Tipperary Co Council has had to erect signs demanding that people take unwanted wreaths and flowers, and that only “approved headstones” are allowed.
Cormac’s Cemetery in Cashel has been the scene of drunken parties on people’s graves, open drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, intimidation and extortion of visitors, while the grave of one deceased person had to be exhumed recently after it was desecrated - these were some of the horror stories heard at this month’s Tipperary County Council meeting.
Cllr Roger Kennedy said Cormac’s Cemetery has strong bye-laws but they are not being enforced. “We constantly have people visiting graves being intimidated. People unable to tend to their graves. Flowers being removed, and not by council staff.”
A number of families have had to exhume loved ones, most recently in the last month, “because of the intimidation that was inflicted on that family.”
“It’s not right, and it’s not proper.” The regulations in relation to structures on graves are being “totally flouted”. There was no point in bringing in new bye-laws if the existing ones are not enforced. The Council has installed CCTV on the gate, but “it hasn’t affected the behaviour of people”
In one incident, the mother of a family visiting the graveyard, had to ring her husband who was visiting Cashel King Cormac’s GAA club nearby, so that he could ‘rescue’ her from a gang who had surrounded and intimidated her in the cemetery.
“She felt so intimidated, and the insults that were being hurled at her. She had to ring her husband to come over and bring her out of the cemetery.
“That’s what’s happening,” said Cllr Kennedy. It’s “not good enough” that people can’t visit their loved ones without being abused. “It cannot be allowed to go on. It’s beyond comprehension.”
Cllr Kennedy had two motions at a municipal district level in the last 12 months demanding that the existing bye-laws be enforced. “But nothing has happened. The gardaí have been called there on numerous occasions.”
Clr Declan Burgess said standardisation of bye-laws was “key.” Hopefully the upgraded bye-laws can see improved management of Cormac’s Cemetery.
“I was up there yesterday evening, there were bottles of empty beer splattered everywhere, and the remains of anti-social behaviour. And we’re getting the calls from loved ones and neighbours who are going up there.”
People are being forced to give money to get past to see a graveyard. “What’s going on up there cannot go on anymore.”
Tipperary Co Council needs to come up with a compassionate response and sit down “this week” with all stakeholders there, added Cllr Burgess. “People are at their wits’ end, the fear and the scare mongering needs to end.”
If an illegal structure goes up, it should be removed. Cllr Burgess had earlier revealed to local radio that open drug dealing was occurring in the graveyard.
Cllr Michael Fitzgerald said problems have been growing rapidly in St Michael’s Cemetery in Tipperary town. The problems have accumulated over years, but are now coming to a head. What had been done in Cashel was “too disgusting” to discuss in a public forum, but he would urge the public to take this opportunity to “make their voices heard,” during the period of public consultation.
Cllr Fitzgerald had spoken with local undertakers. “It’s always more beneficial to sit down around the table” and resolve the issues sensitively.
Cllr Eddie Moran drew attention to monuments in Templemore’s graveyard that had become dangerously high, and were overshadowing nearby smaller graves. “I think we have to be more active with our grave committees.”
Full story in this week's Tipperary Star
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