Magdalene laundry survivors have urged Irish Mass goers to boycott churches and any collections this week, reports the Irish Independent. The move comes after the religious orders responsible for years of abuse refused to pay compensation to a new scheme that over 260 women applied for.

Magdalene survivor Miranda Gambold was outraged with the outcome; “ Why can’t they do the right thing?” she questioned, “Why do they want to make us suffer like this?”. She urged the public to help the survivors in their quest for justice ;"It is not a big ask to call on people living in Ireland to support us, and what we have suggested is a simple but powerful way of sending a clear message to the religious orders to do the right thing."

Julie McClure, who was detained at Stanhope Street, Dublin, said she worked day and night for the institution; "What happened to us was a gross violation of our personal and fundamental human rights.Nobody seems to care that all we are asking is to be supported. Why can't the Government do that?"

Taoiseach Enda Kenny accepted in the Dail that these orders could not be compelled to pay, and that moral persuasion would have to be applied. There have been calls for the four institutions  to be stripped of their charitable status . Justice Minister Alan Shatter also urged that the orders contribute to the fund which is expected to cost the state between $45.3million and $76.2million ( €34.5 million and €58 million.)

However, spokesman for the survivor’s group, Steven O’Riordan called on the Government to also lift the Statue of Limitations ban on women if they sign up to the scheme."After the shocking and pathetic response from the Government, the women are now seeking the assistance of all decent citizens of this country to stand behind them," he said."We want people to make it clear to the church that people are not happy with how the women are being treated by the four religious orders who ran Magdalene laundries.We need the help and the support from the public because it is clear that the Irish Government is totally out of their depth."

The Irish Times listed background information on all four orders,and stated they had combined gross assets worth €1.5 billion when the last comprehensive assessment of their financial resources was made in 2009. The orders involved are; Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Charity, Good Shepherd Sisters, and Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge.

1) Sisters of Mercy

The country’s largest order, with 2,000 members was founded by Sr. Catherine McAuley in 1834, and has played a central role in educational provision. In 2009 it had total property assets of over $131 billion (€1 billion). Some $866million (€660 million) related to schools in use, $78million (€60 million)to a hospital in use; the value of congregation residences was $262million (€200 million ) and a further $91million (€70 million)related to other services.

The order ran two of the Magdalene laundries, in Galway and Dún Laoghaire.

2) Sisters of Charity

Founded in Dublin by Mary Aikenhead in 1815, the Sisters of Charity are associated with education and healthcare, and founded St Vincent’s Hospital. With about 250 members in its Irish province, it had some $349million (€266 million)in assets in 2009, virtually all of which was restricted or committed to provision of services or welfare of its elderly members.

A $6.5million (€5 million) offer was made to the statutory fund in 2009 but only $2.6million (€2 million)was paid. The order said it could not afford to hand over the remaining  $3.9million (€3 million ) because of the downturn in the property market. It ran two Magdalene laundries, one in Donnybrook in Dublin and the other in Peacock Lane in Cork.

3) Good Shepherd Sisters

Founded in France in 1835 by St Mary Euphrasia, this order ran four laundries: in Waterford, Wexford, Limerick and Cork. With a little over 100 members it is a small order which now concentrates on sheltered accommodation and social housing. With colleagues from Our Lady of Charity Sisters, it runs Ruhama, the outreach and advocacy services for women in prostitution.Its asset base was $39million (€30 million)in 2009, all but $3.9million €3 million of which was restricted or committed to services or welfare. 

4) Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge

It ran two laundries in Dublin: Drumcondra and Gloucester Street. The order focuses on residential care and social work for women. It had 31 members in Ireland in 2009, with an average age of 78.

Its total asset base in 2009 was $78million (€60million).Some $34million (€26 million) of this was committed to running its nursing home and residential hostels into the future. It did offer land near the Phoenix Park to the OPW in lieu of cash five years ago, but that offer was declined by Cabinet.