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Victims ask to be part of inquiry

21 November 2014


Survivor: Derek Leinster, a former resident of the Bethany children's home, at a service to launch the Bethany Survivors Group. It took place at the burial site of children from the home in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, in 2010

Survivor: Derek Leinster, a former resident of the Bethany children's home, at a service to launch the Bethany Surviv...

AN ORGANISATION representing Protestant people who suffered by being in "mother-and-baby homes" in Ireland says that it will take a case to the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations, if its members are not included in a government inquiry into the abuse revealed in homes run by religious institutions, with the compliance of the State, until the late 1970s.

The Bethany Survivors Group had not been included in a government compensation scheme on the basis that the State was not involved in the running of Protestant homes, an allegation disputed by survivors.

Bethany Home, in Dublin, had a strong Evangelical ethos, and, while it was not formally run by the Church of Ireland, the board was populated by Anglican clergy from time to time. It opened in 1921, and closed in 1972.

A second home that had strong Church of Ireland influence was Westbank, in Co. Wicklow, from where children were allegedly sent to Northern Ireland to supply free labour to farmers. There were also allegations of physical and sexual abuse of the young people. It closed as recently as 2002.

The Irish Minister for Children, Dr James Reilly, is overseeing a commission of inquiry into homes formerly run by Roman Catholic institutions, but has not promised the inclusion of the Protestant homes.

A spokesman for the Minister said that Dr Reilly had met groups and individuals to provide the best balance for the commission's work. "If you put into the inquiry every particular request, we would get an inquiry that would never end," he said. It was intended to hold further meetings in the coming weeks, he said, so that a memorandum could be presented to the government in the near future.

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