23 January 2006

Councillor calls on Council to build new graveyard


Running out of room


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A local Sinn Féin councillor has called on Belfast City Council to accelerate its efforts to build a new graveyard after it was revealed that Milltown Cemetery is fast running out of space.

Sinn Féin Councillor and tour guide of the historical walks at Milltown Cemetery, Tom Hartley, made the call after it emerged that families could no longer buy burial plots at the historical graveyard in advance of death due to overcrowding.

It is understood however, that families can purchase burial plots only at the time of a person’s death.

Milltown is not the city’s only cemetery experiencing overcrowding, both Carnmoney Cemetery in Newtownabbey and the City Cemetery have had similar problems with grave space prompting long term fears for graveyards in Belfast.

Councillor Hartley said those who maintained the graveyards have been “forced” to take action.

“Milltown Cemetery is exhausted of new burial space at present, so it is very important for Belfast City Council to accelerate their efforts for the building of a new graveyard in the city.

“With Milltown’s graves almost full, the people of Belfast are being forced to use alternative cemeteries such as Roselawn Cemetery which has only a maximum of ten years life span left,” he said.

“Milltown Cemetery has historical significance to the people of Belfast, it has been in existence since the late 1860s and has about a quarter of a million people buried there.

“Like the City Cemetery, a lot of its graves are now full. In the past people would have been buying maybe four or five graves in advance which is just not practical now,” he said.

“Those who maintain the graveyards are being forced to take the action.
“We may have room for another 100 or so graves at Milltown but it is soon just going to be just an old burial ground,” he added.

Milltown Cemetery has housed a number of prestigious names, including the grave of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. A vast expanse of green space in the cemetery marks the site of unmarked graves for over 80,000 victims of the 1918 pandemic flu.

Journalist:: Staff Journalist

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