Wednesday, 10 July 2019
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Residential Institutions Redress Scheme
At their request, I have held a number of meetings with former residents of Bethany Home and their advocates in recent weeks. I welcomed the opportunity to engage and listen to the experiences and frustrations of those in attendance.
I was delighted to accept an invitation to visit the memorial in Mount Jerome Cemetery to the children who died in the Bethany Home.
One of the key issues raised by Bethany survivors is their desire for immediate access to a fast tracked financial redress scheme for the benefit of Bethany Home survivors.
At the meetings, there was discussion around the 2002 Residential Institutions Redress Scheme and the various calls for it to be re-opened and extended. I explained that the decision not to extend the Scheme has been reviewed by this and previous Governments without change.
I understand the disappointment and anger regarding this decision.
Bethany Home was one of the first institutions identified for inclusion when the scope of the investigation by the Commission of Investigation was being decided and its specific terms of reference were informed by concerns in relation to the care and welfare of children in this institution.
Given that these specific matters have not been central to any previous inquiry, it is not feasible at this interim stage in the Commission's work, to pre-empt its findings and recommendations. Its final report is due to be completed by February 2020.
In the interim I am committed to on-going engagement with former residents of these institutions. I have engaged with the community of former residents, their families and advocates on this issue and I established the Collaborative Forum. Bethany Home survivors are represented in the membership of the Forum. The recommendations of the Forum have recently been published and Government has committed to advancing a number of measures in response to identified issues of concern.