Bethany has once again been denied justice, and the survivors of this (minority Protestant community), have again been deprived of even-handedness.
Historically, the State starved Bethany of appropriate funding, and failed to implement the law of the land, to give children the protection of the 1908 Children Act, and all other international laws. It is mind-blowing to hear the Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, who was nominated by Kenny to carry out this duty for the citizens of Ireland. Shatter’s colleague, Kathleen Lynch, when in opposition, had to be contained, such was her outburst of passion for the Magdalene and Bethany survivors.
She, and other ministers and Labour TDs, were up to speed on the grotesque conditions that had been discovered by Niall Meehan and by my 15 years of digging for records that the Government would not supply.
If we had not been determined to get these records, the truth of the Bethany Homes would never have been known. RTÉ’s Prime Time broadcast the programme, ‘The Home the State forgot”. With the help of more than 1,000 FOI documents obtained in 2012, supplemented with records given to RTÉ, records found in 2007, we exposed how unwanted Protestant children were being treated by the Protestant Church officials and the State.
When you hear that same minister repeating the debunked statements issued by the previous government, saying there were no records, he is implying there was no damage done to these children. Do 219 dead children not matter?
How would the minister describe a child drowning in a boiling vat of gruel?
How would he define a mother who places her healthy child in Bethany, before she goes to the UK to work, and, months later, finds the child has had his back broken?
How would he term children who had rickets in their heads and legs? What would he say about me, when I suffered bronchial pneumonia, diphtheria, pertussis, and gastro enteritis (all at once). I have to live every day with the side effects of the lack of civilised care. Unlike the minister, I have the records to prove what I am saying, but the minister does not need records, as they mean not one jot to him.
Chairperson, Bethany Survivors Group