With graveyard mass season on the horizon, voluntary committees across the county were taken by surprise when new signs appeared restricting flower planting and other memorials.
Signs were errected by Kildare County Council at 12 cemeteries without warning.
Ger Melia from St. Evan’s Graveyard Committee in Monasterevin said they had not been informed of the change in policy.
He explained that the council had agreed at a meeting last year that the new extension would be a lawn cemetery with restrictions on flowers and headstones.
“We had no problem with that. If that’s what people want, that no problem.
“However, it was agreed that the council could come in and clean up the graveyard but that the new restrictions would not come into place until the extension was in place and it came into use,” said Ger.
The original cemetery is still being used as there is still space for more burials.
With the annual graveyard mass due to take place on June 17, Ger is adament that families and friends of those interred at St. Evins can continue as normal despite the new signs.
He believes the original agreement is still in place.
Brendan Gorman and his wife, from Prosperous, were worried the council was going to interfere with the existing graves.
“My wife and I were very upset when we saw this. There was disbelief,” he said.
“We met others there on Sunday, I don’t think they believed it. Like them we go there every week and tend to the grave, it is a very special place,” he added.
At the Kildare Area Committee meeting last Wednesday May 15, Cllr. Suzanne Doyle said there was no consultation with the local volunteers or councillors before the signs went up.
While she acknowledged the hard work and progressive nature of the environmental section of Kildare County Council, she said this was totally unacceptable.
“These are traditional graveyards.
“I acknowledge there is a shortage of space and where there are new cemeteries and extensions, it’s easy to put in new rules and there are merits to the lawn style cemetery, but there was no consultation on this.
“Where is the policy for this?
“It’s supposed to come before the members and I haven’t seen it,” she said.
She praised the work of the volunteers who work hard on the various committee throughout the county to maintain the local graveyards.
It is understood the structural changes and headstone heights only apply to new graves, however restrictions on flower planting and new benches apply.
- Niamh O’Donoghue