Protest march on Lourdes
'Save the Lourdes Name' group planning series of events after vocal formation meeting this week
Marchers - asked to dress in yellow bibs - will descend on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital on Sunday, January 6th as the campaign to save the name of the hospital gathers pace.
The group will gather and march from the steps of St Peter's at 3pm to the hospital.
It is hoped people from the entire north east will take part.
This weekend, petitions will also be available outside churches in the region for people to sign, showing their support for retaining the name of the local hospital.
There are plans to change it to Drogheda University/Regional or General Hospital before the end of March 2019.
But a formation meeting of the new 'Save the Lourdes Name' committee in the Westcourt Hotel this week suggests the bid to keep the title, bestowed by the foundress of the hospital, Mother Mary Martin, will be intense and vocal.
Mayor Frank Godfrey facilitated the meeting and said the campaign would be a regional one, from Ardee to Slane, as many people are associated with it and families have a long tradition with the services there.
'It means so much to so many and Mother Mary was a saint in her own right. The MMMs are great people, but the HSE seem to have other plans for the hospital,' he stated.
One man who feels very personally about the hospital is Collon resident Martin O'Donoghue.
He said almost 50 years ago, his mother and many others from Louth and Meath would go into the hospital on a daily basis and help with the cleaning.
'They did it to help Mother Mary Martin who was the woman of Ireland,' he said.
'I will stand over the name of Our Lady of Lourdes until I die,' he said. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last year and has been attending the oncology unit at the hospital once a week since.
He says the people of Louth and Meath donated money to build the hospital in the first place - not the HSE - and they should have a say in any name change to the people's hospital.
He urged people in the mid Louth area to get behind the campaign too.
The meeting heard various comments about the possibility that Our Lady of Lourdes could be providing abortion services in the months and years ahead and that the MMMs needed to be consulted if that became the case.
One speaker remarked, 'Mother Mary would be turning in her grave.'
Cllr Pio Smith said that the group needed to keep a united front and he said that meetings needed to be held with the CEO and the unions.
Marie McSweeney said hospital names had been changed before and it took two decades for St Catherine's in Tralee to become Tralee University Hospital.
Reference was made by other speakers to the manner in which the people in France had taken to the streets and had tried to bring about change and 'people power on the streets' gets things done.
While some felt the name change was something coming from the hospital alone, others indicated it was a lot deeper, a long term plan to lessen faith and beliefs. 'Lourdes is associated with cures, sure what better name could you have for a hospital,' it was claimed.
'This is Drogheda's heritage and it is important to lobby our politicians.
'The people built the hospital and we owe a little lady whose work began on the battlefields of WWI, who came to Drogheda and then developed worldwide,' Brian Hanratty added.
'The MMMs have always helped people, no matter their religion or colour.'
Mayor Godfrey concluded by saying that the name change was one of the biggest issues ever to hit Drogheda and it was the right of the people to have their say on it.
In a phone comment, Peter Fitzpatrick TD said that he had spoken to the management of the hospital and no decision had been taken on the name change as yet.
Following the meeting, Bob McGuffin was elected chairman, Kevin Byrne, secretary and Danny Nugent, PRO.