Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Tell mums who are outraged at Titanic buggy ban to push off

Belfast's Titanic Centre hasn't even been officially launched yet but already the air is rent with ominous crunch as multi-million pound design collides with that iciest of blocs - the easily-offended mummies.

What has rattled the bars of some maternal playpens this week was a report suggesting that, once open to the public, the city's newest landmark would be operating a ban on baby buggies.

Now, in fairness, at first glance, the headlines about a buggy ban did strike as a bit bizarre.

Surely not women with children first to be excluded from a Titanic attraction of all places?

Surely a 2012-build tourist facility aimed at families with young children would be able to accommodate the ubiquitous buggy. (A defence argument about how other major tourist attractions including the Tower of London were also operating similar buggy bans, maybe wasn't the best line given the construction work on that particular project commenced in 1008.)

Then you read on and discover that actually no, the buggies aren't being banned from the entire building. Just from the interactive galleries (whatever they are.) Wheelchairs will be allowed throughout. And in the aforementioned galleries where there will apparently, be rides and space therefore will be at a premium, baby slings will be available free of charge for parents to transport their little ones.

Can't say fairer than that?

Just try convincing the mammies ... Not all of the mammies, it should be stressed.

In fact most mothers (and fathers) will be pretty laid-back about the "ban" and will wait to see how it pans out and whether the centre might actually be able to relax it as time passes.

Often these initial opening concerns can be sorted out when facilities get up and running and staff come up with solutions.

They're what you would call teething problems. But even if the ban stays in situ, it hardly sounds like draconian stuff.

Part of the problem is the buggies themselves which these days are generally the size of slightly modified Sherman tanks. Half a dozen of those in any tight space and you've got gridlock.

Something's got to give.

Wheelchair access is quite rightly deemed more important.

And despite claims, non-pushing parents won't be forced to do the estimated two/three hour trek through the entire attraction with a squirming toddler strapped to their chest by baby sling. Just a small section of it.

Should we be surprised then, by the fuss this has caused this week?

Not really. Because in some circles the maternal tantrum is now about as commonplace as nappy rash.

This is the age of Attila the Mum with her sense of smug entitlement. "Gimme, gimme, gimme ... I want it now!"

And to hell with how this may impact on others.

By contrast, every parent I've spoken to about the Titanic Centre this week has made the same observation - that wheelchair users and those with limited mobility should indeed be the priority. And that carrying their own baby around for a short time doesn't strike any of them as major hardship or assault on parental rights.

Obviously a single parent with young twins would have a problem - there will be other special cases too - but presumably, nothing that a bit of common sense couldn't sort.

All-in-all it seems like a whole lot of griping and raised temperatures over very little.

As nanny might suggest, a wee slug of Calpol could be in order ... .

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