The Government has thrown down the gauntlet to the four religious orders that ran the Magdalene Laundries, saying it expects them to contribute money towards the redress scheme — as two groups said they would not pay.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil the Government, survivors of the laundries and the wider public “expect” those who ran the institutions to pay to compensate the women who suffered in their care. Mr Shatter’s challenge comes as two of the orders have told the Government they will not be contributing any money towards the Quirke redress scheme, expected to cost between €34m and €58m.
The Irish Examiner understands from sources that both the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge told the Government in advance of the Quirke Report being published on Wednesday, they would not be contributing money to the compensation fund.
The report recommended the women be paid compensation ranging from €11,500 to a maximum of €100,000 depending on the duration spent in a Magdalene Laundry.
None of the orders made any comment on whether or not they would contribute to the scheme. The Sisters of Mercy, the Good Shepherd Sisters, and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge did say they would continue to look after the women who worked in the laundries and are still in their care — just not financially.
Last year, the Irish Examiner reported that the four orders who ran the Magdalene Laundries made almost €300m in property deals during the boom.
The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge received €55m from just one sale of land in the High Park campus, Dublin, in 2006.
The Sisters of Charity made €63m in sell-offs during the boom, of which €45m came from the 2001 deal for land around its former laundry in Donnybrook, Dublin. Last year, the order, which amassed a €233m property portfolio, said it could not afford to release €3m it promised to put into a trust fund for the victims of institutional child abuse.
The Sisters of Mercy has sold €165m worth of property between 1999 and 2009.
The Good Shepherd Sisters, which ran laundries in Limerick, Cork, Waterford, and New Ross, made €3.4m by selling some of its sites and houses between 1999 and 2009. Two of these were near its old laundry in Limerick City.
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