Mother and Baby Homes Commission called on to release details of buried children

Mother and Baby Homes Commission called on to release details of buried children
The Bethany Home memorial.

Bethany Home survivors have called on the Mother and Baby Homes Commission to release the details of additional burials it has found in relation to children who died in the care of the institution.

In its fifth interim report published last month, the Commission said that 240 children from the Bethany Home are recorded as having been buried in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin but that it had discovered "at least 20 other children who died and are not recorded in the Mount Jerome burial register".

The report also listed 27 children found in the Mount Jerome burial records as coming from other addresses, with 24 of those being various hospitals around Dublin.

The Commission has claimed that, under Sec 11(3) of the Commissions of Investigation (COI) Act, it is legally prohibited from releasing any evidence or documents given to it. As a result, it claimed it can't inform family members of the burial details of their relatives.

Legal experts have claimed that not only is the Commission misinterpreting this section, but that it is obliged under human rights law to provide information to family members under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Following the publication of its recent report, Head of Journalism and Media at Griffith College in Dublin Niall Meehan wrote to the Commission asking it to release to the Bethany Survivors Campaign the details of the apparent deaths so they can be compared with the group's own research and added to the Bethany memorial.

Mr Meehan, who discovered over 200 Bethany Home children buried in Mount Jerome in 2010, also wrote to the Commission in April and May seeking clarification on a number of, what he claims are, apparent omissions and errors in the report.

These include:

  • the apparent omission of 71 children identified by Bethany Home survivor Derek Leinster as having died after transfer from the institution
  • an apparent mistake in stating the ages of the two oldest Bethany children buried in Mount Jerome at 19 and 36 months instead of 48 and 36 months and the failure to present the ages of those buried and when they died.

Mr Meehan informed the Commission that its decision to omit from its report children who had been in the institutions and who died after they were placed at nurse or boarded out "makes no sense". He pointed out that all these children "were at all times under the control of Bethany Home" so they should be included.

The Commission said it was "not in a position to discuss the contents of its report" but would address the issue of boarded-out children in its final report.

The Bethany Home Survivors group will today meet with children's minister Katherine Zappone and call for, among other things, a ‘fast track’ redress scheme for ageing survivors of the institution.

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