Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he cannot force the religious orders to make a contribution to the redress scheme for former residents of the Magdalene laundries.
Four orders of Catholic nuns – The Good Shepherd Sisters, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Charity - have refused to contribute to the fund, which is expected to cost between €34m and €58m .
Speaking in the Dáil this morning Mr Kenny said he was not going to "get into a fight" with the orders about money, as the survivors don't have time on their side.
"I would like to think that the religious orders would make a contribution here," he told the house.
However, he added, "I can't force them to".
"This scheme was not designed on that basis - these people do not have time on their side."
More than 210 women who worked in the Catholic-run workhouses have already applied to the multi-million euro compensation scheme announced by the Government last month.
Earlier Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore called on the orders to reconsider their decision.
Mr Gilmore said the wrong that was done to the women in the laundries needs to be put right,and the religious orders have to take responsibility too.
"It's about responsibility; and I think that as far as the Government is concerned, the State is concerned, we have taken our responsibility," he said.
"We've addressed what needed to be done, and I think the congregations should reconsider their position in relation to making a contribution," he said.
The scheme is expected to cost between €34.5m and €58m, depending on how many women apply.
Under its terms any woman who spent three months or less in a laundry or workhouse will receive a lump sum payment of €11,500, and those who spent a year in a laundry will be paid €20,500.
The figure increases to €68,500 to women who were incarcerated for five years and will be capped at €100,000 for women who were in a Magdalene laundry for 10 years or more.
A one off payment of up to €50,000 will be made, with an annual payment calculated from the remaining sum, which would be paid weekly.
Update at 14.30pm
Meanwhile the Jobs Minister has said it is disappointing that four orders of nuns will not be contributing to the fund for the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.
Richard Bruton said that despite the setback, the Government are going to make sure that the women get whatever help they need.
"It is important to say that the government is making sure that those who were effected by the very poor conditions and who are entitled to support at this difficult time and late stage in their life's," he said.
"We will and are making that provision available to them I think that is the important message that also needs to be reiterated."