SURVIVORS of Protestant mother and baby homes want the Government to give them same treatment as those born into Catholic run institutions before it's too late.
Survivor Colm Begley was born in the Bethany mother and baby home to a single mother in 1966 and was moved to the Westbank Orphanage in Greystones before his first birthday. He stayed there until he turned 18.
"We want the Government to realise that we suffered just as much as those in Catholic homes and we don't deserve to be left on the back step any longer," Mr Begley told the Herald.
The 48-year-old recalled the dire conditions of his upbringing in the orphanage: "We were starving constantly; we used to steal frozen bread to eat just to survive. We were regularly beaten with electric flexes," he said. "Westbank was like a cult, nobody from the outside was allowed in."
The Taoiseach pledged this month to include the Bethany Home in Rathgar in any future State inquiry into mother and baby homes but survivors say this is not enough.
The group met with Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan yesterday to ask him to include Protestant-run homes, other than the Bethany Home, in the proposed inquiry into the treatment of women and children in the care of religious institutions. The campaigners also want the Redress Scheme, established in 2002, to be re-opened to allow survivors to access State compensation for their abuse in homes run by Protestant churches.
Homes highlighted included the Church of Magdalen Home on Leeson Street, the Westbank Orphanage in Greystones and Ovoca House in Wicklow.
Niall Meehan of the Bethany Survivors campaign group told the Herald that time was of the essence.
"We don't want an inquiry that lasts for years. If it goes on for long enough there will be no survivors left and the Government will never have the opportunity to apologise to them," said Mr Meehan.
"We want the Government to end the exclusion of Protestant homes."