SF seeks debate on nuns’ refusal to contribute to Magdalene scheme

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald says situation is ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Survivors of Magdalene Laundries on their way into Leinster House last February to sit in the public gallery for the Dáil debate on the McAleese report. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Survivors of Magdalene Laundries on their way into Leinster House last February to sit in the public gallery for the Dáil debate on the McAleese report. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin has sought a Dáil debate on the refusal of the four religious orders that ran the Magdalene Laundries to make a financial contribution towards the redress scheme put in place for the survivors.

The four religious congregations have told the Government they will not make any financial contribution to the multimillion-euro fund set up to recompense former residents.

The Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters have informed Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in recent days that they will not pay into the fund, which could cost up to €58 million.

It is understood they have said they are willing to assist fully in all other aspects of the package recommended by Mr Justice John Quirke in his recent report, including the assembly of records and looking after former residents who remain in their care.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that orders had refused to financially contribute to the Magdalene laundries redress fund.

“The bottom line is these four religious orders, and the State, were responsible for the effective wrongful incarceration of girls and women who were forced to work for no pay within a brutal regime.

“Agreeing to merely hand over records and look after elderly residents who gave their lives to the laundries falls far short of what is expected by way of a contribution from the religious orders.”

Ms McDonald said she would write to the orders to ask that they reconsider their decision, and instead make a contribution to fund that “at the very minimum reflects the financial contribution the women made to the commercial enterprises of the orders”.

“I have also sought a debate under today’s Topical Issues to facilitate the Minister for Justice to provide details to the Dáil of his discussions with the four religious orders who ran the Magdalene Laundries,” she added.