A LEADING campaigner for survivors of mother and baby homes has called for a “fast-track” scheme to compensate victims of the brutal institutions.
Derek Leinster, who was born in the Protestant-run Bethany Home, said the Irish Government must not delay the redress of survivors until its inquiries into the brutal institutions are completed.
“There has to be two waves to this. The first one should be about survivors, full stop, giving them the compensation they deserve and releasing their records,” said Mr Leinster, who lives in the Warwickshire town of Rugby.
“That has to be the priority. All of the other factors, the recording of what happened and the lessons learned, could take years and should be in a second wave.”
The 72-year-old added: “If Enda Kenny doesn’t do it that way, the majority of Survivors will not be here to receive justice. They will be dead. And that includes me.”
Despite his stark warning, Charlie Flanagan, Ireland’s Children’s Minister, appeared to pour cold water over Mr Leinster’s proposals, saying it was “far too early” to talk about compensation.
Mr Leinster admitted the Government would not have enough information to compensate all mother and baby home survivors before it has held full inquiries.
But he claimed many people could easily prove that they deserve redress already.
“I could fill the boot of a car with documents showing how I suffered in the Bethany Home,” he explained.
“For example, they would show how British medical experts told me that to be in the state I was in when I was taken to hospital from that institution, I would have to have been abandoned and left on a manure heap.”
He added: “Survivors that can prove their case now should be dealt with in a fast track way. Those who cannot yet prove how they suffered should get their documents so they can do so.”
Following two decades of intense campaigning, Mr Leinster achieved a major victory earlier this year when he unveiled a memorial to the 222 children who died in the Bethany Home.
Unlike many similar institutions for unmarried mothers that have been highlighted following the discovery of 800 dead babies at a mother and baby home in Tuam, Galway, the Bethany Home on Dublin’s Orwell Road was run by Protestant organisations.
Despite welcoming the “great news” that the Bethany Home will be included in the Irish Government’s inquiry into the mother and baby homes, Mr Leinster said years of being ignored by TDs meant he would remain “wary” until the inquiry was completed.
Children’s Minister Charlie Flanagan announced yesterday that the Rathgar institution would be included as part of a Commission of Investigation into the homes.
“I am conscious of grievance on the part of people who were directly associated with Bethany Homes and I am anxious that the scope of the inquiry would be beyond Tuam and County Galway,” he said.
“I would include all mother and baby homes with specific reference to the Bethany,”
The Fine Gael TD explained that the inquiry would examine all practices, procedures and behaviours in mother and baby homes throughout the State in order to discover “the truth of this very dark period in our history”.
But it is “far too early” to talk about the possibility of compensation for those affected, he added.