Senator Ged Nash.
Senator Ged Nash has reacted angrily to the proposal by management at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital to give the hospital a new secular name thus airbrushing away what he says is “a fundamental part of our identity as Droghedeans.”
Here is his statement in full:
I have fought all my political life (before it was either popular or politically profitable) for the separation of church and State.
I strongly believe in a pluralist, secular and tolerant Republic that respects the rights of all citizens equally.
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The Roman Catholic Church or indeed any other religion for that matter has no place in the bedroom, in the classroom or in the medical room.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital has been in the ownership of and has been run by the State since 1997.
Since it’s transfer from the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1997, the Catholic ethos officially ended.
Thankfully in the last two decades, Ireland has become a much more diverse and open society. Drogheda and our country is all the richer for it.
The name ‘Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital’ does not offend me and I wholeheartedly support the retention of our hospital’s name. It has a special place in the hearts of those of us who are lucky enough to be from Drogheda.
The Lourdes Hospital is a fundamental part of our identity as Droghedeans. We have an affection for it and the hospital is an integral part of our social history.
To ditch the name given to our hospital by those who were responsible for putting it there – the MMMs and the people of Drogheda – would represent a dangerous, ill-conceived and blinkered form of historical revisionism that will ultimately be counterproductive.
We could rename Wellington Quay, named after the Duke of Wellington. We could do the same with Duke Street. We could hand back the Williamite Mace because we have an objection to the occupation of Ireland. We don’t do any of this because we respect and seek to understand our history in all its diversity.
History should not be airbrushed because it is inconvenient. It should be studied in its totality and be better understood.
Since I first revealed the attempts by management to unilaterally propose a name change I have been inundated with calls, emails and messages and social media from concerned staff and locals.
There is absolutely no demand or urgency whatsoever to rename and rebrand the hospital, outside of the demands of a small handful of senior management in the health service.
I also have serious doubts as to whether or not the management have the sole legal authority to change the hospital’s name. I will be raising this in the Seanad next week.
The authorities should put the brakes on this review immediately. An email to some staff in the hospital does not represent a consultation process. The people of Drogheda have a right to be consulted and their public representatives should be engaged with also.
I have contacted the general manager to arrange a meeting with her on this important matter for the people of Drogheda."