Tuesday 12 December 2017

Bethany Home survivors hit out at two ministers

Victims say Shatter and Lynch 'grossly arrogant' in meetings before State redress scheme rejection

U-TURN: Kathleen Lynch had been supporter of cause
U-TURN: Kathleen Lynch had been supporter of cause

DANIEL McCONNELL Political Correspondent

ABUSE survivors of the Protestant Bethany Home who failed in their bid for inclusion in the State's €1.5bn redress scheme have branded Ministers Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch as "grossly arrogant" in their attitude towards them.

Ms Lynch was singled out for particular criticism by survivors.

The survivors also said it is now their intention to launch litigation against the Government in order to obtain "justice from the State that abandoned us".

The scathing attack on the ministers relates to a meeting in Leinster House earlier this year.

The survivors said they kept quiet about it up until now for fear of jeopardising their bid for justice.

But the chairman of the Bethany survivors' group, Derek Leinster, this weekend said he is "no longer prepared to remain silent" in the wake of the Government's decision last Tuesday not to include the 18 remaining Bethany survivors in the State's redress scheme,

"I stayed quiet on this because I didn't want to risk jeopardising our case. But (Mr) Shatter was an hour and a half late, then he only stayed for half an hour, by which time the introductions were just coming to an end," he said.

"But Kathleen Lynch was appalling. It was shocking how they treated us. She was a vocal supporter of our cause in opposition but now in power she behaved like this," he said.

Ms Lynch said in a statement in May 2010 that she fully supported their claim for inclusion in the redress scheme. She also attended at Mount Jerome when the first 40 of the graves were discovered.

The Sunday Independent sought a response from Mr Shatter and Ms Lynch, but none was forthcoming this weekend.

In a joint letter to the survivors, sent last week, and obtained by the Sunday Independent, Mr Shatter and Ms Lynch said in 2011 Education Minister Ruairi Quinn examined the case of the Bethany Home. He found no basis to reverse a decision of the previous government to exclude the Protestant home from the scheme and as of now "this position remains unchanged".

The Government attempted to defend its decision, saying that unlike the Magdalene Laundries, Bethany was a mother and baby home and therefore not eligible for inclusion in the scheme.

But survivors have argued that it was a children's home, and subject to State inspection.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, who has been a vocal supporter of the Bethany campaign, said there is a "wealth of evidence in the public domain proving State culpability in the neglect and harm of children residing in Bethany Home."

She added: "Bethany survivors were unjustly excluded from the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme by the previous government on a false pretext. It is simply wrong of Fine Gael and Labour ministers to perpetuate this wrong."

Sunday Independent

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