Appeal for ‘fast track’ Bethany Home redress rejected

Zappone ‘reiterated commitment’ to allow Commission of Investigation finish work

On Thursday, Katherine Zappone met with a small number of Bethany home survivors  in Leinster House. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

On Thursday, Katherine Zappone met with a small number of Bethany home survivors in Leinster House. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

An appeal from survivors of the Bethany Homes religious institution for a “fast track” redress process has been turned down, following a meeting with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.

The Bethany Homes institution in south Dublin was a mother and baby home, mainly for Church of Ireland women.

The latest interim report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, confirmed children in the home were buried in a series of unmarked graves. Burial registers show 240 children were born in or admitted to the home, between 1922 and 1964.

On Thursday, Ms Zappone met with a small number of survivors from the home in Leinster House.

Derek Leinster, a survivor and campaigner who attended the meeting, said the group had petitioned for a “fast track” redress scheme. This would be for elderly survivors, who might not be alive by the time the mother and baby homes commission completed its work, he said.

“I’m coming to the end of the line, there’s five or six others who are in the same place,” Mr Leinster said.

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

In a statement following the meeting, a spokesman for Ms Zappone said the Minister “expressed her deep appreciation and understanding for the advocacy work of the Bethany survivors”.

Ms Zappone accepted an invitation from the Bethany survivors, to visit a memorial to children who died in the home at Mount Jerome Cemetery.

On the issue of a fast-track redress scheme, the spokesman said “the Minister reiterated her commitment to allow the Commission of Investigation to complete its work, with a final report due in February 2020”.

The Government is developing a response to the recommendations of a collaborative forum, which looked at how the health and needs of survivors of mother and baby homes could be best supported.

“A cross Government response continues to be developed to respond to those needs,” a spokesman for the Minister said.

During the meeting, the survivors also petitioned Ms Zappone to reopen the 2002 redress scheme for survivors of residential institutions.

“There was discussion around the 2002 Residential Institutions Redress Scheme and the various calls for it to be re-opened and extended. The decision not to extend the scheme was reviewed by this and previous Governments without change,” a spokesman for Ms Zappone said.