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Mercy Sisters respond to Magdalene fund criticisms

By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 July, 2013

Congregation says Government knew that they would not be contributing financially to compensation scheme.

One of the four religious congregations involved in running the country’s network of Magdalene laundries has responded to criticisms of them for not contributing to the ex gratia fund recommended by the Quirke Report.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Sisters of Mercy welcomed the publication of Mr Justice John Quirke’s report on the establishment of an ex gratia scheme for the benefit of women who were sent to and worked in the Magdalene Laundries.

The Congregation also pledged its co-operation with all the recommendations made in the Quirke Report in those aspects of the scheme which involves them.

They invited anyone who may have spent time in their care to meet with them if they so wishd.

However, elsewhere in their statement, they said that ahead of the Government’s announcement that it would fulfill the recommendations outlined by Mr Justice Quirke, the order had already “clarified that we would not contribute financially to the State Scheme.”

The statement continues, “We reminded Minister Shatter that our Congregation has provided care to women who spent time with us in many different contexts throughout our history and that we will continue to do so in ways that accord with our mission.”

Discussing their wider financial commitment to a Statutory Fund for former residents of child care institutions, the Congregation said that since 2009 it had contributed in excess of €21.7 million in cash to the State towards this fund.

They underlined that this was a far greater amount than recently reported in national newspaper, which suggested that the sum was €1.6 million.

The €21.7m cash already paid is part of a larger contribution offered by the Congregation and valued in December 2009 at over €127.5 million, the statement highlights.

It adds that the Congregation has been steadfast in its efforts to bring about the complete implementation of its contributions to the State.

The Mercy Sisters also said in their statement that as taxpayers who donate their “net salaries/pensions to our charitable funds, our Sisters share in the burden of all citizens in responding to women for whom, in past decades, admission to Magdalene Laundries was seen as appropriate refuge.”

They concluded by urging the Government to ensure that unnecessary delays in the implementation of contributions towards the funds they are committed to “are avoided to the greatest extent possible.”

By Sarah Mac Donald

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