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Monument to 222 lost Bethany children to be unveiled at ceremony

The names of children who died while at the home are due to be released in the hope people will find their relations who lived there.

The monument at Mount Jerome cemetery.
The monument at Mount Jerome cemetery.
Image: Derek Leinster

A MONUMENT TO children who died while in the care of Bethany Home is to be unveiled this afternoon at a Dublin cemetery.

A group of survivors is to gather at Mount Jerome to mark the official unveiling of the monument, which was funded by the Irish Government.

Bethany Home was a protestant 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.

Survivors campaigning

The Bethany Survivors Campaign, as part of its campaign for justice, is seeking recognition of those who did not survive life at the home.

“222 Bethany children were denied so much in their short lives and even in death the right to their name on a headstone,” said the survivors’ spokesperson, Derek Leinster.

He said that the children were placed in unmarked ground, until rediscovered by the Bethany campaign in 2010.

At 4pm today, an ecumenical service conducted by Canon Mark Gardner will be held in the Victorian chapel in Mount Jerome cemetery. The memorial stone will then be unveiled within the grounds of the cemetery.

Funding

Leinster said that the funding of this memorial by the State “is one small step in the right direction by the government”.

The next step is for the state to recognise its responsibility to Bethany survivors, by admitting them to a scheme of redress.

The names of the children on the memorial headstone will also be released on TheJournal.ie at 4pm today.

Leinster said that relatives may not be aware that a member of their family is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery. “They may now become aware of that fact and will have somewhere to grieve,” he said.

He said that the Bethany Survivors’ Campaign for justice and restitution continues.

The names of the children were researched from Mount Jerome Cemetery records in May and September 2010 by Niall Meehan, head of the Journalism and Media Faculty at Griffith College, Dublin.

Meehan said that today “is not a day for apportioning blame but for taking responsibility”.

“These children were abandoned like thousands of others in Irish society and destined to be forgotten. Today is a day for them to be remembered and to be recognised,” he said.

Meehan said it was hoped that the children may also at some stage gain a family through the release of their names. “That would be the best outcome of today’s unveiling,” he said.

Public event

Those due to attend the memorial service and unveiling in Mount Jerome today include Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn, Minister Joe Costello, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, Father Peter McVerry and representaties from the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Church of Ireland churches in Ireland.

Members of the public are also invited to attend the event at the Harold’s Cross cemetery at 4pm.

Read: Memorial to 222 children who died at Bethany Home to be unveiled>

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