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Should Unclaimed Bodies Pass To Anatomy Departments

American-born feminist, theologian and independent politician, Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children, referred in the Dáil yesterday to the 474 “unclaimed infant remains” which were transferred from mother-and-baby homes and related institutions, to medical schools in Irish Universities. Same were transferred into the anatomy departments of Irish medical colleges here in Ireland right up to the mid 1960’s.

The Minister stated she wished to offer solidarity and a personal apology for the wrongs that were done to those affected.

‘Resurrectionists’ on the ‘Graveyard Shift.’

While apologies and offers of solidarity are all very well, one must ask the questions:
(1) Were there any laws broken when such transfers of unclaimed infant remains were transferred from these homes to Irish Universities?
(2) Do we now need to change or update existing law with regard to such matters?

In 2017 we must consider ourselves as living in more enlightened times. We learn that today, Friday 10th March 2017, that what is described as a highly original and thought-provoking exhibition of human anatomy will come to Dublin for a limited time only. Yes it is the ‘Human Body Exhibition’, which also features the bodies of genuine humans. The specimens featured were donated in accordance with Chinese law to the Dalian Hoffen Biotechnique Laboratory, which conducts research into plastination and provides specimens to medical schools.

This exhibition the purpose of which we are told is to further educate, is expected to run for six months and the promotions company founded by Eamonn McCann and Denis Desmond (MCD), have sent invitations to medical schools and primary and second-level students. Tickets however are priced at €14 for adults and €8 for children.

This exhibit has indeed attracted criticism since it is not possible to attest as to whether any of the specimens voluntarily donated their bodies, or whether they are instead the misappropriated remains of executed Chinese political prisoners, latter who had not given their consent to have their bodies shown, following their execution.

Should the Irish people at this time be upset by the arrival of this “highly original and thought-provoking exhibition of human anatomy”, in light of the 474 “unclaimed infant remains” similarly transferred from mother-and-baby homes to Irish medical schools between 1940 and 1965 ?

Prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts who were often guilty of harsher crimes. However those sentenced by Courts did not provide enough subjects for medical schools / private anatomical schools. During the 18th century hundreds had been executed for what we regard today as trivial crimes, however by the 19th century only about 55 people were being sentenced to capital punishment on an annual basis.

As many as 500 dead bodies were needed annually due to the expansion of the medical schools. Interfering with graves was not a felony, rather a misdemeanour in common law and therefore only punishable with imprisonment and a fine, instead of transportation or execution. Thus the trade of Body Snatching became a sufficiently lucrative business with the authorities tending to ignore what they considered a necessary evil.

The business of ‘Body Snatching’ became so prevalent that it became necessary for relatives and friends of deceased persons to watch over bodies until burial, and then to keep watch over the very grave itself to halt violations. Mortsafes, (a framework of iron bars placed over grave sites) and Iron Coffins, where affordable, had to be used frequently.

Graves were dug quite shallow and ‘Body Snatchers’ or ‘Resurrectionists’, as they were known, would dig at the head end (West) of a recent burial, using wooden spade (quieter than metal implements). On reaching the coffin, they broke the side open before placing a rope around the corpse and dragged it out. Stealing jewellery or clothing would cause them to be liable to a felony charge, so in many cases they were careful not to steal either.

Resurrectionists were also known to hire women to act as grieving relatives and claim the bodies of the dead from within poorhouses. Often poorhouses received a small fee from undertakers, or resold the bodies (especially those with no family) to doctors. Women also attended funerals acting as grieving mourners to ascertain any future hardships these Body Snatchers might later encounter during disinterment. Even bribed servants would sometimes offer body snatchers access to their dead master or mistress lying in state; the removed body would be later replaced with suitable weights in closed coffins.

Remember in more recent times the huge furore over Irish human tissue banks and the  removal of organs retained for further examination and sometimes subsequently used for educational and research purposes, dealt with by the Dr. Deirdre Madden Report on Post Mortem Practises & Procedures.

