Girls sent to Bethany Home ‘as punishment’

Northern Protestants who became pregnant outside of marriage were sent to Dublin’s Bethany Home "as a punishment, to add to their shame and to hide the family problem," according to a support group representing the home’s survivors.

Girls sent to Bethany Home ‘as punishment’

In a meeting with Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, yesterday, Bethany Survivors asked that the “traffic” in unmarried mothers over the border be examined as part of the proposed commission of investigation into the State’s mother and baby homes.

They also called for the 2002 Redress Act Scheme to be re-opened so that excluded institutions such as Bethany and other mother and baby homes could be included.

Niall Meehan of Bethany Survivors said that the minister was supportive of moves to include the Church of Ireland Magdalen Home (Denny House), the Nurse Rescue Society, the Westbank Orphanage in Wicklow and Ovoca House Orphanage in Wicklow in the investigation.

Chair Derek Leinster, who has long called for an investigation into the treatment of mothers and children at Bethany, said “all these homes were associated with the Bethany Home.”

Victor Stevenson, also of Bethany Survivors, said: “If the 2002 Redress Scheme is re-opened, survivors could then document their allegations of abuse, illness, neglect, plus forced and international adoptions. We need the scheme to remain open for survivors whose claims are dependent on recovery of documents during the investigation phase of the inquiry.”

There was enormous disappointment amongst Bethany Survivors when the home was not included in the Ryan Report and then in the Quirke Redress Scheme for Magdalene survivors two years ago.

Most of the survivors are in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Campaigner Niall Meehan asked the minister if the planned commission of investigation could be completed in modules so that survivors’ testimony could be collated early as they fear that the historical investigations could drag on, meaning that many survivors will have died before a state apology is made and redress paid.

The Bethany Survivors also asked for all records relating to the homes to be handed over to a public body with scheme of access for survivors, their families, and bona fide researchers.

The terms of reference of the mother and baby home investigation have yet to be decided. Bethany Survivors will be sending in a submissions with their requests.

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