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Standing up for our culture

Speaker's Corner
Standing up for our culture

Michael Commins

When Tony Canavan, the manager of Mayo General Hospital, tells us that it has been the policy of the hospital not to erect a Christmas Crib in the foyer in recent years, one is still left with the question …. was it Mr Canavan himself who initiated this policy?
In a written reply to a query from Deputy Michael Ring in recent days, he once again offers the mantra: “We are cautious not to cause offence to any patient, visitor or indeed member of staff working at the hospital through the open display of religious symbols.”
Much of the history of the Irish nation is bound up in its fight for freedom from domination over the centuries. The 1916 Proclamation and the preamble to the Irish Constitution clearly state the position of the Christian faith in this country.
As Michael Ring stated in The Mayo News last week in response to Mr Canavan’s reply: “People are outraged over the whole issue. The crib is part of our native tradition and our traditions have to, and must, take precedence in our own country.”
He is 100% right. It is time that the people spoke out against such nonsense and such imposition. If people come to this country, they should be willing to accept us the way we are and not try and impose change on our native culture and traditions. If our ways are not good enough for them or ‘cause them offence’, too bad. Let them move on and see how many other countries or cultures will accommodate them.
I know Irish nurses who worked in hospitals in Baghdad and other countries in the Middle East. They would not dare object to any symbols that were in place in those hospitals. They accepted that the majority culture of those countries held sway and, what’s more, they did not expect the people to change their ways just to accommodate them. And rightly so.
It’s time we stopped pandering to the nonsense of political correctness and took a stand. Be proud of our own traditions and way of life. Are we expected to throw away everything we stand for and all the Irish traditions that have won us respect the world over ….just to appease the few who might be ‘offended’?
I wonder if Tony Canavan had the job as manager of Glasgow Celtic of Rangers, would he immediately decree that both clubs should remove all their flags and emblems from the city and that all supporters should wear ‘neutral’ jerseys … just in case they might otherwise ‘cause offence’?
The one thing that Mr Canavan has succeeded in doing is causing grave offence to 99% of native people who are proud of our traditions and our way of life. We don’t need him to come here and impose his views in our own public hospital which has catered for Mayo people for generations.
In his letter, Mr Canavan states: “As a compromise over the last number of years we have placed a crib in the hospital oratory. This is located on the first floor of the hospital. As such it is very close to the main hospital wards and convenient to anyone who may wish to visit it.”
Fair enough to a point …. but who asked Mr Canavan to ‘compromise’ in the first place? Why compromise on a tradition that has stood the test of time?
There is something that rebels in the Irish psyche when we feel we are being trampled on by outside influences. The words of Merle Haggard’s song come to mind: “You’re walking on the fighting side of me/Running down a way of life, her fighting men who fought and died to free.”
Deputy Ring captured the mood of the region perfectly last week when he stated: “I am calling on Tony Canavan and the Health Executive to immediately reverse this decision and rectify the matter. It is a disgrace that one of our very special traditions is being shunted about in such a manner. The people are up in arms over it.”
As a proud people, we should not have to tolerate this imposition of political correctness by Tony Canavan and whoever else is responsible for such nonsense at Mayo General Hospital.