Staff say 'nuns have abandoned their founding purposes' as Cork centre for vulnerable to close

Staff say 'nuns have abandoned their founding purposes' as Cork centre for vulnerable to close

The religious order which owns the Bessborough campus in Cork City has been accused of abandoning its moral compass after confirming it plans to pull the plug on its involvement in the family centre which cares for vulnerable families and children.

The shock decision by The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary leaves 105-staff at the family centre in limbo and casts a cloud of doubt over the future of the centre which works with up to 50 families a week. The creche is not affected.

Staff said they are very concerned for the six adults and seven children who avail of residential accommodation on campus, and for those who live in transitional accommodation on site.

The order, which once operated the infamous former mother and baby home on the site, broke the news to staff at a meeting on Tuesday night.

In a statement, the order said the decision followed "much consideration and soul searching”.

The nuns, part of an international congregation based in London, said they are trying to find a “new service provider” that will have the capacity to continue the work at a different location. They said the decision has been taken as the congregation restructures in keeping with present resources.

The order announced in 2017 its intention to sell a significant portion of the lands at Bessborough. The sale is ongoing.

The Sisters recognise the concern this decision will create for staff and we will now be actively seeking another service provider that will continue this excellent service into the future.

But staff hit back and accused the order of a “run and grab all” attempt.

“The staff at the family services were shocked to hear they were losing their jobs and that the nuns have abandoned their founding purposes and moral compass,” they said.

“At the heart of the work of the Bessborough Centre over the last 20 years has been the provision of social inclusion supports for vulnerable families.

“In recent years the centre has become renowned for its specialist and comprehensive work in supporting families and keeping them together.

“The closure of the service is a total abandonment of the Christian vision of supporting life. The nuns have decided that the easiest way out is simply to sell whatever vision the espoused.”

The staff said while the nuns are nominally the governors of the Bessborough Centre, they have been effectively absent from its operation and management for the last decade.

“Yet the nuns are about to run off with a significant amount of money leaving none in Ireland to compensate staff or the state for the huge investment they have made in the family service,” the staff said.

“The nuns have a financial duty and moral obligation to leave the monies gained from the sale of the lands for the development of the family services."

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