21 June 2010

by Cllr Joe Costello

Speaking at the launch of the Bethany Survivors Group in Mount Jerome Cemetery today, Deputy Joe Costello said it was a poignant moment to stand at the site where 40 children who died in Bethany Home – 27 of them in 1935 – lie in a mass unmarked grave.

The neglect and mistreatment of children has been the greatest stain on the reputation of this country.

The track record of Church and State has been atrocious.

Reformatories, industrial schools, Magdalene Homes and religious institutions have all failed the children of the nation.  Even now the HSE is unable or unwilling to provide the Minister for Children with the number of children who died in HSE care over the last 10 years.

It is our duty as legislators to introduce a Constitutional amendment urgently so that a proper framework can be put in place for child protection into the future.

Secondly, we must ensure that Bethany Home is included in the Residential Redress Scheme so that the survivors can tell their story and obtain some financial redress.

Thirdly, it is important that this unmarked grave of 40 children receive a fitting memorial, that the work continue to bring to light and to public awareness what happened in Bethany Home and to find out, in particular, if there are more unmarked graves such as those before us.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the small group of Bethany Home residents who are with us today.  The establishment of the new Bethany Survivors Group will help the survivors in their campaign for justice.

I pledge to do whatever I can to help.