The criticism came from a number of Cork county councillors who said the practice of burying those without relatives in so-called pauper’s graves and not putting up a plaque to their memory had to stop.
Councillors agreed to formally write to the HSE to change the practice after a motion was put down by Cllr Gerry Kelly (FG).
“This present practice is totally unacceptable. These people are dying in the care of the State and the least they could be put up is a simple nameplate with the person’s date of birth and their date of death. It wouldn’t break the bank,” Mr Kelly said.
He said relatives who had emigrated might one day want to find a grave and wouldn’t be able to do so.
Cllr Dan Fleming (FF) said the onus should be on the local council or undertakers to make sure a plaque is erected.
“If there was a headstone over each grave it might prompt people to pray for these lonely souls,” Cllr Noel Collins (Ind) commented.
“I hope the HSE will take note and act accordingly. I hope it will stir the conscience,” he added.
Cllr John Gilroy (Lab), who is a psychiatric nurse working at St Stephen’s Hospital, Glanmire, said people who died in the care of that hospital were given dignified funerals, although he admitted that headstones weren’t erected to them.
Cllr Maurice Ahern (FF) pointed out that Cllr Noel Collins had actually collected money himself to arrange for a recent clean up at a paupers’ plot in Midleton.
The Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Tom Sheahan, said it was “unfortunate” the HSE wasn’t marking such graves with proper plaques of headstones. He said the council would write to the HSE on the issue.