Enough with the apologies and offers of solidarity; our legislators now need to sit down and ask the question: “Do we now need to change or update existing law with regard to such matters?”  We as a nation can no longer afford the costs of day after day public enquiries, followed by the inevitable compensation claims in an attempt to remove our guilt, especially with regard to matters of Church and State, and which once were seen as being morally quite acceptably, by Irish Society, all those decades ago.

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Mother & Baby Homes Commission Of Investigation

It was confirmed on March 3rd 2017 that the skeletal remains of baby’s, infants and toddlers, which lay unknown and in many cases forgotten for decades, have been finally uncovered on the site of a Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.

The official website for the Mother and Baby Homes Investigation can be found HERE

Those involved in the investigation, on behalf of the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes have stated that a significant number of children’s remains, dating back to the years during which time the home remained operational, have been located. Some infants are thought to have passed on from debility suffered at birth, while others succumbed to respiratory infection and premature birth.

It is understood that these young infant victims could have also died in a number of cases from influenza, while measles and chickenpox could have contributed to death in others.  Just a small number of deaths were possibly attributed to malnutrition, while health issues; trivial in today’s world, such as ear infections, skin diseases, and whooping cough also contributed; as did meningitis, gastroenteritis, convulsions, congenital heart disease and congenital syphilis.

Certainly tuberculous bacillus (TB) was rampant during this period, with children making up more than half of the victims. This highly infectious disease thrived in crowded situations and in poorly ventilated buildings even in the country. It was not until the 1950’s that TB began to decline and by the 1970’s it had almost completely vanished from our shores.

Surely it must be observed as somewhat strange (or perhaps even hypocritical), that on reading this sad and most disturbing news, so many of the commentators on the Tuam babies scandal who remain rightly concerned about a respectful burial for these human remains; same also want to remove the existing constitutional protection and the right to life, from their modern day colleagues with fatal foetal anomalies, or limited prospects of a full life-span, or conceived as a result of rape or incest. Remember the report of the official Commission of Investigation mentions that the sample of remains that they examined range from 35 foetal weeks to 2-3 years, which would seemingly include still-born and perinatal infants.

While we remain arguing over what road we should take with regard to our future unborn children, we, over recent years, have shown similarly total disregard for those vulnerable and let’s admit that in today’s Ireland we can no longer place blame on the ‘Great Famine’, the Church and the Nuns.

Following the closing of the home in 1961, all records then held were handed over to Galway County Council. Were Galway County Council not aware of the burial grounds before any planning permissions for housing were granted in that immediate area?

Following the painstaking research undertaken by historian M/s Catherine Corless, the names of some 796 children who died in the Tuam institution between the years 1925 and 1960 inclusive, can be found hereunder.

Continue reading Mother & Baby Homes Commission Of Investigation

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Repealing The Eighth Amendment

“It’s just one man’s opinion, but it’s my opinion and I reserve the right, above all others, to hold that opinion.”

The movement to ‘Repeal the Eighth Amendment’ is certainly gathering momentum, and various categories of unborn babies are facing an increasing prospect of being legally aborted within Ireland. The law already allows the abortion of the children of suicidal mothers (subject to certification by three professionals that the case comes within the parameters of the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act 2013), and the danger of abortion is extended by the same Act to children of mothers whose lives are in danger from the pregnancy in the opinion of two professionals in ordinary cases, or just one in emergency cases.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy Chairperson of the 100-member convention taxed with considering issues including the Eighth Amendment.

The protagonists of the ‘Repeal’ campaign aim to further extend legal abortion in Ireland to other tragic cases, for example, unborn children suffering from a fatal foetal anomaly, anencephaly, various chromosomal or genetic anomalies, and to children conceived through rape or incest. Other ‘Repealers’, depending on the extent of their liberalism, would extend a right of abortion to the mothers of any or all children regarded by their mothers as flawed, unhealthy, unwanted or inconvenient.

It is argued by the protagonists of the ‘Repeal the Eighth’ that this repeal will free the legislators from the restrictions of the Eighth Amendment and enable them to enact laws to cater for these needy cases. But the question remains ‘will it’?

