The country's longest-serving county councillor has told his bosses to buck up on their “Christianity” by ensuring that older graveyards are properly maintained.
The impassioned plea was from Cllr Noel Collins, who called his local authority, Cork County Council, to initiate a major revitalisation of policy with regard to the care and maintenance of cemeteries, particularly those closed for many years.
Collins, who has served as a local public representative for 53 years, said “many poor souls are buried among briars, weeds and broken headstones” in cemeteries where maintenance has been abandoned.
“Some are long-since closed and comparable to derelict sites. It's 'out of sight, out of mind', where is our Christianity? Many are now an eyesore,” Cllr Collins said.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan agreed with Cllr Collins and said voluntary groups are doing a lot of the work the Council should be doing itself.
Goleen Community Council look after four graveyards and get no funding (from the County Council or Government).
"They're out of pocket every year,” Cllr Danny Collins said.
Cllr Marcia D'Alton pointed out that in County Laois the Council has specific grant scheme for voluntary groups to maintain old graveyards and Galway County Council covers insurance for voluntary groups.
Cllr Kevin Murphy said the Council can't do everything.
However, he agreed that voluntary groups are doing tremendous work and the Council should at least pay for their insurance cover.
Cllr Frank O'Flynn agreed and said old graveyards are “part of our heritage.”
The Council currently maintains in excess of 150 cemeteries, but director of services, Mary Ryan, said that many more are maintained by parish/community groups.
She said the Council prioritises the maintenance of open council-owned cemeteries and in particular, those with the highest number of burials.
Ms Ryan said where parish/community groups undertake maintenance of a cemetery they may apply for funding to their local municipal district for grants.