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Statement by the Leadership of the Presentation Sisters, Ireland

25 November 2009

Congregation

We, the Presentation Sisters in Ireland, confirm that we will make a contribution of €5 million to the independent Trust to be established by the Government following the Ryan Report.  Approximately 1% of the claims made under the Redress Scheme related to the Presentation Sisters.  The contribution is given in this context.

Institutional childcare began for the Congregation when a little girl, aged about three, strayed into the grounds of Presentation Convent, Thurles, on a Fair Day in 1868 and was never claimed.   The Sisters decided to look after her.  She was soon joined by other children, sent by the social workers of the day.

Out of this emerged the first Presentation Orphanage.  In time the building became too small and a new orphanage was opened in Dundrum, Co Tipperary.  This was one of two Orphanages/Industrial schools established by the Presentation Sisters, the other being in Cashel, Co Tipperary (1869-1969).  The Kennedy Report (1973) indicated that a Group Home approach was better for children and so the Congregation closed Dundrum and built three Group Homes in Fethard, Co Tipperary.

Since our foundation in Cork 234 years ago we have been committed to demonstrating concern and care for the poor.  (The history of the Congregation and its ministries can be accessed on our website: www.presentationsistersunion.org).  However, we acknowledge that this concern and care was not always experienced by children in our residential homes, and for that we are truly sorry.

The contribution follows acceptance by the Government’s three person Assessment Panel of the Statement of Affairs submitted by the Congregation.

Of the total assets shown in the Statement of Affairs €394 million relates to property.  The largest component of this relates to specialised, restricted use properties which are not readily saleable and are valued at current insurance value.

Of these property assets, in excess of €200 million are schools which provide education to a significant number of children.  The remainder consists of property used to house the 713 sisters and a variety of ministries focused on assisting the poorest and most marginalized in society.

Future commitments as set out in the Statement of Affairs amount to €108 million.  This includes ministry and capital commitments of €60 million that will be incurred over the next 5 years.  Non-property assets (which total €100 million) will be required to meet these commitments.  However, if the current work of the Congregation is to be developed and enhanced, further funds will be required.

Our contribution of €5 million will be supplemented by our ongoing contributions to the counselling service for persons who experienced abuse (FAOISEAMH) and is in addition to an earlier contribution of €5.2 million to the Redress Board.