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The abuse scandal in the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland is one of a series of sex abuse cases discovered among Catholic clergy and related religious orders in the United States and Ireland in the late 20th century.


Nora Wall

Nora Wall (formerly Sister Domimic of the Sisters of Mercy) was the first woman in the history of the Irish State to be convicted of rape,[citation needed] the first person to receive a life sentence for rape,[citation needed] and the only person in the history of the State to be convicted on Repressed memory evidence.[citation needed] The case against her collapsed after it was found that both of her (female) accusers had made similar allegations against other persons, both male and female. A few days after Wall's conviction in June 1999, her accusers sold their story to a tabloid newspaper, which published their names for the first time. One of their previous victims recognised one name and contacted Nora Wall's family. They took legal action to appeal the conviction and sentence.

Her co-accused Pablo McCabe was a homeless schizophrenic man; thus he was neither a (direct) victim of anti-clericalism nor a target for "compensation". In relation to one of the two rape allegations, the Defence was able to prove that McCabe could not possibly have been there on the date in question. The jury acquitted him on that count and convicted him (and Nora Wall) on the second rape charge which did not specify an exact date. [1]

Ryan Report

On 20 May 2009, the Irish government report released its report from the "The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse", known as the Ryan Report. It named the Irish Sisters of Mercy, in company with the Irish Christian Brothers, as two of the principal religious orders responsible for having the most instances of abuse.

The Report described the Mercy order's tolerating physical and sexual abuse of girls in its care in Ireland. Mercy Sisters were also accused of physically, verbally and emotionally, and perhaps even sexually abusing, or allowing lay personnel to sexually abuse, children under the care of the order. [2]

Culture of abuse

The culture of abuse was reinforced by the failure of Sisters who did not abuse or mistreat children to report what they witnessed to the authorities. The order has further proved reluctant to allow the re-opening of a controversial, secret agreement in 2002 between 18 or the most egregiously abusive orders, including the Sisters of Mercy, and the Irish government of the time. This agreement capped the orders' collective liabilities to victims and survivors of abuse at approximately 128 million Euros. [3]

Damage payments

Total damages payments to survivors are expected to be in the region of 1.3 billion Euros.[citation needed] After the Ryan Report's release, the Congregation of Religious in Ireland (CORI), an umbrella group of Irish religious orders--of which the Sisters of Mercy is one--refused, in successive statements by CORI spokespersons, to consider paying more than the one tenth of estimated total payouts.

Financial audit

Following a meeting On June 4th with An Taoiseach, the Irish Prime Minister, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., and some of his ministers, Cori agreed to an independent audit of the financial and other assets of the religious orders. Survivors' groups representing former residents of institutions managed by religious orders had met with Mr. Cowen the previous evening. Christine Buckley, of the Aislinn Centre stated that she "was pleased with the determined effort made by the Taoiseach," expressing the hope that "the period of procrastination and game-playing of the religious appears to be coming to an end."

State intervention

She remained "fearful the congregations might emphasise the State's responsibility for the institutions they managed in favour of themselves in monetary terms." ref. Patsy McGarry, Irish Times June 5th 2009. On June 25th Mr. Cowen again met with CORI and representatives of individual religious orders. He announced that the Government would be naming three independent persons to examine the audits, after which, it is hoped, a payment from the orders will be announced that is closer to financially acknowledging the grave and reprehensible abuses perpetrated on children and young people who had been committed to the custody of the Sisters of Mercy and other Irish religious orders. Michael O'Brien of the Right to Peace group said "the congregations should contribute the same amount as the State as both were equally culpable." [4][5]

In December 2009, the Sisters announced that they would contribute an additional 128 million euros to the fund to compensate victims. [6]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Irish Catholic Schools Child Abuse Claims", The Guardian, 20 May 2009
  3. ^ Most complaints concerned physical abuse
  4. ^ Irish Times, June 5th 2009.
  5. ^ The Times
  6. ^ Catholic News Service

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