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Bethany home survivors lobby for recognition

13 April 2017


Grim roll: Derek Leinster, chairman of the Bethany Survivors group, at the unveiling of the memorial to 222 children, at Mount Jerome cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin, in April 2014

Grim roll: Derek Leinster, chairman of the Bethany Survivors group, at the unveiling of the memorial to 222 children, at Mount Jerome cemetery, Harold...

SURVIVORS of the Protestant-run Bethany home, in Dublin, which catered for unwed mothers and their babies between 1922 and 1949, are demanding state recognition of their circumstances in the redress scheme set up to compensate victims of similar homes run by RC institutions.

The government says that Bethany, where as many as 247 children died in the period, does not come under the remit of the inquiry now under way in the Tuam and Magdalene homes scandal (News, 10 March). RC religious orders had agreed to pay millions in compensation, but some who are now refusing to do so have opened another confrontation with former residents.

Bethany was run by a board of Evangelicals who included clergy of the Church of Ireland, and Methodists, and Presbyterian.

The Church of Ireland has always held the line that it neither owned nor ran Bethany, and the Irish State continues to insist that it was a private home, run by a private organisation, which was not connected to the State. Other Protestant churches also denied culpability.

A survivors’ leader, Derek Leinster, said: “The only difference between us and the children in Tuam is that we had the records of the names of those who died. Unlike the Catholics, we got no redress.” He criticised the State’s excuse — “I said, would that be the same if they made sausagemeat of us?” — and said that Bethany also housed female prisoners convicted of petty crimes and infanticide, besides those aged under 17 who were sent to the institution.

The survivors’ group say that they will continue to fight for recognition. A memorial for 222 of the dead children was unveiled at the unmarked plot in the Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, in 2014.

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