AN APOLOGY AND redress scheme for people who had been child residents of the Bethany Home in Dublin could be announced within the next few weeks.
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD welcomed the Taoiseach’s commitment this evening, saying that he said consideration of a redress scheme, access to personal records, a memorial and an apology for Bethany Home survivors will be concluded within the next two to three weeks.
The Dublin Central TD said:
There is a wealth of evidence in the public domain documenting state involvement in Bethany Home. Survivors’ were excluded from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme on the basis that it was a Mother and Baby Home, which was clearly not the case.
She said that survivor testimony and records show that children spent long periods of time in the home and were often brought back after temporary foster care arrangements ended. “Horrific abuse and neglect is also well documented,” said McDonald.
State inspections of Bethany under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act record the neglect of children in the home. In addition, over 200 children from Bethany who died in the institution between 1922 and 1949 are buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery.
Derek Leinster of the Bethany Survivors Group told TheJournal.ie that it is “great news and it’s the most constructive news that we’ve had for a very long time”.
However he said that they have “been up the top of the hill and marched down again a few times over the last 15 years, so we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground”.
He said it was “absolutely breathtaking” and it is a day the survivors have worked hard for: “We hoped we would get there but obviously could never be sure”.
I hope that he will treat us no differently than he has treated the other people who have qualified under the redress bill. We don’t want a penny more and we don’t want a penny less.
The Minister for Justice will conclude his consideration of redress for survivors of Bethany Home soon, and McDonald said that “it is time now for the Government to acknowledge the failure of the State in its duty and in turn to provide these elderly men and women the redress and apology they have waited so long for”.
She noted that for over two years now the Justice Minister has been considering the growing call for an apology and redress for the men and women who survived Bethany Home.
In opposition both Fine Gael and Labour criticised Fianna Fáil-led Governments for excluding Bethany from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme acknowledging the evidence of state involvement in the home.