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Sisters of Mercy will not meet with Quinn

The Sisters of Mercy have said they will not attend a meeting with Education Minister Ruairí Quinn this afternoon.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

EDUCATION MINISTER RUAIRÍ Quinn was due to meet with religious congregations today about bridging the gap of an estimated €350 million in compensation to victims of abuse in residential institutions.

He invited 18 religious congregations who were implicated in the Ryan report to discuss their offers towards the bill.

However a statement on the Sisters of Mercy website states that the Sisters “declined” an invitation to the meeting.

It also said the Sisters believe:

that they have been misrepresented and demonised in recent years and that their Congregation has been portrayed in a way that seeks to undermine their voluntary service to this country and beyond.

They said that they wanted to state the Commission “did not make a recommendation that the State’s expenditure upon the commission and the redress scheme would be borne 50:50 between the State and 18 religious congregations”.

They also say that “here has never been an agreement between the State and 18 religious congregations that the costs of the Redress Scheme would be borne on a 50:50 basis”.

It has been wrongly suggested that the Congregation has disadvantaged the State in that it has failed to honour a debt. The Congregation has met and will continue to meet all of its commitments to former residents and to the State.

Sister Coirle McCarthy, the Congregational Leader, said:

In making the offer in December 2009, our first priority was the well-being of all the former residents of our industrial schools.  It is for the benefit of all former residents that we offer €20m to an independent fund together with a number of properties valued at €11.5m.

The Sisters of Mercy said their 2009 offer included properties offered to the State valued at December 2009 at €80,856,80; properties offered to the voluntary sector valued at December 2009 at €15,060,000.

The Sisters said they “regret that the Government has determined that the Statutory Fund for former residents will not benefit from the properties offered to it or even from their proceeds of sale”.

If the State does not accept these properties, five of them will be offered to local county councils and two significant properties will be sold and the proceeds will go the new National Children’s Hospital.

The Sisters say that in the last 10 years they have donated cash and property in excess of €1billion to ensure that these voluntary services continue.

Sister Coirle concluded by emphasising that “our Congregation will continue to care for those who were with us as children” and added “we take this opportunity to, again, offer our heartfelt apology to all those who were hurt and damaged in our institutions.”

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