Almost a decade after the Irish Catholic church signed an indemnity deal for religious orders, just two thirds of the properties agreed on in the deal have been legally handed over to the State.

The deal was originally arranged as part of the compensation agreement for Irish abuse victims.

But the latest figures show that only 40 of the 61 lands and buildings agreed to in the deal had been legally transferred to the State by last month.

To date, 65% of properties worth $53 million have been transferred to the State by religious orders. The agreement was originally signed on June 5, 2002.

Correspondence from the secretary general of the Department of Education, which was reported in the Irish Examiner this week, revealed that 21 properties still remain to be fully signed over to the State.

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'The Congregations have agreed to transfer these properties under the indemnity agreement, subject to good and marketable title being furnished,' Brigid McManus wrote in her letter to the Irish Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

'Physical transfers of the properties have taken place and all of these properties are in use or available for use by intended recipients. While they have transferred physically, the Chief State Solicitor’s office continues to pursue the legal requirements issue under the indemnity agreement.'

In response to the delays, Parliamentary committee chairman John McGuinness called for an end to what he called the dragged-out talks on the properties, adding that the Government needed to press Church authorities to close the deal.

'It has been a slow and painful process to get the Church to focus on this and deliver the deal. From the latest information, there needs to be a concentration of minds so the properties can go across with full title. The State needs to push the Church authorities on this.'

Twelve of the lands still to be transferred are in Cork, four are in Waterford, and the others are in Westmeath, Limerick, Dublin, Monaghan, and Kerry.