Former education minister Ruairí Quinn issued a scathing attack on the Church — which has refused to cough up 50% of the €1.5bn redress bill.
A €127m contribution was agreed under a 2001 indemnity deal agreed by then education minister Michael Woods. Further offers were made in 2009.
Mr Quinn said that the 18 religious congregations had taken a “hard nosed” approach in refusing to sign up to the 50/50 principle, despite having more than enough assets to make up the €250m shortfall.
“They just are refusing to make the contribution. I don’t have and I didn’t have as minister, nor does Jan O’Sullivan the current minister for education and skills, or indeed the Government, have the legal powers to compel them to pay, without repudiating the deal done by Fianna Fáil,” he told Newstalk.
The former minister said he had offered the congregations an “honourable way out” by transferring the title deeds of their schools to the Department of Education but this had been refused, as had the 50:50 principle.
Mr Quinn said Michael Woods and Bertie Ahern had been “out-manoeuvred and out-negotiated by two very, very clever nuns” in the 2001 indemnity deal.
“These were hard-nosed people. They were looking at me and my predecessor and my successor and saying ‘how long is this guy going to be around? We can out-wait them, we can outlast them’,” he said.
Mr Quinn dismissed any notion that the religious congregations would feel a moral obligation to make up the redress shortfall stating they were in the “propaganda business”.
“No they’re not. They’re in the propaganda business of propagating a particular set of values and a particular point of view. I wouldn’t like to be playing poker against them,” he said.