The proposed legislation in Clare ie necessary due to burial space being at a premium, the county council advised.
The Irish Association of Funeral Directors yesterday described the requirement as “unworkable” in historic rural graveyards.
Anyone flouting the by-laws, however, could face fines of up to €1,905 on conviction in the district court and a fine of €127 per day if the offence continues.
John Linnane, an undertaker in north Clare, said the new depth would put “the lives of gravediggers in danger”.
“No gravedigger will stand in a grave that deep. Where can they go if the wall collapses? The draft bylaw is very badly thought out and creates its own health and safety risk. Five-and-a-half to 6ft is plenty,” he said.
Cllr Bill Slattery (FG) has serious reservations over the plans. “They are ridiculous as in a lot of graveyards in north Clare, it is simply impossible to dig deeper than 5ft or 6ft or for a digger to get access to the burial grounds.”
The planned legislation, he said, would also create a health and safety issue “as it is not safe to stand in a grave without supporting sidewalls”.
Ger Dollard, a director of services with Clare County Council, said burial space is at a premium and the whole purpose of the depth requirement would ensure two burials in the one plot.
Mr Dollard said the draft by-laws did provide for cases where the subsoil did not permit a deep grave being sunk, and a lesser depth could be agreed with the HSE.