Legal advice has been sought over a controversial proposal for a graveyard in Co Kerry which may not be “consecrated ground”.
Proposals for a new cemetery at Knockeenduff, Killarney, were voted through by a majority of area councillors.
But three members, councillors Donal Grady, Maura Healy-Rae, and Niall Kelleher, are unhappy and said the “key issue” of whether the site would be consecrated had not been properly addressed by the council’s executive.
“The town’s undertakers raised this in a submission and the council has refused to give a commitment that the graveyard will be consecrated. It’s not a planning issue. I want a clear answer,” Killarney-based Mr Grady said. For a number of years, a limited number of burial plots have been available for the tourist town.
In relation to the new site, a Kerry Co Council report noted: “No specific provisions have been made for any religious beliefs for the design and layout of the proposed burial ground.”
No area for an altar has been provided, although religious ceremonies for the deceased can be facilitated, the council said.
Meanwhile, the council, which is in charge of 139 public burial grounds within the county, is also under increasing pressure for space, as well as a demand to facilitate cremation urns.
A call has been made for memorial walls to be erected in all burial grounds, for the storage of urns to accommodate an increasing preference for cremation in the county. Cremation is more cost-effective for both the council and for families, a meeting of the county council in Tralee was told.
Cllr Patrick Connor-Scarteen (FG), from Kenmare, suggested the council’s executive needed to take “a serious look” at its more cosmopolitan, ageing, as well as increasing population, and at the preference for cremation, especially with a large number of non-Irish people resident in Kerry.
Undertakers in Killarney have confirmed that at least 15% of an average of 110 deaths in the town yearly are cremation ceremonies.
“More and more people are being cremated and it is especially popular where graveyard spaces are few and costly,” Mr Connor-Scarteen said.
“The lack of grave spaces in Killarney has been an issue with years, and it may be some time before a new burial ground is in place.”
He said, ideally, the council should make provision for cremation urns in all burial grounds, but should give immediate attention to larger cemeteries and where space was running out.
The council’s director of services for burial grounds, Charlie O’Sullivan, said he acknowledged the need and that the council was making provision in new graveyards.
Facilities for a special section for ashes, such as a garden or a wall, were an objective in the current county development plan, he added.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved