Our society cannot let Protestant child abuse scandals be forgotten

Diarmuid Martin is to be congratulated for his recent remarks that there is “no way” the abuse of thousands of children within the Irish church can be swept under the rug. Would that such moral courage and leadership was replicated by those who have responsibility to account for the treatment of children who were placed in Protestant institutions such as Bethany Dublin, and Westbank Greystones.

While many survivors of these homes have harrowing and heartbreaking stories to tell, the spectre that overshadows everything is the fact that for over 20 years 219 babies died in Bethany, and their remains lie in unmarked land. I refuse to believe the people of Ireland would wish their remains be disrespected in this fashion, and for their short lives to be treated as worthless. How could these children have been abused and neglected to the point of death, how could this have been allowed to happen? There are those who hold and know the answers, please tell us.

Surely as a society we cannot allow these deaths to be ignored or forgotten.! Neither can the abuse which many survivors suffered, be “brushed under the carpet”. By implementing an investigation with regard to the institutions mentioned, the Government would be indicating that we are all of equal worth. I do not think society wants the current silence to continue in its name.

As a survivor of the Westbank home, I truly believe that until all survivors of institutions from all sections of the community, (including the memory of those who died in them through neglect and abuse) are treated equally, our society can never be at ease. If those in positions of authority, accountability and leadership would be prepared to allow all victims to be heard and remembered, I believe that our society would applaud such a course of action.

If this was initiated we would be helping to ensure that future generations of innocent children in Ireland could be protected, which as by right they deserve.

I pay tribute to those who have fought a long, and at times lonely, campaign for these issues.

It started out “as small as a man’s hand”, but it has grown into a mighty force for what is right, it will not and must not die down, until justice prevails.

Victor Stevenson

Bangor

Co Down

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