The Cork city cemetery which was hit by a distressing act of vandalism is in line for a range of security upgrades.
Seven CCTV cameras at St Catherine’s Cemetery in Kilcully have been upgraded with the latest in high-definition cameras.
The state-of-the-art surveillance system will be monitored 24-hours a day and will allow the operators, monitoring the screens from a remote location, to activate a voice warning system attached to the cameras.
The operators will be able to issue a verbal warning through the speakers to warn intruders or anyone spotted acting suspiciously in the cemetery that their activities are being recorded, and that gardaí may be alerted.
Extra lighting is also being installed in the cemetery car park in a bid to enhance visibility in the area.
The enhancements were confirmed by Cork City Council following an update from gardaí on Monday in relation to the investigation into the desecration of several graves in the historic cemetery in early January.
Several thousand euro worth of damage was caused to graves during the incident, with the headstones on up to 20 graves knocked off their plinths, several statues were beheaded, and various grave ornaments and vases were smashed.
It was the worst and largest single incident of vandalism at the cemetery where smaller numbers of graves had been attacked and damaged in recent months.
Some of the graves and plots damaged in previous incidents are owned by members of the Travelling community and there were concerns the grave attacks may have been linked to a local feud.
But following extensive garda enquiries, it is believed that a suspect has been identified and that the vandalism is the work of just one individual and there is no connection whatsoever to any feuding.
In the immediate aftermath of the vandalism, Cork City Council arranged for a 24-hour security presence on the site but it warned such a presence was not sustainable in the long term.
A committee of concerned relatives was formed and they have been calling for security upgrades in and around the cemetery.
Council officials confirmed yesterday that following consultation with security experts, a raft of improvements are now planned in and around the cemetery.
A spokesman confirmed that there are no plans to lock the cemetery gates at night.
“We acknowledge that people have different ways of dealing with grief. Many people visit cemeteries at night-time and we were conscious that we needed to be able to keep the gates open while at the same time enhancing security,” he said.
Local Fianna Fáil Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, who has been working on behalf of the relatives’ committee, welcomed the improvements.
“A further meeting will be held shortly to discuss concerns raised at recent public meetings,” he said.
Gardaí told a meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee on Monday that its investigation into the vandalism is ongoing.