Letters to the Editor

Arbitrary decision needs to be explained to Bethany survivors

The Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation has produced a widely welcomed report on burials in or associated with mother and baby institutions. It has discovered, in the case of Dublin’s Protestant ethos Bethany Home, an additional 28 children, 24 of whom died in hospital. Bethany survivors would like the commission to release the names of these children, plus date and age of death. Their names may then be inscribed on the Mount Jerome Cemetery, Bethany Home monument.

Unfortunately, the commission’s calculation of the total number of  Bethany burials is wrong. Bethany survivors identified 310, including 17 unnamed children. The commission calculates 260, including 20 unnamed. The discrepancy arises because the commission report states, “The Commission is not including children who had been in the institutions and who died after they were placed at nurse or boarded out”. This decision affects Bethany Home in particular, which had a practice of sending children out temporarily. 71 such children, whose names were supplied to the Commission in 2018 by Derek Leinster, are excluded.
Bethany survivors regard these children as Bethany victims and inscribed their names on the Bethany Monument in June 2018.

Archival evidence, submitted to the Commission in 2015, demonstrates that an inspector for the Department of Local government and Public Health regarded ill-treatment of nursed out children as the fault of Bethany Home. She noted that a child in the care of one nurse mother had died previously, who was currently ill-treating another child. She commented on another badly treated child, sent out by Bethany home in that condition, who continued to be neglected by its nurse mother.

The Deputy Chief Medical advisor, Dr Winslow Sterling Berry, entered Bethany Home at least three times in 1939. He also regarded 19 children then with nurse mothers (paid 30 shillings a month) as Bethany’s responsibility. He justified Bethany Home’s high mortality rate by stating, “it is well recognised that a large number of illegitimate children are delicate and marasmic [starving] from their birth”.

The commission report excludes from its calculations the dead child noted above. It excludes also a child who crawled into a pot of boiling gruel. The commission needs to explain its arbitrary decision to Bethany survivors. Minister Katherine Zappone needs also to intervene to help reverse what appears to be a perverse and also a callous decision.

Griffith College, Dublin


Novel idea also gives a coherent answer to the problem of evil in world

At some point far beyond history, the first human hearts turned in upon themselves. God is rejected. Love is hated. His [God’s] dream imploded. Also, at the beginning there was something that scientists call a ‘singularity’, a tiny point characterised by infinite density and temperature. Thus the big bang is the event at which this singularity exploded, creating space and time”. 

Putting these two points together brings us to the idea of a transcendental fall (that the outworking of Original Sin, in Eden, actually resulted in the historic reformation, in space/time, of our flawed universe. This novel idea also gives a coherent answer to “The problem of Evil” in the world, eg why all inanimate matter is flawed, with animate forms suffering pain and death and why this vale of tears is more akin to the Garden of Gethsemane than the Garden of Eden. This novel idea (novel only in that it puts Original Sin and the fall before the creation of the world) illuminates some aspects of scripture and Church teaching – and also provides the symmetry that seems to characterise all God’s actions. The following seven point summary puts the redemptive work of Jesus at its centre. It also allows for both a transcendental beginning and end. Whereas the Church teaches that men and matter have a finite beginning, with an infinite (or transcendental) destiny:

n The Fall – man disobeys God and chooses to know both good and evil 

n God’s judgment – humanity exiled from Eden

n Creation of the world – the big bang – evolution –some energy becomes matter, including animate matter (E=MC2), with each individual person created through and evolutionary (as opposed to a transcendental) process. However each individual person is the result of an unchanging thought in God –  with each of us eternally known, loved and wanted by God

n Redemption – the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God

n End of the world – a cosmic upheaval, (probably another big bang with all matter reverting to energy), followed by the general resurrection

n God’s judgment – the “day of judgment when all men will appear in their own bodies before Christ’s tribunal to render an account of their own deeds” (CC 1059)

n Eden restored – “The kingdom of God will come in its fullness. The just will reign with Christ forever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28) in eternal life”. (CC 1060).

Belfast BT9


Let’s hope politicians find moral courage to carry out duties

I was very moved by Fr Magill’s comments targeted at politicians at Lyra’s funeral last Wednesday.

These words were appropriately directed to our local politicians who, in my view, have, in the area of reconciliation and joint working, been inert in the last 27 months.

It is my fervent prayer that Lyra’s death and Fr Magill’s highly apposite comments will provoke them into resolute and determined efforts to restore local institutions and ensure that the men and women of violence will be further isolated.

Fr Magill’s courageous comments have been widely promulgated by the media.

Let us hope that we can continue to keep the pressure on our politicians to do what is right for the safety, welfare and security of all the people of Northern Ireland.

It must be our earnest prayer that politicians will find the moral courage and leadership to carry out their duties in this regard.

We will keep Lyra’s partner, family and friends in our prayers.

Belfast BT7


To use your vote is a privilege 

Some years ago an old uncle shared these wise words with me about the door-step election canvassers.

There are a lot of things to think about when someone asks you to vote for them in the potential elections to come this year.

What has their party or they themselves been active on since the previous election? What is their reasoning for standing for an election – ego, civil commitment?
Does their policy or views reflect your issues both civil or political?
Does the candidate portray a sense that they are committed to doing a good job for us, or are they just someone with too much time on their hands?

To use your vote is a privilege. Choose your councillor, MLA, MP in the future wisely.

Ballycastle, Co Antrim

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