By DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

Sunday January 20 2013

Defunct Protestant care homes were included in the State redress scheme for victims of child abuse because the Department of Health and Children knew there would be no claims from them, newly obtained documents reveal.

Emails between officials in the department in the past decade, which have just come available to the Sunday Independent, show that a number of Protestant care homes were included because they knew there would be no claims from centres which “operated in the 1800s”.

The documentation released is part of a legal case that abuse victims are preparing to take against the State.

The emails date from 2003 when the then Fianna Fail-led Government was under severe pressure to widen the scope of the clerical abuse redress scheme which has now exceeded €1.36bn.

According to documents released, officials included Mrs Smyly’s Homes for Necessitous Children on the grounds there would be no claims from those institutions. One official wrote to his colleague: “I would be inclined to include them in the schedule as they were used as residential centres for children. I think it is safe to assume that there will be no applications for those centres which operated in the 1800s!”

Protestant abuse victims at the former Bethany Home have said the revelation shows a “highly cynical” move by officials to include defunct Protestant homes for “purely optical reasons” while institutions that would have resulted in claims to the State continue to be omitted.

Derek Leinster, chairman of the Bethany Home Survivors Group, said the documents showed clearly how their rights as citizens had continually been denied by the State.

“Why were defunct homes like the Mrs Smyly’s Homes included when Bethany Home, which certainly qualified under the State’s own criteria for abuse, has been omitted and remains outside the scheme today?” he said.

“It is a disgrace. All we want is justice. The Catholic homes are all included yet Protestant homes like Bethany remain ignored. Why?”

Responding to queries from the Sunday Independent, the Department of Education denied that Bethany Home was excluded from the redress scheme on religious grounds.

“Any allegations that Bethany Home was excluded from the redress scheme on religious grounds are not true. While the inclusion of Bethany Home was considered, it was not included within the redress scheme,” a spokeswoman for Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said.

“Minister Quinn met with Bethany Survivors Group on May 24, 2011. He subsequently reviewed the papers on the home, and having taken all the circumstances into account found no basis to revisit the decision not to include the home within the redress scheme.”

Mr Leinster and other Bethany Home survivors of abuse have also been critical of Church of Ireland leaders over their response to their calls for compensation.

However, a spokesman for the Church of Ireland said Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson remains supportive of their efforts.

“Archbishop Jackson met a number of former residents of Bethany Home shortly after taking up office,” he said.

“The archbishop expressed his concern for former residents and relayed that he had written to the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn encouraging him to re-examine as a matter of urgency the group’s appeal to include Bethany Home in the State redress scheme. Archbishop Jackson continues to be supportive of the Bethany Home Survivors Group’s efforts.”

– DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter


5 Responses to “Defunct homes included in abuse redress scheme”

  1. jack says:

    smyly homes is still very much operating today in Ireland with the full support of the state (government of the day) and nothing really has changed ..

  2. Raymond says:


  3. Raymond says:

    Thank you Christina for your enlightening comment.

    Also: I would like to believe that maybe – just MAY’be – there HAS been a change recently and that we have turned a (very wide) corner as we meander our way out of collective amnesia: I think that brave Fiona Doyle has caused Irish society to express their outrage and indignation at the unbelievable walking-out-of-court of her despicable father, and subsequent U-turn and incarceration of same monster, while at the same time putting the spotlight squarely on our Judges and their ludicrous sentencing, and roping in Enda Kenny to bring the necessary amendments to the Law. May this abominable father also, only come out to attend his own funeral.

    Finally: I would like to flag the extraordinary film on the occasion of the Dublin Film Festival, at the Lighthouse cinema, Friday 15th February at 18:00. It has been short-listed for an Academy Award and Director Alex Gibney will attend. This film reflects well the mood of the previous post, about Abuse of people with special needs.

  4. jack says:

    how is the Bethany home any different than a Smyly home?

  5. Christina says:

    “Groupthink” occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressure leads to a deterioration of mental effeciency and moral judgement’. Groups affected by ‘groupthink’ tend to take irrational actions that dehumanise other groups. A group is vulnerable to ‘groupthink’ when its members are similar in background. The group is insulated from outside opinion and there are no clear rules for decision making” .

    RTE was accused of using this type of thinking in the programme about Fr. Reynold. I remember thinking at the time that this word, ‘groupthink’, would more accurately describe the type of thinking used in the creation of the Redress Board. It is a word that came to mind again today when I read the above quoted email. The author of the email, a government official, clearly finds something comical about the subject and ‘dehumanises’ the victims of institutional abuse, by making them the butt of his/her joke by implying that the only survivors who would not be looking for money are dead ones.

    Using their positions of power, the Government, its civil servants and the Church (the Group) worked together to create a redress system that outwardly appeared to acknowledge and address the suffering of thousands but in reality was more about portraying that image rather than it being a genuine attempt at redress (again evident in the email). By excluding survivors from all negotiations and discussions in the creation of the redress system, the government and church were able to make sure that the redress system worked the way they wanted it to and that they had complete control of the final outcome. In doing so too, they could include and exclude who they wanted. The State and church continued to ‘dehumanise’ survivors by refusing to see them as a group of equal importance, worthy and capable of negotiation and discussion. This dehumanisation is also evident in the refusal of the state to see all survivors of institutions as equal and obviously chose only to deal with survivors that it had a legal obligation to only.

    This ’email’ only confirms what I always knew anyway, that our government was not sincere in its apology, that the redress board was more about our government protecting itself and the church and that in reality, behind the closed doors of government offices, survivors continue to be mocked, are the butt of their jokes, ‘dehumanised’,

Leave a Reply