Bethany victims deserve redress

In agreeing to implement one of the principal recommendations of Mr Justice Quirke’s Magdalene report that all lump sum payments to survivors of the Magdalene laundries be exempt from tax, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, in the course of Budget 2014, has made a virtue of doing what is right and moral.

A more accurate reflection of the Government’s moral compass is the persistent refusal to include the Protestant victims of the Bethany Home in Dublin in the Residential Institutional Redress Act, 2002.

It is absurd and indefensible that abused children of Bethany are less cherished by the State than children of similar institutions. So much for the Government’s promises during the Children’s Referendum of 2012.

Speaking in the wake of that referendum, the Taoiseach said the Government would respond “positively and wholeheartedly” and match the new legislation with appropriate action. Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald referred to the decision of the people as giving a voice to children, and that it was an historic day for the children of Ireland that would ensure their rights were better protected, and was an affirmation that the State recognised the ‘natural and imprescriptible rights’ of children, which would be protected and vindicated by the State.

In Bethany, Protestant victims were denied compassion, dignity, affection, love and a sense of being cherished.

They are still being denied this by the State. Shame on us all.

Tom Cooper

Knocklyon

Dublin 16

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