The four congregations of nuns who ran the country's Magdalene laundries have said that are willing to participate in any inquiry into the institutions which will serve the interests of current and former residents.

The statement was issued on their behalf by the Conference of Religious in Ireland in response to last Monday's call by the UN Committee against Torture for a statutory inquiry into abuse in the institutions.

The four congregations are the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Religious Sisters Charity, the Sisters of Mercy and the Good Shepherd Sisters.

The statement says ‘the Magdalene homes issue is a sad, complex and dark story of Irish society that extends over one hundred and fifty years’.

It says that, acting in good faith, the nuns had taken over and run the ten homes during part or most of that time.

It also notes that they are still ‘in relationship’ with many current and former residents.

The four groups of sisters say they are willing to participate in any inquiry that will bring greater clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the interests of all the women involved.