1,000 MARCH TO SAVE THE NAME

Hos­pi­tal cam­paign ‘just be­gin­ning’

Drogheda Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By HU­BERT MUR­PHY

AROUND 1,000 protesters (pic­tured) took to the streets of Drogheda to de­mand that the lo­cal Our Lady of Lour­des Hos­pi­tal re­tain its name.

There are plans to get rid of the ti­tle, but the move is likely to spark even greater anger in the com­ing weeks as hun­dreds of marchers voiced their op­po­si­tion.

‘ This is just the be­gin­ning,’ Bob McGuf­fin from the or­gan­is­ing group said. ‘We have to thank ev­ery­one who came out. It was won­der­ful.’

THERE is some­thing truly sym­bolic about mass protest - when peo­ple feel their voices are not be­ing heard and when they are thrown to one side. Last Sun­day af­ter­noon, the peo­ple of Drogheda, and Ardee, Col­lon, Ter­mon­feckin, parts of Mon­aghan and Ca­van and Fin­gal de­cided enough was enough. They took to the streets to send out a mes­sage - hands off Our Lady of Lour­des Hos­pi­tal.

In re­cent weeks, there has been a man­age­ment led bid to get the name of the hos­pi­tal changed, to Drogheda Univer­sity, Drogheda Re­gional or Drogheda Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal.

The rea­sons are pretty straight­for­ward on the hos­pi­tal’s part - a new multi mil­lion euro ex­ten­sion open­ing, a big, bright fu­ture ahead, a new name and vi­sion the goal.

Some feel there are other rea­sons - be it linked to the in­tro­duc­tion of abor­tion leg­is­la­tion or a bid to end all re­ligous ‘ sym­bol­ism’ in hospi­tals.

But last Sun­day, those that gath­ered on West Street and marched in uni­son to the hos­pi­tal didn’t seem too con­cerned with the rea­sons be­hind the pro­posed name change - they have one goal - keep the name.

And that’s where this bat­tle is be­ing fought, in the hearts and tra­di­tion of Drogheda folk and those from around the en­tire re­gion.

The name is syn­ony­mous with the town and its peo­ple and the link back to Mother Mary Martin and her Med­i­cal Mis­sion­ar­ies of Mary is as strong now as it was back then.

Peo­ple sim­ply feel there is no need to spend mil­lions chang­ing the name.

The or­gan­is­ers ad­mit­ted de­light at the turnout, which at one stage stretched all the way back from the Lour­des Church to the top of Sun­day’s Gate.

And as the masses turned the cor­ner at Beech­grove, one won­dered did the re­tired Sis­ters in Aras Mhuire hear the foot­steps out­side as they passed by.

And at the end, the peo­ple gath­ered in St Peter’s grave­yard where three speak­ers ex­pressed their feel­ings on the is­sue.

It was all so sym­bolic, hap­pen­ing just yards from the fi­nal rest­ing place of Mother Mary her­self.

Mayor Frank God­frey pulled no punches, call­ing out the hos­pi­tal man­age­ment on the pro­posed changes, won­der­ing where it will all end.

He said Our Lady of Lour­des was part of the fab­ric of the town and peo­ple were out­raged as this bid to change the name was made with­out con­sul­ta­tion with the towns­peo­ple.

‘We need pub­lic pres­sure on the HSE and the min­is­ter,’ he stated.

Bob McGuf­fin from the Save The Name group said he was de­lighted that so many turned up to make their feel­ings known and it was a mes­sage that had to be lis­tened to. Later, he was part of a del­e­ga­tion that de­liv­ered a let­ter into the hos­pi­tal.

He said over 8,000 names had been gath­ered in a pe­ti­tion and that would grow and grow in the com­ing weeks.

An­thony Moore, who launched an on­line pe­ti­tion, was equally vo­cal, say­ing the hos­pi­tal had been in the head­lines re­cently as be­ing the birth­place of the first baby of 2019.

Like so many there, he had been born in the hos­pi­tal and that affin­ity was too great for any HSE body to ex­tin­guish.

‘ The hos­pi­tal be­longs to the peo­ple and Our Lady of Lour­des is part of the his­tory and her­itage of our town,’ he stated.

He said he couldn’t un­der­stand why the hos­pi­tal name was be­ing changed and money spent on it when the HSE wouldn’t fund a much needed sec­ond x-ray ma­chine.

‘It’s a half baked idea and we must draw a line in the sand on it. The hos­pi­tal man­age­ment might think we are go­ing to go away now, but we are go­ing nowhere. This won’t go away,’ he added.

Credit was given to the likes of Imelda Mun­ster TD and Sen Ged Nash for bring­ing the cause to the Dail and for the likes of Jimmy Nash and Kevin Byrne and oth­ers for their de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards, Jimmy Nash said the or­gan­is­ers de­served great praise for get­ting the crowds out for such a cause. It is some­thing close to his heart and well worth fight­ing for.

Ul­ti­mately the mood on Sun­day was of de­fi­ance. It seems this jour­ney to save the name has only just be­gun...

THE HOS­PI­TAL BELONGSTOTHE PEO­PLE­AND OUR LADY OF LOUR­DES HOS­PI­TAL ISPART OF THE HIS­TORY AND HER­ITAGE OF OUR TOWN...IT’S AHALF BAKED IDEA AND WE MUST DRAW A LINE INTHE SAND ON IT. THE MAN­AGE­MENT MIGHTTHINK WE WILL GO AWAYNOW. THIS WON’T GO AWAY

The march be­gins on West Street

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