Former residents of the Protestant-run Bethany Home have alleged there was a closer relationship between it and the Church of Ireland than the church is prepared to reveal.

They have publicised a letter written in 1945 by the then Archbishop of Dublin in which he suggested to the Department of Justice that the home should become a place of detention for Protestant females.

In a statement, leader of the Survivors' campaign Derek Linster says he received an e-mail from current Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Dr John Neill saying he had no information about the Bethany Home and that it was ‘only a name’ that he had heard.

Mr Linster says the Archbishop would not allow him to read records of the church's correspondence from the time.

But now the campaign has received a letter from the Department of Justice, written by the then Archbishop, Dr Arthur William Barton, to Gerald Boland, the then Minister for Justice, nominating the Bethany Home as a place of detention for 'Protestant girls on remand'.

The letter is dated 9 April, 1945.

Mr Linster claims there was a closer relationship between the institution and the Church of Ireland than the church is prepared to reveal.

He also says that, while other denominations played a role in running the now-defunct Rathgar home, the Church of Ireland was the dominant influence.

Last month, residents revealed that 219 children died there over three decades in the middle of the last century.

A campaigner for justice, Niall Meehan, discovered their unmarked graves in Dublin's Mount Jerome Cemetery.

The Church of Ireland responded to those revelations saying the home was run by a board of independent trustees.

It has also supported calls for the residents to be compensated by the State's redress scheme for victims of abuse in children's institutions.

The Church of Ireland has issued a statement saying that it has 'made available all records relating to the Bethany Home of which it has knowledge and has furnished copies of minute books for the home to Professor Niall Meehan'.

It added that the Archbishop does not have files of that period nor any records of Bethany Home.

Relating to the letter dated April 1945 the Church of Ireland says this 'confirms that in 1945 the Bethany Home was already subject to Government inspection, was recognised by the Courts as a place of detention and that arrangements involving the home were already in place'.

'This supports claims made by former residents of a formal relationship between State institutions and the home', the statement says.

The Church says it has for some time asked the State to have the Bethany Home brought under the remit of the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

The statement goes on to say that the Church encourages former residents to contact Minister Harney 'to avail of the offer to disclose allegations of abuse to Government officials and to bring all information in their possession to the Government's attention'.