Dublin People

Bethany Home campaigner Derek Leinster has died

Derek Leinster, pictured at an annual remembrance at Mount Jerome cemetery for children who lost their lives at the home

Tributes have been paid to Bethany Home campaigner Derek Leinster who has died at his home in Rugby in Warwickshire at the age of 81.

Mr Leinster, who was born in Bethany Home in Rathfarnham in 1941, was chairman of the Bethany Homes Survivors’ Group which he founded in 1998.

He had gone on record many times over the past 20 years to share the horrifying story about Bethany Home where children died of malnutrition, heart failure and disease and how the unmarked graves of more than 300 children were discovered in Mount Jerome cemetery.

A memorial stone for children who died at Bethany Home was erected in 2014 at Mount Jerome Cemetery, following years of work by Derek.

He campaigned for the inclusion of Bethany home, and other protestant institutions, in State inquiries and redress schemes and he wanted survivors of Protestant institutions to receive the same redress that was granted to survivors of industrial school abuse under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002.

In a statement his family said:

“Derek fought a tireless battle for many years to gain justice for the mistreatment of babies born into the Bethany mother and baby home, Dublin – A case that was so very important to him.

“He was a remarkable and incredibly determined man who never surrendered on his fight until the very end.

“We take comfort in knowing he is now at peace with our beloved and dearly missed mum, Carol.”

Mr Leinster lodged legal proceedings against the Irish State, the Minister for Children and the Attorney General in September 2021.

That same year he blasted a Consultation Process on the development of a ‘Restorative Recognition Scheme’ for survivors of Mother and Baby Homes as a “gimmick.”

Speaking to Southside People in April 2021, he explained why he had refused to take part in the latest process.

“Once I had time to think about it I came to the conclusion that it is just another gimmick from the Minister to waste more time,” Derek said.

“They want to make sure that there will be no living Bethany Home Survivors alive to see justice or redress and they want us to help them do it.

“I cannot be part of this madness.

“I did not go along with any of Minister Zappone’s stunts either.

“If Minister O’Gorman was serious this would all have been ready sorted out when the Mother and Baby Commision Report came out on January 12 2021.

“We need a fast track to get redress now, no more gimmicks!

“We are still fighting the good fight and are making progress.

“We are just looking for what other people got during the 2002 redress in terms of compensation for survivors of mother-and-baby homes.

“Everyone knows survivors of Bethany Home should have been included.

“There aren’t many Bethany Home survivors left still living to make a case.

“The longer this drags on then the better chance there is that everyone will be gone.

“We have to stop the State thinking that we are up for their games.

“For me the games are long over, I will not be part of any of their games anymore.”

He is survived by his four daughters, Deborah, Amanda, Gail and Kerry, and pre-deceased by his wife, Carol.

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