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From Wicklow to Wakefield - a victim of Protestant prejudice and state neglect

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Wednesday July 01, 2009 21:17author by Derek Leinster - Victims of Institutional Protestant Prejudice - VIP(P)author email linster.d at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Derek Leinster survived to become a trade union convener, a father and a grandfather

Protestant abuse victims must also be heard
Irish Times, Wednesday, July 1, 2009

OPINION: Victims of Protestant prejudice and State neglect are at a disadvantage, writes DEREK LEINSTER

YOU DON’T have to be a Catholic to be listened to as a victim of institutional abuse, but it seems to help. That is my experience as a Protestant victim of institutional neglect. Like all sufferers, I am a victim of prejudice.

It was prejudice that forced my mother into the Bethany Home in Orwell Road, Rathgar in 1941 for the “social sin” (as one cleric put it) of being pregnant out of wedlock. To add to her burden, her gestating baby had a Catholic father. Marriage in those circumstances was out, and so was I, fostered out to a dysfunctional family in Wicklow where I was beaten black and blue and (I mention it since it seems to be what Irish people are most interested in) sexually molested.
Derek Leinster, born in a home for 'fallen' Protestant women - click it to read it
Derek Leinster, born in a home for 'fallen' Protestant women - click it to read it

I left school illiterate when I was 13 and Ireland when I was 18, still unable to read or write. Some people escaped Catholic Ireland. I escaped the equally self-contained Protestant version, from Wicklow to Wakefield, in England.

Patsy McGarry wrote all too briefly about my call to include the Bethany Home in the Irish State’s redress scheme, but a lot about abuse being something peculiarly Irish and Catholic (Irish Times, June 20th). I can assure him that just being Irish was reason enough. That and being poor was often sufficient.

One reverend gentleman speaking in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin in December 1945 received reports on that score from the Bethany Home, the Protestant Magdalen Home (yes, there was one) and “the Detective Branch of the Civic Guard”. Unwed pregnancy was spreading beyond the “servant girl type”. Sometimes, “business girls and occasionally university students were victims”.

He should have said “victimised”.

The Bethany Home was set up in 1922, the opening presided over by the Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin. He said the home was “specially intended” for “fallen” women.

Another clergyman involved was the a leading supporter of the Orange Order in Dublin. When not making clever remarks about the pope, the Rev TC Hammond was persecuting fellow clerics for placing candles on church altars.

People like him pursued, as The Irish Times put it in 1964, the “moral welfare and rehabilitation” of Bethany women. The women had overstepped the boundaries of prejudice. Some found an all too fleeting happiness with a member of the opposite religion.

Their illicit offspring paid for it for the rest of their lives. Cast off, cast out, half-caste.

That was me and many others.

I am now old, a proud father and a grandfather. I want justice. Not just for myself but for all the victims of State neglect and religious narrow-mindedness. I will not rest until the lies have been exposed.

I was told that the Irish State did not monitor the Bethany Home. That is a lie. Though, as an excuse for getting off the hook, it takes some beating. It was the reason I took so many.

I forgive my dysfunctional foster father. He no more beat me because he was a Protestant than others were beaten because their tormenters were Catholics. He and his wife should never have been given a foster child.

Those who claimed to know better than the rest should have done better. They are to blame. The Irish State I do not forgive. The Irish people deserve better.

We victims of Protestant prejudice and State neglect are at a disadvantage because we were scattered to the four winds, disconnected from each other and forgotten about. Since my personal story, Hannah’s Shame, was published I have met fellow sufferers. They have medical problems alarmingly similar to mine that stem from early neglect.

I can be contacted through my website, I would like to share experiences with Catholic and Protestant victims. Maybe the Irish media and politicians will get more interested. That is up to them.

We need a bit of Protestant people power to make that happen. Catholics can join in.

I am not prejudiced. My father, who died before I discovered who he was, was a Catholic.

[Derek Leinster became a trade union official and accomplished amateur boxer in England. He is now retired. Hannah’s Shame, and a companion volume, Destiny Unknown, are available via his website,]

See also:

Derek Leinster, The Guardian, Thursday 18 June 2009:

Related Link:

Poor, Protestant and Irish - a victim of institutional abuse - click it to read it
Poor, Protestant and Irish - a victim of institutional abuse - click it to read it

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Press coverage for Derek Leinster's second book     Myles Buchanan    Thu Jul 02, 2009 09:57 
   Heads of Irish Protestant Churches: support putting the Bethany Home into redress scheme     Derek Leinster    Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:06 
   Previous coverage Irish Mail on Sunday by Ken Foxe     Derek Leinster    Sat Jul 11, 2009 18:12 
   Protestant children ignored by inquiry into institutional abuse     Valerie Robinson    Mon Jul 20, 2009 13:24 
   Sexual abuse survivor prepares legal case to have Protestant institutions included in redress scheme     John Downes    Sun Sep 06, 2009 22:25 
   Redress for Magdalen laundry inmates - plus Bethany Home and the Church of Ireland     Derek Leinster    Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:10 
   Batt O"Keefe considering including Bethany Home and Magdalene institutions in redress scheme     Derek Leinster    Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:30 
   Call for memorial to infants who died in Protestant home     Valerie Robinson    Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:37 
   Redress should be for all victims     Derek Leinster    Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:14 
 10   Lead letter Irish Independent - bottom right hand corner Irish Times     Times watch    Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:48 
 11   Redress for Magdalene and Bethany Home victims     Derek Leinster    Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:15 
 12   Congratulations.... eventually     Times Watch    Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:33 
 13   Derek Leinster seeks Bethany survivors in Northern Ireland     Derk Leinster    Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:20 
 14   Derek Leinster interview on BBC 29 April 2010 - letter and review in Church of Ireland Gazette     Derek Leinster    Thu Apr 29, 2010 14:24 
 15   Bethany infants buried in unmarked graves     Derek Leinster    Fri May 21, 2010 08:40 
 16   clerical abuse     kevin flanagan    Sun May 23, 2010 19:55 
 17   common ethos     verger    Mon May 24, 2010 13:08 
 18   Graves discovered - 40 dead Bethany Home babies 1935-36     TC Hammond    Mon May 24, 2010 17:48 

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