Bethany Home Survivors delegation to meet Education Minister Ruairi Quinn TD next Tuesday, 24 May, at 3.45pm in Leinster House

The delegation will consist of:
• Derek Leinster, Chairperson, Bethany Survivors;
• Bethany survivors, patrick Anderson McQuoid (Drumshambo) and Noleen Belton (Wicklow);
• James McGuill, solicitor;
• Niall Meehan, Griffith College Dublin, researcher; and
• Joe Costello TD

Bethany survivors are grateful to the Minister for agreeing to meet. The delegation will press on the minister the case for adding Bethany Home to the Schedule to the Redress Act, which awards compensation to victims of institutional abuse.
Last year unmarked graves of 219 Bethany children who died between 1922-49, were discovered in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin 8, by Bethany researcher Niall Meehan, (Journalism & Media Faculty of Griffith College Dublin). The vast majority of deaths occurred after the state was supposed to be inspecting the home under the 1934 Maternity Act, designed to put a stop to high mortality in unwed-mothers homes. Nearly two thirds of the deaths (132) occurred in the ten year period 1935-44, Nearly two fifths (86) occurred in the five year period 1935-39.
Children in the Protestant evangelical Bethany Home (1922-72), Orwell Road, Rathgar, suffered unnecessary illness, neglect and death, due to a top state official, the Deputy Chief Medical Adviser, undermining his own inspectors. They were critical of conditions in the home but the medical adviser overruled them. He was more concerned about keeping Catholics out of the home than about the condition of children in it. He wrote on 6 October 1939,

‘It is well recognised that a large number of illegitimate children are delicate… from their birth.’
(Winslow Sterling Berry, Deputy Chief Medical Adviser, Department of Local Government and Public Health, Ireland, after visiting the Bethany Home, Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin)
Berry’s attitude is in direct contrast to that of a later Chief Medical Adviser, who entered the Bessborough Mother and Babies Home, Cork, and reported,

‘I closed the place down and sacked the matron, a nun, and also got rid of the medical officer. The deaths had been going on for years. They had done nothing about it.’
(James Deeny, Chief Medical Adviser, Department of Health, after visiting Bessborough Mother and Babies Home, Cork during 1940s.)
The Irish state threatened Bethany Home with de-recognition in 1939, if it did not stop admitting Roman Catholic Mothers and babies. After Bethany Home did this, the state then refused until 1949 a grant that would have improved conditions and saved lives. Deaths continued, peaking at 16 in 1944, the year Bethany Survivors Chairperson, Derek Leinster, was sent to Cork Street Isolation Hospital for 135 days with Pertussis, Bronchial Pneumonia, Diphtheria & Enteritis, before being ‘adopted’ informally by a dysfunctional family in Wicklow in 1945 (organised by Hayes & Sons Solicitors). Leinster left Ireland, illiterate, at age 18, for England where he now lives.

Bethany Home’s intake represented the criminalization of childbirth outside marriage in Ireland. It was also a place of detention for Protestant women on remand and serving sentences for crimes ranging from petty theft up to infanticide. In addition, in 1945 on the invitation of then Minster for Justice Gerry Boland, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Dr Barton nominated Bethany Home as a place of detention for offending Protestant female children and teenagers.

The Irish state recognised, regulated and inspected a confessional welfare system, badly. Consequently, Bethany’s residents suffered and are still, like Derek Leinster who suffers life long illness, suffering. They deserve redress.

Further Information:
Derek Leinster
Chairperson Bethany Survivors 42 Southey Road Rugby CV22 6HF Warwickshire England
0044 1 788 817311 Mob 07857682601
Staying at North Star Hotel Dublin

Niall Meehan
Faculty Head, Journalism & Media, Griffith College Dublin, Dublin 8
00 353 (0)87 6428671

James McGuill
Solicitor, James McGuill & Company
00 353 (0)87 2561772


2 Responses to “Bethany Home Survivors delegation to meet Education Minister Ruairi Quinn TD next Tuesday, 24 May,”

  1. Kathy Jo Fulcher says:

    So no help… oh well i was abandoned at birth treated like a dog then sent to the states where I was treated like a dog… and now that i have found where i was kept like a dog. no one will can i take pride in my irish blood if no one will help me understand…

  2. Kathy Jo Fulcher says:

    I was one who was adopted out in 1949, around November of that year. I have no offical records how ever my birth moms name was Kathleen Codd, later married name was then changed to LOVE..She died last year. I would like offical documents of my birth at this Hell HOLE..I was very sick as a child and as an adult I suffer from lung problems.
    Any thing you can get for me will help. Thanking you in love …kj fulcher

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