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Anger as Belfast City Cemetery World War One memorial falls into disrepair

By Claire McNeilly

Published 23/05/2016

The Great War memorial at Belfast City Cemetery
The Great War memorial at Belfast City Cemetery

Ratepayers have expressed anger that a World War One shrine at Belfast City Cemetery has been allowed to fall into disrepair.

Visitors to the cemetery have complained that the screen wall memorial to the casualties whose graves are not marked by headstones is in an appalling state.

And there have been calls for Belfast City Council to take immediate action to restore the monument to its former glory.

DUP MLA William Humphrey, who recently visited the cemetery, said a number of constituents had alerted him to the memorial's deterioration in recent weeks.

"The poor state of the memorial was reported to my office - and to be honest it does look bad," he said.

"Initially people thought that a number of stones had been knocked off by vandals but at least we've now ascertained that that's not the case."

Mr Humphrey said that when he contacted Belfast City Council he was told that the wall is currently being refurbished and that it's a work in progress.

"They've assured me that the memorial is being stripped down and repaired," he said.

"I understand the plan is to clean the stonework and carve in the names in painted gold lettering so I'm extremely pleased to see that happening and to be able to reassure those concerned that the matter is in hand."

It's not the first time the north Belfast politician has intervened in an issue concerning the west Belfast cemetery.

Mr Humphrey has been behind a push for the erection of a memorial beside a plot where thousands of babies are buried at the graveyard, which is situated between the Falls Road and Springfield Road.

"I was approached by a local lady called Agnes Close about the area which was the burying place for babies who didn't live long after they were born or who were stillbirths between 1945 and 1996," he said.

"In those days it was common practice that the remains were taken away and family members were not present for burials in unmarked graves. For many parents this was an impediment to their grieving process and caused a lack of closure. Over the years many families have added small memorials at the plot in memory of their children.

"I fully support the request from some parents for the erection of a memorial at the site which will provide some official recognition of the purpose of the plot and the large number of burials which took place there."

Mr Humphrey said that following several meetings with the council, the issue of establishing a fitting tribute to those babies, was out to consultation.

He added: "Agnes, whose baby son was buried at the plot, has been pursuing this and I have been helping. Hopefully the council will erect a memorial in the near future."

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