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Derek Leinster at the unveiling of a memorial to over 200 children who died in Bethany Home at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin in 2014. PA Images

'A remarkable man': Bethany Home campaigner Derek Leinster dies aged 81

His legal proceedings against the State are ongoing.

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to Bethany Home campaigner Derek Leinster after his death aged 81.

The campaigner, also known as Derek Linster, was born in Bethany Home in Dublin in 1941. He was the chairman of the Bethany Homes Survivors’ Group.

He campaigned for over 20 years for the inclusion of Bethany Home and other Protestant institutions in State inquiries and redress schemes.

Derek wanted survivors of Protestant institutions to receive the same redress that was granted to survivors of industrial school abuse under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002.

He passed away unexpectedly on Saturday at home in Rugby, England, his family confirmed.

In a statement shared on social media, his family wrote: “Derek fought a tireless battle for many years to gain justice for the mistreatment of babies born into the Bethany mother and baby home, Dublin – A case that was so very important to him.

“He was a remarkable and incredibly determined man who never surrendered in his fight until the very end.

“We take comfort in knowing he is now at peace with our beloved and dearly missed mum, Carol.”

Derek is survived by his daughters Deborah, Amanda, Gail and Kerry; and predeceased by his wife, Carol.

Tributes have been paid to Derek, with fellow survivors and others calling him “an inspiration” and “a remarkable man”.

David Kinsella, a survivor of St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin, said: “I will miss our long chats, he was a dear friend and advisor. Sincere condolences to all Derek’s family.”

Legal proceedings ongoing

In September 2021, Derek lodged legal proceedings against the Irish State, the Minister for Children and the Attorney General.

Proceedings in the case were delayed on a number of occasions.

During one hearing in the case in May 2022, Céile Varley BL – who was representing the campaigner on behalf of the The Free Legal Advice Centre (Flac) – told the court she could not consent to an extension being given to the State her client was “an elderly man in poor health“.

Varley said her client was “one of a handful” of Bethany Home survivors who are still alive and, as such, he was “highly concerned about additional delays in the matter”.

During the latest hearing last month, the case was listed for mention again in February 2023.

In an interview with The Journal last year, Derek called for the redress scheme for survivors of mother and baby homes to be fast-tracked due to the age of many survivors.

“I’m not going to settle unless I get the right deal, even if it means I don’t get the deal before I die. I’m not going to sell out to people that stood by me over all these years.

“At the end of the day I want what people got under the 2002 redress scheme. I want that, so it can never happen that a small group of people can be ignored as Irish citizens.

“They have to be treated just the same as anybody else regardless of the numbers (that apply for redress), or what religion they might have been classed as.”