Care home survivors hit out at 'delaying tactics'
Published 14/09/2010 | 05:00
FORMER residents of a care home where dozens of children died have accused Education Minister Mary Coughlan of using "delaying tactics" to avoid meeting them.
Last week the minister said she was waiting for a report on Bethany Home, a Protestant-run institution in Rathgar, Co Dublin, which she intended to examine. However, she didn't specify what report this was.
Her spokesman said he believed she was referring to the information collated by academic Niall Meehan about the home -- but the survivors say they were never asked for this.
"They will do as many delaying tactics as possible," said former resident Derek Leinster after he and others presented letters to the Taoiseach and ministers for education, health and justice.
"We've had 13 years of this playing around. She (Mary Coughlan) needs to stop this nonsense now and meet us."
In the letters presented yesterday, the former residents called for their inclusion in the State Redress Scheme.
"We demand the rights that should be accorded to all Irish citizens, the right to equality of treatment and the right to redress for failings that are the responsibility of the State. We demand this also for women confined in so-called Magdalene Laundries, who also are denied redress by your Government," they stated.
Researcher Niall Meehan recently discovered the unmarked graves in Mount Jerome cemetery of children who died in the home. He said that there was no doubt Bethany Home had been a place of detention for unmarried mothers and met the criteria for the redress scheme.
He pointed to a letter he received in July this year from Barry O'Donnell, secretary to the Justice Minister, in which he admitted that Bethany Home was: "Registered by the then Minister for Justice on 17 April, 1945, as a place of detention for offending female, non-Catholic children and young persons, under 17 years of age."
Mr Meehan pointed out that when Mr Leinster earlier sought this information it was denied to him. He also confirmed that the minister had not asked for a copy of his extensive research.
"We were banished and dumped as if we were pieces of trash," said Mr Leinster of children in the home. "We want to be treated no differently than any body else."
Ms Coughlan said last week she would be discussing the issue of Bethany House with Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.