Belfast Telegraph

Bethany Home redress 'reconsidered'

The Government is to consider reversing its decision to refuse compensation to survivors of a mother and baby home where more than 200 infants died before being buried in unmarked graves.

Ruairi Quinn, Education Minister, said he would ask for the option of redress for people who were in the Protestant Bethany Home in Dublin to be re-examined, a day after a special memorial was unveiled to the dead children.

Campaigners from the Bethany Survivors Group said it can provide evidence of a failure of statutory oversight of the home, in operation from 1921-1972 first in Blackhall Place, Dublin, and later in Rathgar.

Niall Meehan, spokesman for the group whose research identified the unmarked graves, said: "Many died due to just such a failure of oversight."

A 6ft Kilkenny limestone headstone carrying the names of 222 dead babies from the Bethany home who were buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin, was yesterday unveiled at a new plot in the graveyard.

Details of all the youngsters who died at the mother and child home have also been posted on the campaign group's Facebook page.

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein deputy leader, had pressed the Government to reconsider taking responsibility for the state's failures in duty of care to the children.

"It is not simply a matter of who placed the children in these homes. The issue is the failure of the state to oversee adequate and proper standards and to secure the safety of those citizens in that home," she said.

Ms McDonald described Bethany as a maternity home, a children's home and a place of detention for women. She said it was subject to inspection under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act 1934 and records exist cataloguing the deficiencies, defects and neglect in that home.

Mr Quinn said: "The principle stands, that is, if sufficient and satisfactory evidence, that is conclusive and in form similar to that of other institutions where a response has been made, can be convincingly brought forward, then the Government is of course prepared to look at it, but so far we have not been convinced."

The Bethany group claims to have documents proving state officials ignored evidence of neglect and record numbers of deaths in the home in the late 1930s.

In 2010, the group, with the help of Mr Meehan, discovered 219 unmarked graves in Mount Jerome of children from the home.

The Government determined last year that former Bethany inmates would not get state compensation similar to the survivors of Magdalene laundries or clerical abuse because they did not suffer sex abuse, brutality or forced labour.

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