LAND and property with a total value of €2,603,082 was sold by the Sisters of Mercy in Offaly between 1999 and 2007 according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Of all the religious orders in the country the Sisters of Mercy are by far the most powerful order in terms of assets and made the most money during the property boom.
In Offaly the Order also handed over sites or property for free to organisations or schools such as St Columcille’s Travellers Centre in Tullamore.
Details of the transactions were compiled in a report in the Irish Examiner earlier this week highlighting the assets of religious orders.
Most of the transactions occurred during the property boom while the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was investigating allegations of mistreatment and abuse.
Many of the orders have set aside millions from the property sales to care for their aging congregations and clients in their care. Records of the transactions were provided to the Department of Education which in 2009, agreed to renegotiate the controversial 2002 indemnity deal. However, the Department insisted on a review of assets of the orders ahead of any re-negotiation.
In Offaly the most lucrative property sale for the Sisters of Mercy was the sale of the Convent in Clara to the local GAA Club in 2007 for €2,348,373, there were two further land deals - at Scurragh in Birr for €237,709 in 2005 and a site in Tullamore in 1999 for €17,000.
According to a statement from the Sisters of Mercy (at national level) the order has already spent some of the proceeds upgrading their convents, supporting the services they are associated with and compensating those abused in residential homes. The Order has proposed donating just under €130million worth of cash and properties to the redress package. This is in addition to the €33million it signed over under the original indemnity deal and the transfer of a €95million site at the Mater Hospital to allow the HSE to build the National Children’s Hospital.