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Left to right: Bethany Home survivors Derek Leinster, Patrick Anderson McQuoid and Noleen Belton pictured at a memorial to children who died in the institution during a ceremony at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin in 2010. Niall Carson/PA/Alamy Stock Photo
THE MORNING LEAD

Bethany Home survivor says excluding thousands from redress means 'shame will always hang over Ireland'

Patrick Anderson McQuoid is among the thousands of survivors ineligible for redress under the Government’s controversial scheme.

A MAN WHO is not eligible for redress under the Government’s compensation scheme for survivors of mother and baby institutions has said the exclusion of himself and others is a “cruel and a standing disgrace”.

Patrick Anderson McQuoid, a well-known campaigner who founded the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, was born in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin in 1947 before being transferred to Bethany Home.

The Government’s long-awaited redress scheme finally opened for applications in March. However, thousands of people are excluded from the scheme including those who spent less than six months in an institution as a child.

A number of survivors are considering legal action over their exclusion from the scheme, as previously reported by The Journal.

Bethany Home, a Protestant-run facility in Dublin, is among the institutions covered by the redress scheme following long-term campaigning by survivors such as Patrick and Derek Leinster, who passed away in 2022 while in the process of taking legal action against the Irish State.

Many children who died in Bethany Home were buried in an unmarked grave in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

As Patrick was transferred from Bethany Home when he was about two months old, he is ineligible for redress. He spent time in a number of different institutions as a young child, he was malnourished and developed several health issues.

The 76-year-old recently wrote to the Department of Children asking them to extend the scheme to all survivors.

In his letter, which he shared with The Journal, Patrick recalled being “so badly starved I suffered from rickets of the head, a condition known as ‘skullcap’, where the skin on the scalp folds over the ears”.

My hands and feet turned blue. There is no evidence of State inspection of my condition.

Patrick gave evidence – over the course of four hours – to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, detailing the abuse and neglect he suffered as a child.

1000015103 Patrick is an artist and has made a number of pieces about his experience Patrick Anderson McQuoid Patrick Anderson McQuoid

He said he thought things would be “different” after the Commission, that he and others would be listened to – but ultimately he feels let down all over again.

“I just feel so sad that this country, the Government, has let it go so far, to hurt so many people again by doing what they’re doing,” he told The Journal.

The shame will always hang from Ireland’s name.

Patrick said the continued exclusion of people who spent less than six months in an institution as a child, as well as the fact certain institutions are not covered by the scheme, is an “indefensible scandal”.

The Oireachtas Children’s Committee recommended that Westbank orphanage in Greystones, another Protestant-run facility, be added to the list of institutions covered by the redress scheme.

However, it was ultimately not among those included.

Survivors and campaigners have long called for redress to be given to people who spent time in Westbank, detailing the harsh conditions and physical abuse some children suffered.

‘Badly beaten’

Patrick was sent to live with a couple, aged in their 50s, in Northern Ireland in 1951, prior to adoption being made legal in Ireland.

During his time in this house, he said he was called “Paddy from the home” as he was born in the Republic. “That is how I got the name Patrick, though I was christened Cecil,” he recalled.

He said he was “never fully part of that family”.

I wet the bed until I was nine and was often badly beaten by my adoptive father with a razor strap, for that and other reasons.

“After my adoptive mother died when I was 13, I was expected to work on the farm, do cooking and cleaning, and feed my adoptive father and brother. I was just an unpaid child labourer.”

derek-leinster-left-and-patrick-anderson-mcquoid-former-residents-of-the-bethany-childrens-home-hug-at-a-service-to-launch-of-bethany-survivors-group-at-the-burial-site-of-children-from-the-home-in Derek Leinster (left) and Patrick Anderson McQuoid embracing in 2010. Niall Carson / PA/Alamy Stock Photo Niall Carson / PA/Alamy Stock Photo / PA/Alamy Stock Photo

Patrick left the farm when he was 16 and moved to England. He later came back to Ireland and lived in Cork before moving to Leitrim where he has been for the past 35 years.

He said it is deeply unfair that he is excluded from the redress scheme, saying he continues to feel the effects of his traumatic childhood decades later.

“My identity was taken from me, and I was physically and emotionally abused. I suffer medical ill effects and trauma to this day because the Irish State did not properly regulate mother and baby institutions.”

As well as the emotional trauma, he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis which has affected his hands and impacted his ability to work. 

Exclusion from redress

In their reply to his letter, a spokesperson for Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman acknowledged that Patrick’s experiences were “clearly immensely challenging”.

The spokesperson noted that Patrick is indeed ineligible for redress as he spent less than six months in Bethany Home.

“The decisions taken around the inclusion criteria have been put in place to ensure that those who spent the longest time in these institutions as mothers or young children, and endured the harshest conditions, will receive the highest level of support,” they said.

I know this will be difficult information to receive but it is in no way intended to make you feel excluded or disregard your personal experience.

When asked about the exclusion of some survivors from the scheme, a spokesperson for the Department of Children told The Journal they “appreciate that there are many people who will not be eligible for the scheme and who are disappointed by that”.

“It is recognised that there are people who suffered stigma, trauma and abuse in other institutions, and outside of institutions also,” they added.

The spokesperson said Westbank orphanage is not included in the scheme because its main function was not “providing sheltered and supervised ante and post-natal facilities to single mothers and their children”.

1000015109 Patrick has made artwork in memory of the children who died in Bethany Home Patrick Anderson McQuoid Patrick Anderson McQuoid

They noted that the Government has committed to delivering 22 actions – such as counselling and giving adopted people access to their records – to help survivors.

As of 15 April, some 12,147 applications for records under the Birth Information and Tracing Act have been processed by the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Tusla.

All applications are now being processed in accordance with statutory timeframes, the spokesperson added, after initial long delays in some cases.

Around 34,000 people are eligible to apply for redress under the Government’s scheme, which is estimated will cost around €800 million. However, some 24,000 survivors are excluded from the scheme.

Compensation for mothers starts at €5,000 and increases based on the duration of their stay and whether or not they engaged in ‘commercial work’.

TDs last year labelled the redress scheme “morally obnoxious” and “callous” because it excludes people who spent less than six months in an institution as a child.

The scheme also does not specifically cater to people who were boarded out as children, a precursor to fostering; people who were subjected to vaccine trials; and people who experienced racism or other discrimination in the system.

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