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Fury as Tyrone cemetery is 'desecrated' by theft of grave ornaments

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Outraged: Councillor Trevor Wilson

Outraged: Councillor Trevor Wilson

Outraged: Councillor Trevor Wilson

A councillor has hit out at those who "desecrated" a Co Tyrone cemetery after ornaments placed on graves were stolen.

Speaking at Mid-Ulster Council's monthly meeting, Ulster Unionist Trevor Wilson said the thefts from Cookstown cemetery have been going on for the past three months.

He said it was a matter of regret that "the desecration of the cemetery in Cookstown" was coming before the council.

He said ornaments on graves were going missing.

"This has been an ongoing thing, I would say, for the past three months," he said.

"I have raised it with senior officers and the police but it is hard to catch people in the act.

"I do not know what enjoyment or pleasure people get in removing ornaments and indeed flowers from graves of the deceased and I would appeal to the wider community that if you have any information at all to report it to the police.

"It is hard enough for people to visit the graves of loved ones, but to go and find that some of the ornaments or memorials you have put there is absolutely scandalous."

Cookstown councillor John McNamee also urged everyone to bring any information they had to the police.

"Two weeks ago Francie Molloy MP and I met with the police and raised a number of issues including the anti-social hotspots," he said. "Speaking with the police today I suggested they change the way in which they police the cemetery going forward. They reassured me they will be increasing their presence.

"It is totally unacceptable what is happening in the cemetery and we need to work together to bring an end to this anti-social behaviour and I would call on anyone with information to bring it to the police.

"We will be working closely with police to make sure we bring it to an end."

Councillor Wilburt Buchanan described it as "truly shocking behaviour" and said he had been in contact with the council's head of property services, Terry Scullion, and the police and has been assured they are working to resolve the problems.

Dungannon councillor Clement Cuthbertson asked for Cottagequinn cemetery to be included in any discussions about cemeteries with police.

He said "there is a serious issue in the car park".

"At night there are cars going there and doing 'doughnuts' and spinning about and if that is not nipped in the bud it is only a matter of time before damage could be done there as well," he said.

Belfast Telegraph