Tag Archives: Kevin Higgins

Celebrations two years ago as Galway was declared European Capital of Culture 2020.

The Impresario

His off-white trilby is a confidence trick
to fool the undergarments off
High Court judges’
problem daughters,
though of late it’s stopped conning
anyone except himself.

The glassless brass monocle
he carries about
an opposite eye each day
is as unpretentious
as the collected abstract nouns
of Michael D. Higgins.

His latest round of Irish coffees
is an advance to himself
from the year after next,
which the Arts Council have decided
to know nothing about.

His management skills
are a chair that collapsed
under one of the Sawdoctors,
or was it Mary Coughlan,
being laughed off in a pub
that wouldn’t survive
without its annual subvention
from the Deportment of Kulture.

His eye for publicity
is Kanye West in conversation
with Cathal O’Sharkey.

His sense of himself
is a pair of black shoes,
exquisitely scuffed
and three sizes too big for him.

His man parts are
three historic buildings
next door to each other,
which the City Council
have agreed to pay to have restored
to something like their alleged former glory,
though the start date for this much needed
work has already been put back
several times, and insiders predict
the cost will soar
far above even
the increased budget agreed
at last night’s gathering of the glad hands

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

What Put The Diamonds In Your Owner’s Wife’s Ears?
after Bertolt Brecht

You clean collared columnists
should first help us fix the basic roof-over-head
dilemma, before penning your next sermon.

You shower, who preach careful now
and always know your own exact bank balance,
what is this mature democracy towards which you sweat?
Without a door I can safely lock behind me
to keep your pity at bay, civilisation
doesn’t even begin.

First bring those of us who get by on Supermac’s
each our own mahogany table and a big, silver knife
with which to cut the turkey and ham into manageable slices
(with a vegetarian option for those so afflicted)
and answer us this:

What put the diamonds in your owner’s wife’s ears?
Or the Prince Albert ring in her boyfriend’s willy?
The fact you’re in there polishing phrases
and we’re out here in the undemocratic rain
which everyone – from the Primate of the Church of Ireland
to the Council for the Women of Consequence – agrees
must never be allowed land on you,

this is what keeps pinning diamonds
to your owner’s wife’s sad little lobes,
and puts the ring that winks up at her
in her boyfriend’s knob.

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

Survivor of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam Peter Mulryan on  TV4 documentary Fínne which was broadcast last night

Peter Mulryan is 74.

He lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway for four and a half years before he was adopted out.

He spoke about his experience both at the home and his adopted home for the first time in 70 years when he spoke on The People’s Debate with Vincent Browne in June 2015.

Last night, he was the subject of a TG4 documentary Fínne, presented by RTÉ’s Orla O’Donnell.

In it, Peter recounted the abuse he suffered in his adoptive home, his search for his birth mother, finding her in a magdalene laundry and being prevented, by the laundry’s nuns, from taking her out to her own home.

He also recalled falling in love, getting married, having his own children – and seeing his mother smile for the first time while holding one of his children.

Fínne can be watched back here.

Peter’s first request for information from the State about his family is recorded as having been made in 1963.

Fifty-five years later, he’s trying to find out if a sister of his died at the home or was trafficked out of Ireland as a child.

Meanwhile…

This Saturday.

The IF Documentary Festival in Temple Bar, Dublin will feature a screening of the documentary Mother & Baby by Alice McDowell and Mia Mullarkey of Iska Films which will also feature Peter.

Tuam Home Survivors Network

Thanks Kevin

Poet and satirist Kevin Higgins tweetz:

Morning Star letters page August 18th / 19th. I have arrived.

Read ‘Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Dame’ here

Previously: Kevin Higgins on Broadsheet

Pope Francis (left) will visit Knock Shrine (right) during the Papal visit

What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak

We need to get back
to when confirmed bachelors
found their own kind through holes in cubicles
during untelevised All Ireland Finals.
To when there were no government funded
lesbians on display in public parks,
or self-confessed sodomites in the Senate.
To when there was no obscene use for
Vaseline, or sexual intercourse in Headford.

To when no one put Coke bottles
where they weren’t supposed to go.
And there were no automatic
washing machines for women to sit on
when Rock Hudson was unavailable.
To when the Irish people stood
at the end of lanes waiting
for nothing to happen,
which it mostly did.

To when young ones who forgot to cross
their legs at the crucial moment could be put
steam ironing curtains for the golf club, sheets
and pillowcases for your mother’s B&B;
still be safely there eight o’clock
in the evening having hot flushes
the hottest day of that century
to which we must get back.

