Adams backs Bethany campaigners’ redress bid

SINN Féin leader Gerry Adams has written to Justice Minister Alan Shatter on behalf of a group of Protestant campaigners seeking to be compensated by the Government for abuse suffered in Government institutions.

The Bethany Home survivors, led by Derek Leinster, are seeking to be included in the remit of an Inter-Departmental Committee on the Magdalene Laundries.

In his letter, Mr Adams says the failure of the state to properly monitor and manage conditions in Bethany was exposed in reports by the Deputy Chief Medical Adviser in 1939.

That advisor explained away neglect criticised by his own inspectors and higher than average mortality by claiming that “it is well recognised that a large number of illegitimate children are delicate”.

Mr Adams said it is “unacceptable to the survivors” that Bethany Home is excluded from the list of 10 institutions included in the mandate of the committee.

“Whatever the financial constraints there is an onus on the Government to compensate the victims of Bethany Home and to apologise and express publicly its regret at what occurred,” he wrote.

Earlier this year Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn rejected a call by former residents of Bethany Home to include them in the State Redress Scheme.

Mr Quinn stated that Bethany Home could not come within the scope of the scheme as it operated as a mother and baby home and was not a residential institution for which public bodies had responsibility.

However, survivor Mr Leinster has documents, seen by the Irish Examiner, which show that Bethany was part of the state’s mechanism for dispersing unwanted children around the system, and was not just a mother and baby home.

Academic Niall Meehan said the original decision to exclude Bethany was based on ignorance of its function in the system.

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