Bethany survivors deserve equal treatment

THERE are reports that some leaders of Roman Catholic religious orders who represent institutions at which systematic abuse took place are reluctant to meet Ruairi Quinn.

The minister’s desire to obtain from them 50% of the cost of institutional abuse compensation may not succeed. In what may turn out to be a more serious problem, replies from Ministers Quinn and Shatter to Sean Crowe TD on Wednesday of last week raise the prospect that the state is in danger of losing all monies so far paid or pledged, never mind extra amounts requested. One reply stated that the money so far raised from institutions with a non Roman Catholic ethos that are listed on the Schedule to the Redress Act is precisely nil. While a small proportion of the total, failure to address this anomaly successfully may leave the state open to challenge under Article 44.2 of the Constitution, that prohibits the endowing of religious groupings and also religious discrimination.

That answered one question. Another asked whether, in the light of the same constitutional provisions and of Senator Martin McAleese being asked to examine state interactions with Roman Catholic Magdalene institutions, should he not also examine those with the Bethany Home. In pursuit of this reasonable request Niall Meehan, representing the Bethany Survivor’s group, had a very good meeting late last week with Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch, together with TDs Joe Costello and Robert Dowds. The message passed on was that Bethany survivors wish to be treated equally, as part of the McAleese investigation process. Within southern Ireland’s confessional and sectarian welfare system many Protestants and Catholics in residential care were treated badly, though separately. In coming to grips with the legacy of this system the state is in danger of discriminating against one group of survivors, some Protestants whom I have the honour of representing.

Derek Leinster

Chairperson

Bethany Survivors Group

42 Southey Road, Rugby

Warwickshire, England

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