Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe says he is glad to hear that Bethany Homes survivor Derek Leister’s case to the European Court of Human Rights has been accepted.
The Irish Government’s failure and refusal to include the Protestant Church run Bethany Children’s Homes in its redress scheme has led the chairman of the survivors group to take the case.
Crowe said that the Government’s decision not to include the homes at that time was based purely on a monetary one and had absolutely nothing to do with justice or about what was the right thing for the State to do.
The graves of 219 children who died in the Bethany Homes between 1922 and 1949 were found in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin a number of years ago. 54 of the children had died from convulsions and a further 41 died from heart failure and 25 of malnutrition.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“We know that there are still many people who live with the lasting legacy of mental, physical and sexual abuse suffered as a result of their time in state run institutions.
“The state redress board was about much more than receiving compensation. It was supposed to be motivated by compassion and a concern for those who were abused while under the care of the State.
“It was one way of getting recognition for people who had suffered dreadful abuse.
“Derek Leinster, the chairman of the Bethany Homes survivors’ group suffered gastroenteritis diphtheria, whooping cough and pneumonia as a child in the home.
“The announcement 3 years ago that the survivors of Bethany Home were to be excluded from redress is a bitter blow to the handful of survivors that remain.
“The decision was a monetary one and had in my opinion absolutely nothing to do with justice or what was the right thing to do.
“Derek Leinster, the Chairman of the Bethany survivors’ group felt that he had no other option but to go to the European Court of Human Rights in relation to his treatment received in the Protestant Church run Institution.
“The unpalatable reality is that the Irish state abandoned their duty of care to children in institutions run by various religious dominations.
“Successive Irish governments repeatedly chose to ignore the plight of the Bethany victims, as they had done previously to the countless others who survived the Magdalene Laundry institutions.
“There is a huge responsibility on the State, as representatives and as guardians of the interests of the citizens of Ireland to ensure that victims of institutional abuse are given every opportunity to seek meaningful restitution in this jurisdiction.
“The Government’s decision to ignore the evidence linking this State to the Bethany Homes has meant that Derek Leinster has had to go to Europe to seek justice and recognition of the rightness of his cause.
“While I welcome that the Court has accepted his case, it is awful to think people who were neglected and ignored for so many years have to go to such lengths to achieve justice and recognition of wrongs perpetrated against them.
“Documents gained under the Freedom of information Act revealed that many of the infants who died between 1922 and 1949 were months, weeks, even days old when they were interred in an unmarked grave in Mount Jerome Cemetery. Those documents will now play a key part in the European Court of Human Rights case.”