Northern Ireland to get a second crematorium after council passes plans
Northern Ireland is set to get its second crematorium. The new facility will be located on the outskirts of north Belfast and will relieve pressure on Roselawn, at present the only crematorium in the province.
Following months of debate, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council agreed the plan and has now advertised for tenders from firms interested in designing, building, financing and operating the service.
The new £6m crematorium is planned for land opposite the theatre and leisure centre on the Doagh Road, under a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
However, there have been some objections from residents living in the vicinity of the site, with people raising concerns about possible pollution, traffic disruption and the potential detrimental impact on local property prices.
Some have even opposed the proposal "on the grounds of Christian conviction".
One person emailed the council to say: "Cremation essentially is a pagan practice used primarily in eastern nations which have no knowledge of the Christian gospel. Despite the political correctness of 2015 we need a return to our roots. In Genesis chapter 15 we have direct reference to burial. God makes a promise to Abraham: 'Thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace, and thou shalt be buried in a good old age.' Burial clearly was practised throughout holy scripture and there are many examples."
Most families in Northern Ireland still opt for burial for their loved ones, but cremation is growing in popularity.
Three years ago, the waiting time for cremation was up to five days, and in response Belfast City Council started to extend the crematorium's opening hours last year.
A spokeswoman for the council said the service was currently running with no hiccups.
"There is no delay in processing cremation requests," she added.
"Roselawn Crematorium offers 17 daily slots for cremation from Monday to Friday, and 13 slots for cremation on Saturdays.
"Slots are allocated on a first come, first served basis, and there are very few days when no slots are available."
Outside greater Belfast, a number of councils have considered opening crematoria.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council are currently discussing plans for one in Omagh.
The issue was raised at a meeting of the council in September.
Prior to that, the council in 2012 received permission for a commercially managed crematorium, but this will run out shortly.
A newly opened crematorium in Co Cavan has raised doubts over whether the new proposal would be commercially viable.
The plans come after a proposal to build one in Londonderry was ruled out earlier this year.
A feasibility report for Derry City Council concluded that there was "no economic incentive for the council to develop a crematorium in the present time".