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Enda can’t score when disregarding Protestant children’s homes

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has accused the IRA and Sinn Féin of covering up child sexual abuse and moving those accused of offences from Northern Ireland to the Republic.

Mr Kenny was speaking during a Dáil discussion of allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Provisional republican movement.

Fine Gael would do well to deal with victims of abuse rather than trying to score political points.

They should face up to their own short-sighted involvement in children’s homes with one Fine Gael councillor I can remember very happy to support the woman who ran the Westbank orphanage. She even awarded her a person of the year award. Enda might like to know that while this councillor may have thought she was a wonderful woman, there are mixed views from those who had to live there.

It is astonishing how local leaders ie politicians and church leaders always saw these homes as “places of love and christianity”. But what took place there unfortunately ruined the lives of thousands as we all know.

Adeline Mathers ran the Westbank (aka Mayil) orphanage in Co Wicklow for over 50 years. Originally known as the Protestant Home for Orphan & Destitute Girls and based in Harold’s Cross, Dublin, it moved to Wicklow in the late 1940s and began taking in boys as well as girls. Over the following decades, she presided over a regime whereby children were forced to carry out manual labour, were deprived of food, whipped and beaten (so badly, at least on one occasion, that the authorities had be called). Residents were also trafficked illegally over the border and placed with unregistered foster carers — in some of these arrangements, the children also suffered from physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse.

Former residents of the home, together with survivors of other Protestant-run institutions, recently met with Children’s Minister James Reilly in an effort to have these homes included in any investigations of abuse and/or redress scheme. The residents also called for the movement of children and pregnant women over the borders to be examined by the Commission, in tandem with the ongoing Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland.

Former residents are also calling for all records kept by Westbank to be made available. I want Westbank and institutions like it to be included in the terms of reference for the commission of investigation. If we don’t face up to the problems of the past with transparency and honesty then there is little hope of facing a new future.

Colm Begley,

Clocha liatha,


Co Cork


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