Advance sale of graves could lead to cemetery ‘apartheid’

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John Sheahan, Fine Gael. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

FINE Gael councillor John Sheahan has warned that selling off graves in cemeteries across County Limerick might lead to a form of apartheid.

He was responding to a call from Independent councillor Jerome Scanlan at this Wednesday’s meeting of Newcastle West Municipal District to sell off plots in advance, where available, to those looking to purchase them.

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Cllr Scanlan asked Director of Services Gordon Daly to give older people the opportunity to buy burial sites in county graveyards. He told council members that he had representations from around ten people on the issue.

Mr Daly informed him that the Council were currently in the process of developing a new burial ground strategy. This strategy was intended to address remaining capacity in each of the active cemeteries.

The report on burial sites throughout the county is expected to be presented to council members in the coming months.

Currently, grave spaces are available for sale “at time of need only”.

Mr Daly also warned Cllr Scanlan of the risk of opening up burial sites for advance sale in areas where there is no capacity.

“I’m getting the same fudge at every meeting, and fudge is what I’m getting,” Cllr Scanlan replied.

Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin took issue with Cllr Scanlan’s comments.

“It is very hard to provide what you are looking for,” the Abbeyfeale man insisted.

“You can’t give graves to people that are not dead. If you look at the situation in Abbeyfeale, we would have no graves left if we started giving them away.

“There’s no problem getting graves for people who are dead. What you are asking for is unreasonable,” he informed his former party colleague.

“Don’t worry about it, we’ll find a space for you,” Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Collins then told Cllr Scanlan.

Cllr John Sheahan (FG) raised concerns of an “apartheid” system developing if a proper strategy wasn’t put in place.

“You can’t have those who can afford it coming in and buying up the plots in advance for their next of kin, while those that can’t afford it are then left with the crumbs of Limerick City and County Council.

“There is one thing we do right in this country and that is respect our dead,” he declared.