Where do lawmakers get their authority to enact laws anyway? Most people and most democratic constitutions would say that the power of the legislature to make laws comes to them from the people. But are there limits to the powers the people may grant to the legislature? The theory of parliamentary supremacy (or “legal positivism”) would hold that there is no limitation on the laws Parliament may enact. As Sir Leslie Stephen explained in this theory in his book ‘The Science of Ethics’: “If a legislature decided that all blue-eyed babies should be murdered, the preservation of blue-eyed babies would be illegal”.

But differently from many other constitutions, the Irish Constitution in Article 6 says that “All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people…”.  These words “under God” were deliberately added to ensure that the Irish constitution would not be guilty of the absurdity to which the theory of absolute parliamentary supremacy leads. The Dáil is not omnipotent, but is subject to the law of God.

The awkward fact for atheists, agnostics, the lapsed, and those in the Dáil who haven’t read article 6 of the Irish Constitution, is that those who did write it and the majority who enacted it in 1937, mostly believed in God, and gave the Dáil no power to enact laws which are contrary to the law of God. When God said “Thou shalt not kill”, the consequence of Article 6 is that no TD, no Seanadóir, no Judge, no Doctor shall kill or authorise the killing of any innocent unborn child.

So, surely before they repeal the eighth Amendment (or Article 40, s.3, 3° which it inserted into the Constitution), abortion advocates need to surely repeal or amend Article 6, and also perhaps paganise or at least de-Christianise that Preamble to Bunreacht na hÉireann whose first words are “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority…”.

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Tipperary Wind Farm – V – EU Court Of Justice

Tipperary Wind Farm Planning Decision Referred To Europe By Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, having considered a challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for an electricity generating wind farm in Co Tipperary, have ruled that this case does raise issues of public importance.

The initial challenge refers to a ten year permission, granted by An Bord Pleanála, to ESB Wind Development and Coillte; to construct a wind farm in the area of Keeper Hill in the Silvermines Mountains in Co Tipperary.

Hen Harrier (Picture courtesy Mr Shay Connolly, Bird Watch Ireland)

The Supreme Court applicants had claimed that the permission granted breached EU Habitats and Environment Impact Assessment Directives and would contribute to the loss of some 400 acres of foraging for Hen Harrier, if and when this same wind farm was progressed.

Previously the High Court had dismissed the case of M/s Edel Grace of Grousehall Milestone, Thurles, Co Tipperary and Environmental Consultant Mr Peter Sweetman of Bunnahowen, Cashel, Co Galway, in their action.

The Supreme Court however now want the EU (CJEU) Court of Justice to determine European law issues, before ruling whether An Bord Pleanála properly assessed the impact of this Co. Tipperary wind farm on the habitat of these hen harriers, latter a protected species under EU law.

The important joint Supreme Court judgement on Friday last, before a seven-judge Supreme Court which included Mr Justice Frank Clarke and Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley, concluded that M/s Grace did have standing in her appeal. The fact that she had not participated in the planning process and resided less than one kilometre from the special protection area (SPA), did not deprive her of standing.  The Supreme Court therefore agreed to refer certain issues to the CJEU concerning the procedure adopted by An Bord Pleanála. These precise issues have as yet not been described, but same are expected to be set out later.

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals”. [George Orwell, Animal Farm.]

What now makes the European Court challenge by M/s Edel Grace, Grousehall, Milestone, Thurles, Co Tipperary so important?

Should a wind turbine be installed on the ‘Stiletto in the Ghetto’, in O’Connell Street, Dublin, to further improve renewable energy sources?

Some 32 farmers in Co. Tipperary availed of payments last year for their involvement in taking the necessary measures to protect the endangered Hen Harrier bird species; known romantically as “Sky Dancers” because of their skilled and elaborate aerial displays. 

During the last five years well over €10m in funding was paid out to farmers in the form of compensation payments. Indeed it was a farmer in Co. Tipperary who received the single largest payment (€14,594) for the granting of this special protection. But an even bigger scandal is recognised when the latest Hen Harrier population figures are released.

