TWO high-profile members of Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) – Fr Sean Healy and Sr Brigid Reynolds – are to head a new organisation called Social Justice Ireland.
Fr Healy disclosed yesterday that the publication of the Ryan report on institutional abuse had hastened the set-up of the new organisation.
Both Fr Healy and Sr Reynolds, directors of CORI Justice, went further than the organisation’s official response when they appeared before the Joint Committee on Social and Family Affairs last May.
They told the committee, at the time, the 18 congregations who are among the 138 member-congregations of CORI should make substantial additional resources available to the redress scheme for victims.
The new organisation, meanwhile, will take over the programmes and projects run in recent decades by CORI Justice, including its social partnership role.
But Fr Healy insisted yesterday the organisation would be totally independent of CORI.
“It will be governed by its own members and membership is open to anyone – lay or religious, organisation or individual – who support the building of a just society,” he said.
Asked if they were trying to distance themselves from CORI since the publication of the Ryan report, Fr Healy admitted that it had “escalated” the establishment of the new organisation.
He pointed out, however, that CORI Justice had been working with organisations at national and local level for well over a decade that were not religious at all.
“We have been talking for a long time now about how to ensure that the structure reflects the reality so we are doing that now,” he said.
“But it would also be true to say that the publication of the Ryan report brought the new organisation forward sooner than we had expected.”
The new organisation describes itself as “working to build a just society where human rights are respected, human dignity is protected, human development is facilitated and the environment is respected and protected”.
Both Fr Healy and Sr Reynolds have worked for more than 25 years for CORI Justice and its predecessor the CORI Justice Commission.
CORI president Sr Conchita McDonnell said Fr Healy and Sr Reynolds had been unequalled and passionate voices for justice and CORI, having gained from their expertise in that time wished them well in their future undertakings.
Social Justice Ireland is described as a non-profit organisation, independent of any party political or commercial affiliation with their principal source of funding coming from membership fees.
* Further information on the new organisation can be got at www.socialjustice.ie
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