Kevin Higgins

Pics: Getty

Jeremy Corbyn (right) ally Peter Willsman (right) reportedly says UK Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal is invented.

What I Told the Psychiatrist
for Pete Willsman

The cat pads downstairs and its claws
take their hate out on me because
he’s been up there re-reading his copy
of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,
which, one of these days, I’ll find
if it kills me, which I expect it will.

Then the wife joins in with an unprovoked
“Are you really wearing that?”
against one of my more
avant-garde jumpers, and I realise
it’s a symptom of her
longstanding admiration for
the architecture of Albert Speer.

And there’s the shop assistant who
by her very body language accuses
me of being a veteran
of Yom Kippur and member
of Israel Military Intelligence,
each time she rings up my
Vichy bottled water.

And those who’ve previously
marched and written against
anti-Semitism but now give
tacit endorsement to the policies
of the General Government of Poland
(nineteen thirty nine to forty five)
by disagreeing with me
about the price of parsnips,
or deciding to support
Leicester City. Worst of all is when

Bank Holiday weekend traffic
gets suddenly constipated, and some
random driver takes his pain out on me
by mouthing horrible words
through his windscreen
because he knows I’m Jewish

even though no one in my family
ever previously was.

Kevin Higgins

Composite via The Sun

From top: A ceremony for the lost children of Tuam on Monday night; The Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway

Lawyer Kevin Higgins currently advises survivors of Mother and baby Homes in developing a “strategy to hopefully achieve some justice”.

Mr Higgins represented 73-year-old Peter Mulryan, chairperson of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network, whose infant sister Marian Bridget Mulryan is believed to be among the 796 children recorded as having died at the Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway between 1925 and 1961.

He also previously said that the Attorney General has the power to order a coroner to hold inquests into the deaths of any remains exhumed at the Tuam site.

Over the past four years researching the Tuam mother and baby home, Mr Higgins has looked at the role of the home’s Chief Medical Officer, from when it opened in 1925 until 1950, Dr Thomas Bodkin Costello, whom Mr Higgins describes as a “local worthy, doctor, enthusiastic antiquarian and by popular acclaim, all-round ‘good egg'”.

Dr Costello was a physician to institutions such as the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Post Office and later the Civic Guard (An Garda Siochana) of the Irish Free State. He was elected President of the Old Tuam Society, a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the National Museum of Ireland has items from his personal collection. He was married to Senator Eileen Costello.

He was also friends with the first president of the Irish Free State and founder of the Gaelic League Douglas Hyde, and poet WB Yeats.

Mr Higgins found, of the 796 death certificates related to Tuam, which say starvation or marasmus is the certified cause of death in 14 cases, only two inquests are recorded – one in 1925 and another in 1928.

He also found there were only three post-mortem examinations – one in 1926, another in 1927 and a third in 1952, with the latter taking place after Dr Costello’s retirement.

Mr Higgins also found there is no evidence of Dr Costello having attended a single birth or death of a child at the home.

In a a heavily-researched piece outlining some of his research, Mr Higgins writes:

Dr Costello belonged to comfortable and deeply conservative Catholic middle class, which redirected Irish Nationalism in the years after 1916.

By the time the Irish Free State came into being, the revolutionaries, poets and dreamers were largely dead or quite literally outlawed and supressed with a ferocity that matched anything British imperialism had inflicted on the Irish populace.

What is chilling however, is Dr Costello’s statement during his time as medical attendant to the Tuam Home in giving his professional opinion, that there was nothing unusual in half of all children dying before the age of five.

From the very beginning the members of the “Local Board” which funded the Tuam Home were every bit as exercised as the Poor Law Guardians of the Workhouse had been about the cost of keeping children barely alive.

The Connacht Tribune report of October 13th 1928 captures the outrage of Board members at the cost of maintaining children in the Home and their almost apoplectic spasm at the cost to the State at keeping them alive until the age of fifteen when ‘boarded out’.

Luckily Dr Costello was available to provide reassurance that the children of the Home would not be such a burden on the public purse. The published report records him telling the members that it was the international norm that half of all children worldwide died before the age of five.

It may have been the case that Dr Costello was a little out of touch or simply complacent that the death rate among the Tuam children was during some periods, merely four or five times that of the national average. Whatever his reasoning, Dr Costello clearly did not have extravagant expectations for the children under his care.

Dr Thomas Bodkin Costello whatever his personal virtues and talents exhibited an appalling degree of indifference in respect of the death toll in the Home, though in fairness to him there is no evidence that there was even a ripple at the level of any office in local or national government at the evidence that children were certified as dying from starvation, or that it led to any intervention.

