State not responsible for Bethany Home abuse, says Quinn
McDonald calls for apology and redress for victims
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said: “The Government has not been satisfied that in the case of the people who were placed in the Bethany Home . . . agents of the State were responsible for placing those people in those homes.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The State was not responsible for the ill-treatment of babies and children in the Bethany Home, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn told the Dáil. The home closed in 1972.
He said he automatically and instinctively sympathised with people who had the experience of being abandoned, for whatever reason, and placed in childcare homes, which were cold places for any child who could have expected to be brought up in a loving environment.
He said the State had looked back on the record of Dáil predecessors and those responsible, with the State’s authority, for placing people in institutions which subsequently turned out to be places of extraordinary abuse. “I have had some experienced in this regard and I have to say that the Government has not been satisfied that in the case of the people who were placed in the Bethany Home, and who had a very difficult and harsh experience which no one can excuse, agents of the State were responsible for placing those people in those homes.”
Mr Quinn was replying to Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who called for an apology and redress for the victims of the home. She said she did not accept Ireland at the time being a harsh and cold place as an excuse for not doing anything. The home, she said, was a maternity home, a children’s home and a place of detention for women. It was subject to inspection under the Registration of Maternity Homes Act 1934. “The Minister knows, as I know, that the State, under the department with responsibility for local government as well as public health inspectors, has records cataloguing the deficiencies, defects and neglect in that home,” she said.