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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 24 October, 2019

Names of 239 children who died in Protestant institutions added to memorial headstones

The name of a mother who died in childbirth was also added to one of the monuments.

A NEW HEADSTONE bearing the names of 70 children, and one mother, who died in the Protestant run Bethany mother and baby home has been erected in Dublin’s Mount Jerome cemetery.

The names of another 169 children who died in other Protestant institutions were also inscribed on a separate memorial stone in the cemetery.

The monuments were erected by the Bethany Home Survivors Group to mark the deaths of hundreds of children who were buried in unmarked graves at Mount Jerome.

The 169 children were residents of Mrs Smyly’s Homes, Miss Carr’s Home, the Church of Ireland Magdalen Asylum and the Irish Church Missions.

Speaking at the unveiling of the monuments Dr Niall Meehan of Griffith College said Mount Jerome “marks a very important place in our understanding of what happened to children of so-called ‘unmarried mothers’ in Protestant communities in Ireland.”

He paid tribute to Derek Leinster and John Thompson of the Bethany Survivors Group who did the research that unearthed more graves of disappeared children.

“Without Derek and John’s work, Irish society would be ignorant of those who were socially marginalised within all Christian denominations,” he said.

Dr Meehan added that the reasons for that ignorance in Irish society are understandable, but also unjust.

The over 90% who were, or are, Roman Catholic are fixated on their church’s faults. That includes the media, with some notable exceptions. The notion that institutionalised abuse is a purely ‘Catholic’ issue meant that the 2009 Ryan Commission Report into abuse in residential institutions examined only the Roman Catholic variety.

He said that the Ryan Commission should have examined “systemic abuse” in Mrs Smyly’s homes in Dun Laoghaire and Monkstown, but it did not.

Dr Meehan also called for records of all the institutions to be handed over to the state so the Department of Children can disseminate information to survivors.

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Ceimin Burke

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