Mother and baby home survivor blasts Minister over meeting

by Padraig Conlon

A survivor of a Dublin Mother and Baby home has accused Katherine Zappone of “passing the buck.”

Derek Leinster, a survivor of the protestant Bethany Home in Rathgar, was speaking following a meeting between the Bethany Home Survivors Group and the Minister for Children last Thursday.

Derek and a few of his fellow survivors had come to the Dail to ask Minister Zappone to extend the Residential Redress Scheme to include Bethany Home Survivors.

For the past two decades they’ve campaigned tirelessly for the government to extend to them the same redress offered to survivors of abuse at Catholic institutions.

Despite the Commission of Investigation of Mother and Baby Homes last year saying it didn’t see why residents of the Bethany Home were excluded from the State’s 2002 redress scheme, they still await a decision.

They were left bitterly disappointed once again however last Thursday when they were told the Government was unwilling to commit to a “fast track” redress scheme to compensate them.

“I told the Minister for Children in our meeting that it was her that is stopping the few Bethany Home survivors from getting justice as she has only to go to the Government, like they did for the Catholic homes,” Derek Leinster told Dublin Gazette.

Leinster says Zappone told them she hadn’t been able to persuade the Minister for Education and the Attorney General to extend the Redress Scheme.

“She shouldn’t be allowed to pass the buck to the Minister of Education,” he said.

“Why is she being bullied?

“The Minister for Children keep’s saying that you cannot interfere with the Commission’s work and she is right.

“But how come it is OK for the Minister of Education, Joe McHugh to interfere and stop Minister Zappone from carrying out the Commission 2016 interim report of the 2015 Commission.

“There is some wrong here.

“The government could order that Bethany be included in a redress scheme today.

“There are less than twenty Bethany Home Survivors left, many of us died during the 20 years we have been fighting for State acknowledgement that we existed.

“I’m coming to the end of the line, there’s five or six others who are the same.

“In order to provide for the living they should immediately set up a redress scheme.

“Our Protestant churches ignored their responsibilities for abuse in homes they sponsored and managed.

“That does not excuse our Irish State doing the same.”

In response to a query from Dublin Gazette regarding the meeting, a spokesman for Minister Zappone said:

“Minister Zappone expressed her deep appreciation and understanding for the advocacy work of the Bethany survivors.

“She acknowledges this work.

“The Minister was delighted to accept an invitation to visit the memorial in Mount Jerome Cemetery to the children who died in the Bethany Home.

“The Minister re-iterated her commitment to allow the Commission of Investigation to complete its work with a final report due in February 2020 as well the dual process of responding to the recommendations of the Collaborative Forum on the health and well-being needs of survivors.

“A cross Government response continues to be developed to respond to those needs.”

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