Belfast Telegraph

Funeral postponed after guns are found in Coleraine grave

By Nevin Farrell

A parish priest has revealed how a security alert in a graveyard in which a grenade and two guns were uncovered led to a funeral being postponed.

Fr Charles Keaney of St John's Church in Coleraine said the family preparing to bury their loved one were "very understanding" about the delay.

The drama unfolded at around 5.30pm on Tuesday when a gravedigger discovered a bag as he was working. It contained an old grenade, two handguns and ammunition, police said. The weapons are believed to have been in a very rusty condition.

Police lifted the cordon at around 8.20am yesterday after a controlled explosion was carried out on the grenade.

The priest believes the haul of weapons dated back possibly as far as World War Two and he was thankful they were not Troubles-related.

Fr Keaney said: "My concern on Tuesday night was going to the wake and telling the family that the funeral had to be postponed for a day as the grave could not be dug and the family took it very well."

The Funeral Mass will now take place tomorrow morning.

Fr Kearney said it was concerning that graveyard visitors had been unwittingly walking over buried munitions for years.

"It doesn't bear thinking about. The whole thing has been a nightmare. Thank God it is over and no-one was injured," he said. "The police and army were very good."

Coleraine Mayor George Duddy said the cemetery worker had found the suspect object while using digging machinery.

"He hadn't got far in to it when the item was discovered," he said.

"It's concerning to think that people were using the cemetery to conceal an object, whatever it was.

"The police were on the scene very quickly but it will be distressing for the gravedigger going about his day-to-day work."

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