The 18 congregations that signed the controversial deal with the Government in 2002 to compensate victims of abuse in institutions said this evening they would not renegotiate the terms of the agreement.
The move by the congregations comes despite increasing public pressure and a call this morning by the Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady that the deal should be revisited.
The 2002 agreement between the congregations and the State indemnified the religious orders from all redress claims made by victims in exchange for payments and property transfers totalling Euro127 million. The total bill for the redress scheme is likely to be about Euro1.3 billion.
Following a meeting in Dublin this morning the congregations said this evening they accepted the gravity of the abuse detailed in the Ryan report last week. However, the statement added: Rather than re-opening the terms of the agreement reached with Government in 2002, we reiterate our commitment to working with those who suffered enormously while in our care. We must find the best and most appropriate ways of directly assisting them.
The statement said the group would meeting in the coming days to explore the detail of our responses.
The Conference of the Religious in Ireland (Cori), which represents 138 religious congregations, said in a statement this evening that it supports the 18 congregations in their efforts to find the best and most appropriate ways forward.
All of us accept with humility that massive mistakes were made and grave injustices were inflicted on very vulnerable children. No excuse can be offered for what has happened, the Cori statement said.
Meanwhile, the Standing Committee of the Irish Bishops' Conference welcomed the publication of report from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, desccribing it as a significant step in establishing the truth and enabling the voices of survivors of abuse to be heard.