Tuesday 20 August 2019

Redress should be for all victims

I endorse Professor James Smith's call for redress for the women incarcerated in Ireland's Magdalene laundries (Irish Independent, March 25).

As a survivor of the Bethany Home, Rathgar, Dublin, I am aware from continuing research that it is in the same category. Bethany is known as a Protestant evangelical maternity home associated with the Church of Ireland, though the church, of which I am member, denies any responsibility for the home itself or what went on there.

Bethany was also a place where women were sent by the courts for crimes ranging from petty theft to birth concealment and infanticide. In addition, as late as 1965, women were incarcerated there "on prison remand". Bethany also took in women characterised as from "the poor prostitute class". In addition the courts sent children to the home.

I wrote to the Justice Minister on March 8 raising these and other points, such as an abnormal number of child deaths. I also asked to meet with the minister and his officials. I have yet to receive a reply, or even an acknowledgement. At least the Education Minister responded, even if it was to turn down my request for a meeting. Being ignored is par for the course with regard to the State's attitude to non-Catholic victims of institutional abuse.

I am grateful to Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) for raising the Bethany Home with government ministers and their officials, as part of the campaign for redress for survivors of the Magdalene homes. I am disheartened to note, however, from Prof Smith's letter that JFM is now also being ignored.

Equality of indifference is not good enough from a State pledged to treat all its children equally, with respect and with redress.

Derek Leinster

Warwickshire, England

Irish Independent

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