End Bethany’s stain on Ireland’s character now

Unlike Derek Leinster, (letters, Dec 14), I am not a product of the Bethany Home but I nonetheless feel outraged at the treatment these children received and a sense of anger at my powerlessness.

The disgrace called Bethany has been in the public domain for 14 years now, primarily as a result of the unrelenting persistence of Mr Leinster’s marathon campaign for justice. It is not just government who have long-armed this issue, but some in positions of trust, power and influence in the Church are also complicit.

Does the Minister for Children Ms Frances Fitzgerald possess the real values of her ministry and will she be the one to end this stain on Ireland’s character?

Will Minister Fitzgerald be the one to finally ensure that this Christmas will be the last Christmas those few remaining victims of Bethany will be required to fight for their rights?

We in this country are attempting to find our way through a most distressing period in our history in regard to Catholic clerical sex abuse. It has not been easy.

As a society, albeit a battered and confused one, we are confronting our demons and will emerge a more tolerant, compassionate and stronger people. Let us show in a tangible way that we are a truly caring society and demand that our government acknowledge the suffering of Protestant children from Bethany.

Why these institutions were referred to as homes remains beyond me. My interpretation of the term home is a place of warmth, affection, love and being wanted. Bethany failed on all of these headings.

I demand that my government does not prolong the abuse of these former Bethany children any longer by remaining apparently indifferent to their plight.

Although some of this abuse was perpetrated more than 70 years ago, it is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

For one who was treated by church and state with such harshness and coldness, Derek Leinster personifies forgiveness and warmth. He displays a truly Christian character that seems to be absent in some churchmen. As he continues his too-long journey seeking justice, not revenge; acknowledgement of the suffering inflicted, not recrimination, Mr Leinster is a beacon of light and a shining example to all who have suffered abuse as children, and have had that suffering denied over decades while still retaining values and standards so missing in some of our institutions.

Tom Cooper

Knocklyon

Dublin 16

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