THE CONFERENCE of Religious of Ireland (Cori) is an umbrella group representing 138 religious congregations, including the 18 that signed the 2002 redress deal with the State.
The group is led by director general Sr Marianne O’Connor and a 15-member executive, which is elected from among members at the organisations annual general assembly. The president and vice president, Sr Conchita McDonnell and Br Martin Kenneally, are elected from among the executive.
Coris activities are co-ordinated by five divisions – child safeguarding, education, healthcare, justice and Northern Ireland.
The justice section is led by Fr Seán Healy – Cori’s most high-profile representative – and Sr Brigid Reynolds.
At an Oireachtas committee meeting this week, Fr Healy and Sr Reynolds – neither of whom sits on Cori’s executive – went further than the organisations official stance by saying, in a personal capacity, that the congregations involved in the scandal should make substantial additional resources available to the redress scheme for victims.
Earlier this week, Sr O’Connor said the orders would prefer to “deal directly and to use all in their powers to channel whatever resources directly to the former residents” rather than revisit the terms of the redress deal with Government.
If it were to be reopened, it could “end up in a legal quagmire” lasting months or years, she said.
Within the broader membership of Cori itself, there has always been tension over its leadership and the fact that it has allowed itself to become a public front for the 18 relevant congregations.
This goes back to 2000 when Sr Elizabeth Maxwell, Cori’s then director general and later president, and Sr Helena O’Donoghue led negotiations with the State on behalf of the 18 congregations.