Sunday 17 December 2017

Magdalene nuns 'have moral obligation to pay victims'

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government isn't planning to take legal action against a number of religious orders refusing to contribute to the compensation fund for Magdalene Laundries victims.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter can't force religious orders to give any funding towards the redress scheme but feels they have a "moral obligation" to assist.

The Coalition is preparing to pay out up to €58m in compensation to Magdalene survivors. And the Government is seeking a financial contribution from four religious congregations involved in running the institutions: The Good Shepherd Sisters, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Charity.

The four orders came back to say they don't intend to make a contribution. But the Coalition is not examining the option of taking legal action to force some form of payment.

The congregations are understood to have argued that a lot of their assets are held in trust and therefore can't be given to a fund.

"Where there's a will, there's a way. That's our attitude," a government spokesman said.

The amount of redress to be paid is dependant on the numbers who apply. The payments and support are expected to cost between €34.5m and €58m.

Mr Shatter said he regarded their response as "very disappointing".

"It is my view that the congregations have a moral obligation to make a reasonable contribution to the fund required under the Scheme and that view is shared by my cabinet colleagues."

* PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin is going to restore the Freedom of Information Act, which was gutted in 2003 by the then Fianna Fail-led Government, with restrictions and fees imposed.

Mr Howlin is changing the law to allow Cabinet papers to be released after five years instead of ten, and also allowing for the release of more cabinet advice and correspondence between ministers.

He is still keeping the €15 fee for making a Freedom of Information request but fees for internal review have been reduced from €75 to €30, and fees for appeals have been dropped from €150 to €50.

Irish Independent

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