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Friday 15 December 2017

Nuns speak out over Magdalene contributions

HANDS TIED: Alan Shatter won't act on charitable status
HANDS TIED: Alan Shatter won't act on charitable status

DANIEL McCONNELL Political Correspondent

THE religious orders who ran the controversial Magdalene Laundries have strongly rejected newspaper claims that they have given just €1.6m to a fund for survivors.

In a lengthy statement, issued yesterday, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy insisted that they had contributed €21.7m in cash to the Statutory Fund since 2009.

The Sisters argued: "As taxpayers who donate their net salaries/pensions to our charitable funds, our Sisters share in the burden of all citizens in responding to women for whom, in past decades, admission to Magdalene Laundries was seen as appropriate refuge."

The Sisters were last week severely criticised for stating that they would not be contributing to the State scheme, which led to calls for their orders to lose their charitable status.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter both ruled out such a move, claiming an inability to do so.

In their statement yesterday, the Sisters claimed that the €21.7m cash already paid "is part of a larger contribution offered by our Congregation and valued in December 2009 at in excess of €127.5m".

They continued: "The Congregation has been steadfast in its efforts to bring about the complete implementation of its contribution to the State.

"We clarified that we would not contribute financially to the State Scheme.

"We reminded Minister Shatter that our Congregation has provided care to women who spent time with us in many different contexts throughout our history and that we will continue to do so in ways that accord with our mission."

The Sisters of Mercy restated that they welcomed the June publication of the Quirke Report, which recommended the establishment of a Statutory Fund.

However, the refusal of the Sisters to contribute means that the taxpayer will now be left with the hefty bill of up to €56m.

Despite his insistence that he cannot force them to make a financial contribution, the Taoiseach called on the organisations to "reflect" on their decision.

Irish Independent

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