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Coronavirus: Widow who vowed daily protest tells of delight after cemetery in Londonderry reopens its gates

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A woman wears a mask

A woman wears a mask

Two women tend a grave at Milltown Cemetery

Two women tend a grave at Milltown Cemetery

PA

Lorna Wray was one of the first to visit Ballyoan Cemetery in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area

Lorna Wray was one of the first to visit Ballyoan Cemetery in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area

Etta D’Arcy with her late husband, Hugh

Etta D’Arcy with her late husband, Hugh

A woman wears a mask

A widow who had vowed to protest daily at the gates of Londonderry's City Cemetery until it reopened spoke yesterday of her joy that she can now visit her beloved husband's grave again.

"I'm so happy that I was able to get up to the cemetery yesterday," Etta D'Arcy told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There was a great crowd - lots and lots of people.

"Everybody was so relieved - you should have seen all their faces.

"Everybody came over to me and said, 'Thank you so much for fighting for us.' "

Mrs D'Arcy lost her husband Hugh last year.

"People might not realise how important it is to visit the cemetery, but I loved Hugh D'Arcy, and I'll be up in the cemetery every day till the time comes that I'm beside him," she said.

Mrs D'Arcy was speaking as cemeteries across Northern Ireland reopened in one of the first significant adjustments to lockdown rules. Restrictions had been put in place in an effort to limit Covid-19 spread. A one-way system and a cap on numbers was implemented in Derry's City Cemetery, while Milltown in west Belfast was busy with queues of people waiting to gain access.

Relatives watered plants on graves and tended to plots which have been closed since the introduction of social distancing restrictions last month.

Roselawn and the City Cemetery in Belfast will open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The ministerial executive at Stormont agreed last Friday to reopen cemeteries following calls from the public and church leaders.

Belfast Telegraph