SURVIVORS FROM THE Bethany Home in Dublin, who are looking for an apology and redress for their treatment during their time there, are to meet with the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter next week.
Derek Leinster of the Bethany Survivors Group Ireland told TheJournal.ie that they will meet with the Minister for Justice on Tuesday 16 April.
The news comes after Cork City Council decided to pass a Sinn Féin motion calling on the Government to provide a full apology to the surviving women and men of Bethany Home and to immediately put in place a mechanism of redress.
The decision was welcomed by Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD, who described it as “welcome” and said hopefully other councils will follow.
State inspections of Bethany under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act record the horrendous neglect of children in the home.
Some 219 Bethany children died in this small institution between 1922 and 1949 and lay buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery.
Neglect in Bethany Home was in some instances barbaric and in others wilfully negligent.
Leinster said that the news about Cork City council is “amazing”, and that he “was completely gobsmacked”. He said it was positive to have “the biggest county in Ireland on your side” and that the survivors are to meet with Minister Alan Shatter and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.
“It’s something that should have happened a long while ago. The minister and the Taoiseach have gone all over Ireland and even the UK to meet with the Magdalene Laundry people. We are having to finance ourselves over to meet them,” he said.
The survivors are looking for an apology, redress for the pain and injury they suffered, and a memorial for the 219 children that they know of that are in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery. Leinster has been campaigning for this since 1998.
The state’s case is that the home’s residents were there voluntarily and so did not qualify for the 2002 Residential Institutions Redress scheme.
In July 2011, about 20 Bethany survivors were encouraged to apply for inclusion in Martin McAleese’s Magdalen inquiry. However, the government did not extend its mandate to them.
Leinster said they are “more interested in hearing what [the Minister] has to say to us” at the meeting next week, and that they are looking to hear what progress has been made in their case. They don’t want to be treated differently because of their religion.
They have started a campaign to raise funds for the memorial, and just recently received a “substantial” donation from a woman in Cork.