NEWS — 29 May 2014

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The UN has criticised the refusal of four orders of nuns that ran the Magdalene laundries to offer any money towards compensating survivors.

In its latest observations report, the UN Committee Against Torture (Uncat) said it was “concerned” that, more than a year after the State apology to women abused in Magdalene laundries, none of the orders were willing to contribute to the redress scheme.

Uncat also expressed concerns about the State’s failure to hold the Catholic Church accountable for institutional abuse.

In February 2013, Enda Kenny formally apologised on behalf of the state for its role in the Magdalene laundries. 10,000 women and girls were made to do unpaid manual labour in laundries run by Roman Catholic nuns in Ireland between 1922 and 1996. In July last year, it was reported that the four orders of nuns, The Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, the Good Shepherd Sisters, and the Sisters of Charity, were refusing to pay anything. The compensation scheme is expected to cost between €34m and €58m.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter wrote to the Orders earlier this year, for the fourth time, when he received responses saying they would not contribute any money towards compensating the women.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the nuns have a moral and ethical obligation to contribute to the fund.

The orders say they are helping in other ways, chiefly by continuing to provide residential care for about 130 former laundry workers.

The UN has previously called on the Vatican to investigate the Magdalene laundries so those responsible for the abuse suffered can be prosecuted.

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