No cash forthcoming from Magdalene orders

The Department of Justice has failed in its attempt to coax money from the Magdalene Laundry orders after opting not to drawn on 12 years of almost identical experiences of another department.

No cash forthcoming from Magdalene orders

The four religious orders that ran the Magdalene Laundries have told the Department of Justice a second time that they will not contribute to the compensation scheme.

This declaration followed meetings with Justice Minister Alan Shatter in June, at which he asked the congregations to support the fund.

However, according to a separate Freedom of Information request of the Department of Education, officials from the justice department never made contact to gauge the experiences of its redress unit.

The redress unit had been, and continues to be, involved in a lengthy and largely unsuccessful set of negotiations with 18 religious orders over the perceived €500m shortfall in contributions to the child abuse redress scheme.

The four laundry orders — the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, and the Good Shepherd — were also involved in the child abuse redress scheme.

Following publication of the Magdalene report by former High Court judge John Quirke, Mr Shatter made his request of the religious orders.

In July, Mr Shatter was left empty-handed and had to express a similar degree of disappointment and frustration as Education Minister Ruairi Quinn had made a year earlier, when he had sought for top up payments towards the €1.5bn redress bill.

According to the records held by the Department of Education, their colleagues in justice did not inquire about the likely stance of the congregations.

“No correspondence has issued from this department to the Department of Justice regarding the issue of seeking contributions from religious orders towards a compensation scheme linked to the Magdalen laundries in the period from February 2013 to the present,” it said.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said that, after two requests, the orders had stood firm in refusing to support the laundry redress scheme.

“In June 2013, the minister met with the four religious congregations concerned and had discussed the issue of a contribution from them to ex-gratia Scheme recommended by Judge Quirke,” said a justice department spokesperson. “Following reflection on the matter, all four declined to make a financial contribution.

“Following the Government meeting in July, the minister wrote to all four congregations expressing disappointment that they had decided not to make a financial contribution, pointing out that the Government is of the view that the congregations have a moral obligation and urging them to reconsider. The congregations responded to that second request and reaffirmed their position.”

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