Same figures indicate that there reside only an average of about 125 breeding Hen Harrier pairs left in Ireland. This figure registers a decline of over 33% since 2000 or a decline of almost 9% in 2016, despite the birds having being offered paid special protection since 2010. (Imagine what Focus Ireland could have achieved with this €10m funding, equal to over €8,000.00 per breeding bird pair over this same 5 year period).

What also makes this European challenge by M/s Edel Grace therefore important is not necessarily the wanton destruction by An Bord Pleanála to beautiful rural Tipperary landscapes; but rather that wind farms in rural areas are now being granted planning permission in EU funded Hen Harrier breeding areas, supposedly set up and funded to offer protection.  This so called EU protection, together with the burning of moorland is recognised as being the root cause; seriously effecting the Irish Hen Harrier population through the removal of natural breeding habitats and naturally occurring mammal feeding grounds.

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What Would It Cost Our Government?

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” Proverbs 28:27.

During the current year, 2016, we celebrated the one hundred year of our struggle for Irish independence, with at least some €22 million, minimum, in taxpayer funding, spent in various ways, but mainly in the areas, both in and around, Sackville Street, today better known as O’Connell Street; Dublin’s main thoroughfare.

rough-sleeperTravelling through Dublin in recent weeks, one could not help but notice the number of homeless people begging and sleeping rough in the streets of this same city. By sleeping rough I mean men and women of all ages sleeping or bedded down in the freezing open air, seeking refuge in filthy doorways, parks and bus shelters; people sleeping in buildings or other places not designed for human habitation e.g. car parks, living what now appears to be the socially acceptable “Plastic Bag” and “Wet Cardboard” lifestyle.

A headcount taken in our Capital’s city centre area recently found 168 people were sleeping rough with this figure not including some 60 people sharing a floor in the Merchant’s Quay Night Cafe and an unknown number of persons bedded down, hidden from immediate sight in the 1752 acres of the Phoenix Park, latter containing ‘Áras an Uachtaráin’, the residence currently occupied by the head of State and President of our ‘Emerald Green Island’.

Now towards the end of 2016, following our 100 year commemorations / celebrations; call them what you will; it would appear our current minority Fine Gael government have failed dismally to adhere to the very ideals of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. Where now in 2016 are spoken the words of Collins; quote; “For the future, we must not have the destitution of poverty at one end, and at the other, an excess of riches”?

So also our rapidly diminishing so called Irish Labour Party, which propped up the outgoing Fine Gael government over the previous 5 years. They too, in their greed for power, have overlooked the accurate prophesy in the words spoken by their once executed associate James Connolly, quote: “If you remove the English army tomorrow, unless you set about the organisation of a Socialist Republic, she will still continue to rule you through her Capitalists, through her Landlords, through her Financiers.

Current statements like “no person will be on the streets unless they want to be” are no longer acceptable from those who were elected to rule over us. When will the practice of allowing those refusing shelter; sleeping on mattresses of wet cardboard; wrapped in discarded plastic bags, cease?  I say this in the knowledge of the problems within homeless shelters, due to individuals having complex drink and drug related struggles.  Accept it; people lying in doorways do not feel safe in sheltered accommodation, while forced to sleep, wearing footwear on their feet; in the sure and certain knowledge if they do not, their shoes, together with other meagre possessions, will be stolen by morning.

What would it cost our government, (who knowingly amongst other unnecessary spending, used an estimated €27 million of taxpayers money, on a postal code system, namely Eircode, which possibly will never be wholly used), to provide one warm coat, a pair of stout shoes and a one-person tent that can be compressed into a portable bag (See picture above), to a mere couple of hundred rough sleepers at most?

If we see ourselves as Christians, surly it is time to examine and act immediately on the urgent and very basic needs of a few people who, for whatever reason, choose to sleep rough in conditions, (dare I say unfit for an animal), exposing themselves to the current freezing winter conditions, being experienced over recent weeks, on the streets of our cities.

“Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”  – St. Luke 12:15

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