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Defending the indefensible in horrific scandal

It was disgusting, shameful and sinful. After the publication of the Ryan report into institutionalised child abuse, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's call for the revisiting of the immunity deal with the Government made in 2002 was bluntly shot down by the 18 religious orders involved.

Of the estimated €1.3bn to be paid out in compensation, the religious orders will stump up about 10pc and the taxpayer the rest.

Miriam O'Connor, from the Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori), appeared on Morning Ireland to defend the utterly indefensible.

"Are the orders in whose institutions the abuse took place, are they prepared to pay more in some way, in any way?" asked presenter Cathal Mac Coille.

"They have decided they don't want to revisit the deal," O'Connor eventually replied in pinched nasal tones. "Now what I want to stress here is this is not a blocking mechanism or a way of saying no. It's rather a way of looking at it somewhat differently."

So, how is saying no not "a way of saying no"? The sound of jaws dropping in unison could be heard across the nation.

The orders apparently "want to look at new and creative ways" to make good for the years of systematic abuse some of their members inflicted on defenceless and innocent children.

But Mac Coille cut through the guff.

"We are aware of the legal argument for not reopening the deal -- a deal is a deal. What's the moral argument?"

After an initial flustered response, O'Connor replied: "The answer is they want to deal directly with and use all the resources in their power to channel directly to the former residents."

"With respect, you are saying they will do what they want to do," countered Mac Coille, before he read from a Cori statement criticising the Government for cuts to social services.

"Cori is stating to a Government desperately short of money and having to come up with more than a billion to compensate people who were abused in institutions run by some of your members, 'No, you will just have to find the money yourself, we are not helping'."

There was a long pause. Then a sharp intake of air before O'Connor again talked in circles trying to hide from the cold, horrific and sad reality.

Let's just hope for her sake God didn't tune in to hear the continuance of this shameful saga.

Morning Ireland, RTE Radio One