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Sinn Féin calls for apology and redress for surviving men and women of Bethany Home

10 December, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Sinn Féin TDs have put down a motion for debate in the Dáil calling on the government to provide an apology and redress for the small number of surviving men and women of Bethany Home who suffered neglect and harm under the state’s watch.

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald will be leading the debate to be held tonight and tomorrow night in the Dáil.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Bethany was excluded from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme on the basis that it was a private home for which the state had no responsibility. This is of course simply untrue. Bethany Home was subject to inspections under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act of 1934.

“As the Dáil went into recess this summer the Minister for Justice and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch jointly wrote to the Bethany Survivors Group stating that government would not extend an apology or redress to the small number of elderly men and women on the basis that Bethany was a mother and baby home.

“Evidence in the public domain and held by government departments show that Bethany Home was a mother and baby home; a children’s home and a place of detention for women on remand or convicted of crimes referred by the courts.

“Neglect in the Bethany Home was horrendous and as a result 219 children died between 1922 and 1949. These same children currently lie in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.

“Governments rationale for refusing to provide redress, supports and an apology to the survivors of Bethany Home simply do not stand up to scrutiny.” ENDS

Note to Editor:

Sinn Féin motion will be debated between 7:30 and 9pm in the Dáil on Tuesday and Wednesday night during Private Members Business. Wording of motion below.

That Dáil Éireann:

Accepts that Bethany Home, Rathgar (1922 – 1972) was a maternity home, a children’s home and a place of detention for women on remand or convicted of crimes referred by the courts;

Further accepts that Bethany Home was subject to inspection under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act 1934;

Recognises the state’s failure to vindicate the rights of sick and dying Bethany children after receiving reports of neglect by the Deputy Chief Medical Advisor;

Acknowledges that 219 Bethany Home children died between 1922 and 1949, and these same children currently lie in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin;

Further acknowledges Department of Local Government & Public Health inspector and media reports detailing the very serious neglect of Bethany children in the home and of children sent to nurse mothers;

Considers most serious the exclusion of the surviving men and women of Bethany Home from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme which provided for fair and reasonable awards to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in other institutions subject to state regulation or inspection;

Commits to a Dáil debate by mid-February 2014 as a first step in the delivery of a state apology, redress mechanism, and access to personal records for the small number of surviving men and women of Bethany Home.

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