Outrage as Magdalene Laundry nuns refuse to pay victims compensation

Girls in the grounds of a Magdalene Laundry. The Irish government is set to pay $45 million to the victims of these Catholic institutions.

The four religious congregations that ran the Magdalene Laundries have announced they will not contribute to the compensation fund for victims.

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, the Irish Times reports.

However the religious orders said they were willing to cooperate fully with other recommendations made by Mr Justice John Quirke.

In his recent report Quirke recommended that the Irish government pay at least €34.5 million ($45 million) in restitution to laundry survivors.

A spokesperson for Shatter said he was 'disappointed' with the decision of the religious orders.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has called on the four religious orders to “reflect” on their refusal to pay into the. redress scheme.

“I cannot force them to, because the scheme was not designed on that basis," he said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was “absolutely unacceptable."

“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,” the Sinn Fein Deputy added.

Meanwhile controversial Catholic League president Bill Donohue has argued that the laundries were a myth.

"[T]here was no holocaust, and there was no gulag," he writes in a special report titled "Myths of the Magdalene Laundries."

"No one was murdered. No one was imprisoned, nor forced against her will to stay. There was no slave labor. Not a single woman was sexually abused by a nun. Not one. It's all a lie."

Donohue agreed that the working conditions in the laundries were "harsh," and that they included "standing for long hours, constantly washing laundry in cold water, and using heavy irons for many hours."

However he doesn’t believe that qualifies as slave labor.

"Drudgery? Yes," he writes. "But if this is 'torture,' then it is safe to say that millions have suffered this fate without ever knowing they did."