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Security cameras for cemetery after graves attacked by vandals

By Donna Deeney

Published 22/07/2016

Desecration: Damaged graves
Desecration: Damaged graves

Security cameras will be installed at Derry City Cemetery in an attempt to curb vandalism in the graveyard.

On three occasions over the past few weeks plots have been desecrated and headstones and ornaments smashed.

And in April a runaround car that had been used by so-called joyriders was abandoned at the cemetery and set on fire.

Derry and Strabane District Council, which owns the cemetery, agreed to install the cameras - which could be in place as early as next week.

A spokeswoman said: "Council is aware of ongoing issues with young people involved in anti-social behaviour at the City Cemetery and is working closely with the relevant bodies including the PSNI to address the issue.

"The council has engaged a security firm to carry out patrols of City Cemetery grounds and intend to install CCTV cameras and signage directly. Council would like to reassure the public that every effort is being made to ensure that the appropriate steps are being taken to combat the issue and that these additional security measures will be reviewed as to their effectiveness at the facility on an ongoing basis.

"The council is mindful that the cemetery is a place for quiet reflection and should be treated with respect by all members of the community."

Olivia Mullholland, who visits her brother's grave almost daily, said installing cameras was a good move.

"I know some people have said they might be uncomfortable with cameras watching them at family graves - but everyone I spoke to said anything is better than having the grave of someone you love desecrated by a gang of wee scumbags," she said.

"I was really close to my brother before he died and I get great comfort from being here and I know I would be raging if anyone damaged his headstone or interfered with his grave in any way."

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell said it was a shame the cameras were needed.

"It's sad it had to come to this but there has been a catalogue of vandalism attacks in the cemetery over the past year," he said.

"I would once again appeal for people involved in these senseless actions in the cemetery to stop and if anyone knows the culprits to contact the PSNI."

The SDLP's John Boyle said: "The cemetery covers a vast area so I don't think it would be feasible to cover every square inch of it. But there are hotspots where these youths, who seem to be hellbent on inflicting damage on the graves, can get into the cemetery and the cameras should be located here."

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