Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Graves row over ornate baby plots at Derry cemetery

The Garden of Angels at Ballyoan Cemetery
The Garden of Angels at Ballyoan Cemetery

An emotive row has broken out after parents of miscarried babies were told to remove ornamental fencing and gravel from a 'Garden of Angels' at a Londonderry cemetery.

Derry City Council has left notices on top of the sites announcing that it will remove the material by the end of this month if it is still in place.

The remains of several miscarried babies are placed in each plot at the landscaped garden close to the entrance of the cemetery at Ballyoan Cemetery.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust liaise with families and staff at the council -owned facility to make arrangements for interment on an ongoing basis. Some parents have, however, lodged complaints that other families have placed low fences around certain plots and added gravel coverage without their knowledge.

It is thought that their concerns centre on the individualisation of the site, which is designed as a communal space.

Personal, free-standing items including little memorial plaques are permitted on the plots. There are currently dozens of ornamental angel figurines, floral tributes, name and prayer plaques, and little ceramic animals placed on the graves. All these are allowed by the council, as are the butterfly and little snowman garden ornaments.

There were nine plots at the garden as of yesterday which have been sectioned off with fencing, some of them filled with white stones.

A council spokeswoman yesterday confirmed that it had placed a notice "asking family members of infants interred in the area to remove surrounds, following complaints received from other families".

She added: "We fully appreciate that this is a very sensitive issue and are doing our utmost to ensure that some agreement is reached so that the area is maintained as a tranquil place of reflection for everyone."

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