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Government has failed the survivors of Bethany Home - McDonald

11 December, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Government has failed the survivors of Bethany Home - McDonald

Speaking ahead of tonight’s concluding Dáil debate on Bethany Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD has described the government’s refusal to provide redress and supports to survivors of the home as a shameful chapter in this government’s administration.

The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader said:

“It is ten years since the Labour party first demanded that the men and women who survived barbaric neglect in Bethany be included in the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme. In 2010 Minister of State Kathleen Lynch described the exclusion of Bethany from the scheme as ‘a running sore’.

“Prior to taking up her position in government Deputy Lynch was one of the more outspoken TDs in the Dáil demanding justice for the survivors of Bethany Home. What a difference a Ministerial position makes.

“Speaking in the Dáil last night on behalf of the government Kathleen Lynch told us that the state had no responsibility to the children in Bethany Home. This is simply untrue. Under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act of 1934 such institutions were subject to state inspections. These very same inspections detail disturbing neglect and we know of the high levels of mortality in the home.

“In some instances the state also made payments to foster mothers who took in Bethany children temporarily, and also undertook inspections. Records of such state inspections detail the horrific neglect these children suffered in Bethany and in the homes they were fostered out to. The State was acutely aware of the suffering of children in these foster homes but nothing was done to protect them.

“Bethany was also a place of detention for women on remand or convicted of crimes referred by the courts. Newspaper reports from 1940 reported from proceedings in the High Court that ‘the Civic Guards were in the habit of sending any homeless Protestant girl to Bethany.’ State involvement in the home was manifold.

“Listening to Kathleen Lynch last night it was as if we had stepped back in time, with not a single lesson having been learnt from the litany of reports and revelations regarding the historic neglect and abuse of children in care under the watch of the state. Labour and Fine Gael have failed the surviving women and men of Bethany Home, failed them absolutely.”

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