herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

Dad who lost twin sons slams 'thoughtless and horrible' coffin protest

Protesters held a pro-life rally outside Holles Street
Protesters held a pro-life rally outside Holles Street

A father whose twin sons died following their premature birth has described the use of baby-sized coffins for a protest outside a Dublin maternity hospital as "horrible and thoughtless".

Last Saturday, protesters held a pro-life rally outside Holles Street Maternity Hospital and have said they plan to continue with their protests.

The group placed three baby-sized white coffins on the ground, which led to a widespread backlash, with Health Minister Simon Harris describing it as "grossly insensitive".

Damien Basquill's infant twins Fiachra and Eanna died following their premature birth two weeks ago.

Emotional

He described the form of protest at Holles Street as "the most horrible, thoughtless thing I've ever heard".

In an emotional interview on RTE's Liveline programme, Mr Basquill told Katie Hannon that his wife Kathleen gave birth to the twins only a fortnight ago.

"We found out in January that my wife was pregnant," Mr Basquill said.

"We were pretty petrified and delighted at the same time. Everything was going brilliant, everything was going great.

"Then just about two weeks ago she felt uncomfortable."

His wife was first taken to the out-patient unit at Castlebar Hospital before later being transferred by ambulance to the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital.

Their sons were born that night and later taken to incubators in the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU).

"The next morning we called down as often as we could to the ICU. Things were going as good as they could be," Mr Basquill said.

However, his baby boy Eanna developed a bleed to his brain and died that Saturday.

Mr Basquill described how the next few days passed and their son Fiachra was beginning to thrive, before his condition deteriorated.

"He fought as best as he could but passed away on the Sunday," Mr Basquill told Liveline.

The family took their twin boys home with them on the Monday, and held a funeral for them the following day.

Mr Basquill went on to tell the programme that the people who decided to place the white baby coffins outside the hospital in protest "never had to carry their own babies out of a hospital".

"I'd just love to know, I want to hear the why, the justification for this protest," he said.

"'Do you know what would be a great idea for this protest? We're going to get three coffins and just throw them there on the footpath'.

"It's cold as ice, the most horrible, thoughtless thing I've ever heard.

Justify

"Whoever made the decision to do that, I'd love to hear them justify it because they've never been in this situation.

"They've never had to carry their babies out of a hospital in a little white box. They've never had to do it."

He added that, for people who had to carry their own children out of a hospital foll- owing a death, the white coffin represented "their family, that was their baby, that was a future communion".

"In our case Kathleen had been buying bits and bobs. We were so looking forward to it, we were counting down the days to late September and early October," Mr Basquill said.

The organisers of the protest, who call themselves Our Lady of Lourdes Protectors, have said they will keep on holding protests outside maternity hospitals and continue to use small coffins.

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