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Criticism of management of Clare burial grounds prompts Council review

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*Photograph: John Mangan

A review of the maintenance and operation of all burial grounds in Co Clare is to be undertaken for the first time since the recession.

It follows recent criticisms regarding the maintenance of burial grounds across the county plus instances of vandalism and items being stolen from graves.

Confirmation was issued at a recent meeting of the West Clare Municipal District that a review was to commence. Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) had sought that the maintenance and operation of graveyards in the MD be re-assessed.

Resource implications and “the reactionary approach to maintenance” were referenced by Joe Spellissy who outlined there was to be countywide review. The senior staff officer in the Council’s environment section detailed that the current charging regime has been in existence since 2009. Future policy would be influenced by “the issue of how non-operational/non-revenue generating burial grounds are maintained”.

Two different standards of maintenance exist with regard to the graveyard in Doolin, Cllr Garrihy flagged who reminded the meeting that the area was in fact owned by the Council. “Somebody has to be the adult in the room,” he remarked. He described burial grounds as “some of our most sacred places and also some of the most visited places in our county”.

Critiques of Clare graveyards is now an annual occurrence, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) noted. “You can set your clock on the Monday after every Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or certain events that there will be disappointed relatives that the graveyards were not to the standards they would expect”.

Director of Service with the local authority, Leonard Cleary advised the meeting that the burial ground was being looked at closely by Council officials. “The funding model hasn’t been looked at since after the recession. We do need to make sure this important service is funded locally. There are a lot of stakeholders in the community, church, state and nation is the best way of describing it”.

Cleary added that columbarium walls will also need to be factored into any conversations as he stated more people were getting cremated in the county.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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