However, what emerges from even a cursory examination of the 796 Death Certificates for the children of the Home is very worrying. Where the specific causes of death are clustered and attributed to something such as measles they must be regarded as credible. Being highly contagious and at a time when treatment was poor, this is not unduly surprising.

Many of the apologist explanations for the death toll in Tuam point out that babies and infants were accommodated in poor and crowded conditions not uncommon at the time, where illnesses such a whooping cough virus could have been expected to run amok.

The “Home” did not provide for quarantine or isolation but let ‘nature’ take its course. Deaths from whooping cough are recorded at intervals in some small clusters, The incubation period of whooping cough is generally seven to ten days and we can agree that Dr Costello may have then correctly identified it, despite the fact that it occurs without fever or inflammation. There are secondary and third phases, to this historic killer, the last being one of recovery if the patient survives.

What jars is the certification of death on the same day of two young girls both described as four-and-a-half-years old (in an institution where over 79% of children did not survive to one year), almost certainly unvaccinated and having allegedly lingered with whooping cough for eight weeks.

Had they survived, the recuperation period could certainly have taken that time, but they did not and having reached the third stage, they would not have died from it. It may be some consolation to think that both are enjoying retirement in some sunny American state as a result of the child-trafficking business conducted by the Bon Secours, or not.

From the 5 of April 1926 to 30 April 1926 measles is recorded as taking the lives of eighteen children, some undoubtedly because they were unnecessarily exposed to the sickness that killed them. The dreadful practice of allowing children with communicable sicknesses to remain in unsegregated wards continued for decades and undoubtedly caused many further deaths. There is no evidence however to suggest that measles could not have taken such a toll.

What is a little surprising is the length of time Dr Costello appears to state that a child suffered from measles before succumbing to it. It is difficult to accept that a young infant could have fought measles for ten weeks before dying. It simply flies in the face of general medical knowledge.

While it raises another issue, the period which frequently elapsed between the date on which a child was said to have died and the date of registration of their deaths by the local Civil Registrar was well beyond the norm.

This among other factors raises an inference that the signing of Medical Certificates certifying cause of death was often done some considerable time after the fact of death, on information later supplied to Dr Costello, rather than on foot of his attendance and treatment of a child prior to, or at the time of death.

Prior to the examination of the half-yearly Registers, the ‘Local Board’ received no immediate notification of death, even after the enactment of the Registration of Maternity Homes Act 1934, which required it to be done within twenty-four hours.

In any such intervening period of course, the Bon Secours Order was paid a capitation fee for that child, who was deemed to be alive and in the Home. Fraud was the norm rather than the exception. This is transparently the case. Registration and the issue of a Death Certificate are often much later than the date of death. No audit, cross-referencing this documentation with the capitation fees paid to the Bon Secours was ever carried out by the State.

In writing his Medical Certificates certifying cause of death. Dr Costello could dazzle with his Latin terms: cause of death for instance varicella, which to the layman means chickenpox. Again a highly contagious disease in crowded and poor conditions.

Dr Costello however, in certifying it as the cause of one child’s death, seems to suggest that it lasted up to five months, before finally taking its life. It did not.

A child is certified as dying from sub-cutaneous abscesses almost half a century after it was practice to successfully drain such abscesses by means of one of the earlier versions of the Penrose-drain.

One slightly surprising aspect of the Tuam records is the lack of a single reference to polio or poliomyelitis as Dr Costello would undoubtedly have called it. The deplorable and unhygienic conditions endured by children in Tuam might have been a breeding ground for this awful disease. But perhaps it did not register on Dr Costello’s radar.

The first polio vaccine was not introduced to Ireland until 1957 delivered orally to children on a sugar lump. Whether any children of the Tuam home ever received it prior to its closure in 1961 in uncertain, but not a single death is recorded over thirty-six years.

The number of Death Certificates however, in which meningitis is given as either as the cause or contributory factor in a death, suggests that he may not have recognised instances of polio; meningitis frequently being caused by the onset of polio.

The outbreaks of polio in Ireland which are recorded during the period in which the Home operated, did cause significant loss of life (and indeed severe incapacity in later life for those who survived). It is a little surprising that an environment such as Tuam should have escaped.

What is indisputable is that the unfortunate children in the Tuam Home received medical care at a standard well below that received by the general population and even further below that received by those who had the means to purchase decent care. What is also clear is that the causes of death on the alleged Medical Certificates are themselves suspect.

