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Ban on mourners at Belfast crematorium continues

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Roselawn crematorium

Roselawn crematorium

Roselawn crematorium

Belfast City Council insisted yesterday that it had no plans to review its ban on mourners at Roselawn crematorium.

The crematorium, which is the only such facility in Northern Ireland, has been closed to mourners since March 23.

While up to 10 mourners, friends and family may attend a burial at a city council cemetery, there is no such facility at the crematorium. Following concern expressed on social media at the weekend about the ban, a city council spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph: "Belfast City Council regrettably took the decision to close the chapel at Roselawn crematorium and associated facilities to mourners from Monday, March 23 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"Cremations are still being carried out but unfortunately no family can be in attendance.

"City of Belfast Crematorium is a regional service providing cremation services for NI as well as being accessible to people from the Republic of Ireland."

The spokeswoman added: "It is the only facility in NI and it is essential that we maintain the ability to operate this facility effectively in coming months.

"Council wishes to express its deep sympathy to all families who face the passing of a loved one during these very difficult circumstances."

The spokeswoman said that the restrictions had been put in place to protect the public as well as crematorium staff and those such as funeral directors, undertakers and clergy who were part of the process.

She rejected suggestions that there was a backlog of cremations at the Roselawn facility.

Relatives of people whose remains have been cremated must travel to the east Belfast facility to collect their ashes, while obeying the current social distancing restrictions.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Funeral Directors criticised councils for blanket bans on mourners at graveyards and crematoriums.

It said services should be allowed to continue within social distancing guidelines, and criticised some local authorities for going too far with their restrictions.

York City Council had banned all mourners from York Crematorium - but is now allowing loved ones to gather outside.

Belfast Telegraph