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Bethany Home Survivors Response to Minister Shatter.

bethany homesAlan Shatter rejects Bethany Survivors’ claim for redress. 

Last week the Justice Minister Alan Shatter issued a letter rejecting redress for Bethany survivors after a day of confusion. An announcement was promised after a cabinet discussion. Then there was to be no announcement. This turned into a ‘briefing’ by the minister and announced in a letter issued by email at 18.24pm. 

Derek Leinster, chair of the survivors group said:
‘Bethany was not a Mother and Babies home as the minister’s letter said. 
Mothers did not bring their babies home and many children arrived there with no mother at all. Children remained unaccompanied up to the age of three officially, five in practice. That is why an inspection report designated Bethany as ‘a children’s home’ in 1938.
We have proved that the state was responsible for death and neglect at the home and that it was more interested in maintaining sectarian peace between Roman Catholics and Protestants than in child welfare. That is why the state medical adviser declared that it was well known that illegitimate children were delicate and marasmic (starving)’. That is why there are 219 children in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome cemetery. 
The offer to look at records production and ‘modest’ funding for a memorial is an insult. 
We are not going away. We’ll be back.’
Niall Meehan  (Sec Bethany Survivors) comment on Minister Shatter comments on RTE News at One 24 July 2013 (link to comments below)
The government’s proposal for ‘modest funding’ for a memorial for 219 dead mainly Protestant children in unmarked graves is reminiscent of Dean Swift’s “Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country”

In denying redress and compensation, the government does not want the Bethany survivors, no longer a burden to parents who abandoned them, to be a burden on the exchequer. 
Minister Shatter’s assertion (RTE News at One) that there was no neglect in Bethany is pitiful and wrong. Is avoidable death a form of abuse that might satisfy the minister? 
A third of the 219 dead children died from 1935-39, most of the remainder from 1940-44. However, for one year and one week, 14 April 1939 to 21 April 1940 not a single Bethany child died because, uniquely, they were hospitalised. The contribution of the state’s Deputy Chief Medical Advisor, Winslow Sterling Berry, in January and October 1939 was to censor internal reports of Bethany neglect and to absolve the home of blame by declaring it was ‘well recognised’ that ‘illegitimate children are delicate and Marasmic (starving)’. He said Bethany’s problem was that it admitted Roman Catholics. Sterling Berry confidently predicted that public disquiet would go away once proselytizing officially stopped. He was right, the attention from competing Roman Catholics went away and children started dying again in April 1940. How abusive was that?
Alongside the 219 avoidable dead children are the numerous others suffering today with associated medical conditions. His assertion that children being sent out to suffer physical neglect from a Bethany appointed Foster mother is not a Bethany Home responsibility is unworthy of an intelligent politician. He appears somewhat fixated on sexual abuse. That did happen, to some children sent into abusive situations by Bethany Home, not in the home itself. Does the minster think that those factors are unrelated?
Minister’s comments at heading below at this address:
Bethany Home Survivors

Campaigning for Recognition and Redress from the Irish state

Watch RTE Prime Time documentary on Bethany Home:

PDF File on Bethany Home:

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