A much favoured explanation of the cause of death by Dr Costello as the Certificates show was debility. It is stated to be the main or contributory cause in the deaths of 193 of the 796 or some 25% of the children registered as dying in the Home.

The figure of 193 is provided by the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee Report of July 16 2014, published in the wake of public concern over revelations about Tuam.

In systematically going through the deaths registered from such a cause it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was little more than a label of convenience used to explain the deaths of so many children.

If we add to the numbers of those certified to have perished from ‘debility’ to those whose deaths are attributed to their being ‘congenital idiots’ and those certified as dying from starvation we arrive at a total of 221 deaths out of recorded 796 deaths.

There will be resentment in some quarters at this unflattering examination of a doctor who was such a significant figure in Tuam and somewhat iconic figure in Irish cultural circles and polite society. It might be said that such an appraisal is made with hindsight, unfairly and without regard to the realities of the time. Not true.

Read Mr Higgins‘ research in full here

Thanks Kevin

Pics: Donal O’Keefe/Wikiemedia

America’s largest immigration processing centre in McAllen, Texas

The Truth Behind The Wire

Kindly disregard the attention seeking cries of the few.
They are child actors being given scripts by liberals.
Most of the young people there are delighted with
what we’re doing. There is no policy
of separation from parents. It’s just
if you’re going to process the mamas
and papas, you’ve gotta take
the bambinos away.
The wire we put around them,
for their own safety, isn’t even barbed.
In there, we help kids go to school;
even give them haircuts
with our giant – and deadly
accurate – Immigration
and Customs Enforcement scissors.

This is the exact opposite of cages.
Despite the headlines,
no one has been gassed.
There are, and never have been,
any concentration camps.
These children are in temporary custody;
playing video games
and soccer; getting two snacks
a day and lots of sleep
under their resplendent thermal blankets.
The chain-link fencing
we’ve used to divide into bedrooms
the building we’re warehousing them in
is entirely incidental.

Almost none of the adolescents in our possession
have, as of yet, been turned
into bespoke hat-stands
and raffled off to the dissatisfied wives
of Texan cattle-hands.

And we have, as of today, no plans
to use the hindquarters of the small ones
to fashion a new face for
Rupert Murdoch.

Kevin Higgins

Pic: US Customs and Border Protection

Don’t Stop Repealing
after Journey

In the interests of the coming equality,
of which everyone is now theoretically
in favour, the mahogany dining tables of Taylors’ Hill
must be immediately confiscated; the wood used
to fashion a makeshift grand piano
for every asylum seeker child in the city.

All marble staircases will be yanked out,
like massive teeth, and delivered
to the nearest band of traveller children
to do with as they wish.

Former Senators, with fully paid-up
Galway Golf Club memberships,
must be auctioned off to buy
T-bone steaks for seasonally unemployed
fish factory hands.

To further redress the class balance,
it will be compulsory
for the Armed Response Unit to legally remove
by shooting as many times as necessary
any auctioneers or Papal Nuncios
seen acting suspiciously outside
the kebab shop.

Property developers of all genders,
races, and sexual orientations who purchase
half finished apartment blocks
for the very heaven of just watching
the price rise, will be taken forcibly

in the back of an obliging HiAce
to the nearest available handball alley,
where they’ll be given fifty strokes
across each cheek
by some mad eejit with a grudge.

Kevin Higgins

Rollingnews

Palestinians run for cover during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 14

Let Me Tell You About Them

The teenagers we shot yesterday
were shot responsibly through the eye
with plain-speaking dum-dum bullets,
manufactured in Fife, or taken down
with SR 25 sniper rifles flown
heroically in from Orange County.
Many of these so-called protestors
specifically arranged to be shot in the back,
just to make us look bad.

The gas canisters our people threw
were entirely rational, and legal,
like the Boer firestorm the kaffirs
brought down on themselves at Sharpeville,
or the best-of-British ambush
that rubbish walked into at Derry.

The one rogue canister which lost
its mind and finished up in a tent
beside an eight month old baby,
who, sadly, also expired, is currently under investigation
and expects to be cleared of all wrong doing,
unlike the baby who we’ve already found guilty.

There is no such thing as Palestinians.
Just some Arabs who used to live here
and think they still do.
The keys they wave in the air
no longer open any doors.
They are a rumour you foolishly believed,
now we’ve moved our eternal capital
to what used to be
their front room.

Kevin Higgins

17-5-2018

Pic: Getty

Yesterday: Dan Boyle: When Calling Out Murder is Anti Semitic