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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 26 July, 2014

Bethany Home, where 222 children died, to be included in mother and baby home investigation

The Children’s Minister Charlie Flanagan said today that he was conscious of the grievances felt by those connected to the Bethany Home, a protestant-run home on Dublin’s Orwell Road.

A monument to the Bethany children in Mount Jerome cemetery in south Dublin
A monument to the Bethany children in Mount Jerome cemetery in south Dublin
Image: Derek Leinster

Updated 9.40pm

THE CHILDREN’S MINISTER has said he is anxious that the Bethany Home in Rathgar is included as part of the Commission of Investigation into mother and baby homes in Ireland.

Charlie Flanagan said today that he was conscious of the grievances felt by those connected to the Bethany Home, a protestant-run home on Dublin’s Orwell Road, where young unmarried mothers lived with their young children.

Many of the children were subsequently adopted, and survivors say they suffered neglect as children. Over 200 children died while in the care of Bethany Home. A monument to them was recently unveiled.

“I am conscious of grievance on the part of people who were directly associated with Behtany Homes and I am anxious that the scope of the inquiry would be beyond Tuam and County Galway. I would include all mother and baby homes with specific reference to the Bethany,” Flanagan said today.

The Taoiseach also confirmed that the Bethany Home would be included in the new probe.The former residents of the home were not including in the Government’ redress scheme for resident of the Magdalene Laundries, and a number of groups had been calling for the institution to be investigated.

Answering a question from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, the Taoiseach said:

It’s one of a significant number of mother-and-baby homes that must be investigated.

Flanagan was speaking at a press briefing after he earlier announced that Commission of Investigation would examine all practices, procedures and behaviours in mother and baby homes throughout the State in the wake of the recent Tuam babies scandal.

‘Before summer recess’

He said he hoped that the Commission would be established before the summer recess and would be informed by the current interdepartmental review being carried out across a number of government offices.

This is expected to report by the end of the month.

Flangan said he expects cooperation from all interested parties and he also acknowledged the role of Tuam historian Catherine Corless in highlighting the deaths of 796 babies at a home in the Galway town.

He said that getting widespread cooperation from all interested parties and organisations would ensure “that at last, for the first time, we will get to the truth of this very dark period in our history.

Flanagan said it would be “difficult to put detailed parameters on a time frame” for the commission to report but said he was “anxious” its work begin before the summer recess.

Flanagan said: “It is absolutely essential that that story be told difficult and traumatic as though that is, especially for the mothers and former babies many of whom are now adults.” 

He added: “No government has taken on this task but this government will not shirk its responsibility in discovering the truth, difficult and all as that might be.”

Flanagan said that any criminal investigation is “entirely a matter for An Garda Siochána” and said it was “far too early” to talk about the possibility of compensation for those affected.

Sinn Féin motion

In the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin Health and Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD called for any inquiry into mother and baby homes to cover all such homes and all aspects of the treatment of women and children, including high mortality rates and burial practices.

He proposed a motion from Sinn Féin on the issue this evening, saying the party did so “once it became clear that an inquiry was absolutely necessary”.

He said the latest revelations from Tuam “have highlighted more horrifying aspects of the regimes in these mother and baby homes and they demand immediate action to uncover the full truth”.

Also speaking in the Dáil, Minister Flanagan said that “insensitive language has been used in the rush to cast blame”, and he appealed to people within and outside Leinster House to be “sensitive in their choice of language” when referring to the homes.

He said that he wanted to acknowledge “the reality that Irish society as a whole colluded in maintaining the regime of mother and baby homes”.

“Questions remain unanswered about the nature of adoptions and vaccine trial,” he noted.

- Additional reporting Aoife Barry

Exclusive: Children died of malnutrition, syphilis, heart failure at mother and baby home

Read: Monument to 222 lost Bethany children to be unveiled at ceremony

 

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