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Treatment of Bethany Home survivors is unforgiveable – Crowe

11 December, 2013 - by Seán Crowe TD


Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has challenged the Government over its treatment of Bethany Home survivors and victims in a speech in the Dáil this evening.

Bethany Home survivors were excluded from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme on the basis that Bethany was a private home for which the State had no responsibility. Crowe produced compelling evidence that proves otherwise.

Deputy Crowe said:

“The treatment of Bethany Home survivors is unforgiveable.

“The survivors of the terrible conditions of Bethany Home were excluded from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme on the basis that Bethany was a private home for which the State had no responsibility.

“The State had responsibility to Bethany Home as it was subject to state inspections under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act 1934.

“The state also, in some instances, made financial contributions to the cost of ‘nursing out children’- sending children temporarily to foster care.

“Irish Times and Irish Independent reports in 1924, 1931 and 1940 detail how homeless Protestant women or some women who committed ‘crimes’ were ordered by courts to enter Bethany Home.

“The evidence of State involvement goes much deeper. In 1939 the then Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Government, Dr Winslow Sterling Berry, refuted public and health inspectorate concerns over Bethany's standards of care with his jaundiced opinion that it was 'well known that illegitimate children are delicate and suffer from starvation'. He then forced the home to agree to cease admitting Roman Catholics.

“Such was the extent of the brutal neglect in Bethany Home that 219 children died there between 1922 and 1949. The remains of these same children currently lie in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin.

“They are here to this day, hidden, their passage in life ignored, and left in death abandoned. 

“More deaths, and additional non-fatal illnesses, took place in the first ten year period from when Bethany was subject to a state inspection regime than in the previous 10 years during which 57 children died.

“The Government needs to live up to its responsibility and add Bethany Home to Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

“The State cannot protect children today if doesn’t live up to past gross failings.

“We were told for years that there was no information linking the State to the Magdalene Laundries, but it was suddenly found.

“I suggest the overlooked information linking Bethany to the State can also be found.”

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