| 7°C Belfast

Coronavirus: DUP councillor's online petition calls for reopening of cemeteries to public

Close

Father Gerard Alwill performing the final committal over Anne Best’s coffin at the burial. Current restrictions mean that a maximum of 10 close family members can be present - socially distanced - at private funeral services and subsequent committals at cemeteries.

Father Gerard Alwill performing the final committal over Anne Best’s coffin at the burial. Current restrictions mean that a maximum of 10 close family members can be present - socially distanced - at private funeral services and subsequent committals at cemeteries.

Father Gerard Alwill performing the final committal over Anne Best’s coffin at the burial. Current restrictions mean that a maximum of 10 close family members can be present - socially distanced - at private funeral services and subsequent committals at cemeteries.

A councillor has started an online petition calling for Stormont to allow cemeteries to reopen.

The Change.org petition was launched by Mid and East Antrim DUP member Andrew Clarke yesterday.

New rules passed by Stormont - and backed by his own party - mean cemeteries much remain closed during the pandemic.

Mr Clarke said he believes MLAs "should act immediately to allow the grieving to visit their loved ones' graves".

"The process of grieving is long and deep, and should only be interfered with where there is a clear and strong danger," he said.

"If social distancing is maintained - and it usually is in any case in this most private of times - there is no danger of spreading the virus.

"How is it right that you can walk around a park or go shopping for tins of booze, but can't spend a few moments by your child's grave?

"Many of those grieving have contacted me with their stories, and those stories are deeply moving. Stormont should be standing with people at this time, not inflicting unnecessary suffering."

Current restrictions also mean that a maximum of 10 close family members can be present - socially distanced - at private funeral services and subsequent committals at cemeteries, while Roselawn crematorium is out of bounds to all mourners.

Death notices in newspapers no longer carry details about the timings of funerals and where they're being held.

Mr Clarke's petition had been signed by 34 people last night.

It states: "Stormont, we know you are busy. But please do the right thing. Allow us to mourn with dignity. Open our cemeteries."

It adds: "Cemeteries were the one place where social distancing has been practiced all along. Perhaps it is thought best to open with limited hours, or with increased signage, or to supervise in a trial way."

Belfast Telegraph