Thursday 23 May 2019

Order that refused to pay into redress scheme selling €3m retreat

For sale: The Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Howth, Dublin
For sale: The Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Howth, Dublin
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A religious order which ran some of the Magdalene laundries, but has refused to pay into the redress scheme for survivors, is to sell its retreat centre in north Dublin.

The Religious Sisters of Charity announced it will sell the €3m Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Howth, which has been its home and a retreat, welcoming thousands of people for more than 125 years.

"Due to the inability of our ageing congregation to continue our retreat work, a decline in numbers attending and the need to spend a great deal of money to modernise what is a Victorian 19th-century building, we have decided to sell and use the proceeds of the sale to go towards some of the charitable work our congregation carries out at home and abroad," said Sr Mary Christian, superior general, Religious Sisters of Charity.

The order, which has sisters in Ireland, England, Scotland, California, Malawi, Zambia and Nigeria, is involved in local communities, including caring for those who are sick and those nearing the end of life.

"Our sisters are active in education with both children and adults, as well as focusing on helping those who are homeless. This sale will enable us to continue that important work whilst also supporting the care of our sick and elderly sisters," she said.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said no contributions have been made by any of the four religious congregations involved in respect of the implementation of the Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex-Gratia Scheme.

As of yesterday, a total of €27.8m has been paid so far to 732 applicants under the scheme.

Successful applicants under the scheme are also entitled to welfare and medical benefits.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that the order has paid €2m towards the Residential Institutions Redress Board. This is a separate fund set up to compensate people who were abused in institutional care as children.

A Department of Education spokesman said the order agreed to make a voluntary cash contribution of €5m towards the costs incurred by the State in responding to residential institutional child abuse.

In 2012, it said it was offsetting the outstanding contribution of €3m against legal costs incurred by the order in relation to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

A spokeswoman for the Religious Sisters of Charity did not respond to questions yesterday.

Irish Independent

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