Any attempt by Meath County Council to 'regionalise’ the cemeteries structure in the county is likely to meet fierce opposition in some communities, a local senator claimed this week.
The issue has come into sharp focus in a number of areas, including Dunboyne and Stamullen, where space in the local cemeteries has been filling up.
The county council announced last year that the tradition of burying people in their own parish may soon disappear with a major restructuring of the cemetries service by the council.
Officials warned that as parish or village cemeteries filled up, it would not be possible in future to provide replacement burial grounds in the same area. It said that regional cemetries may have to be provided.
Many cemetries in the county operate a 'locals only’ burial policy to make sure that local families are accommodated, but also to prevent burials from other areas so that a particular cemetery does not fill up too quickly.
With a sharp increase in Meath’s population over the last decade, the council undertook a survey of burial grounds with the aim of producing a policy document on the planning and provision of cemeteries and to feed into its policy the operation and maintenance of burial grounds vested in the control of the council.
Council officials, who produced a 30-year plan, said that because of constraints on council budgets, it would no longer be possible to provide a burial ground in every parish.
This week, Fianna Fail Senator Thomas Byrne said that he was calling on councillors to oppose any move towards regionalisation of cemeteries. He said the issue had arisen in Dunboyne where the county council has recommended three measures in relation to cemetery space - to use recently bought land at Rooske for community facilities raher than a cemetery extension; to examine the extension of Kilcloon cemetery to cater for Dunboyne burials, and to identify sites for a municipal graveyard for the entire south Meath area.
However, Senator Byrne has cl,aimed the regionalisation idea would not work.