The committee set up to examine the Irish government’s role with the notorious Magdalene laundries has recently been asked to include the Bethany Home in their inquiry.
The home was for unwed mothers and their children, and survivors say the abuse there was just as bad as in the laundries.
In an appeal to have the home looked into, Arlene Foster wrote the following to Senator Martin McAleese in hopes that he would spread the word to the government: “It would be wrong if these residents were not afforded the same investigation as those who formerly lived in the Magdalene laundries.”
The Protestant Bethany home was based in Rathgar between 1921 and 1972. Although there were health inspections, the home ran for over 50 years, and recently there was a discovery of unmarked infant graves in a cemetery nearby nearby, indicating the level of abuse and poor care for the new babies. Currently, there are between 25-30 known survivors, both the children of the mothers and the unwed mothers themselves.
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According to the Irish Times, Niall Meehan, representative of the Bethany Survivor’s Group, said that there was “no doubt in his mind” that if the Bethany Home was not included in the state inquiry, that would “constitute discrimination on behalf of the state towards a Protestant minority,” since the home was Protestant-run. Such discrimination is a direct violation of Article 44.3 in the Constitution.
“The State had an irrefutable duty of care which they fell down on,” Meehan claimed. He also said that the state lied in both cases regarding its culpability in sending young women there.
Senator David Norris has also acknowledged the strong similarities between the two homes with, “[Bethany Home is] exactly analogous to that of the Magdalene laundries.”
By including the Bethany Home, the state would have more information regarding the abuses that took place in such institutions. Despite the pleas, however, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said that there is no plan to include the Bethany Home in the inquiry.