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Grave items removal part of a tidy-up, says parish


Hannahstown Cemetery

Hannahstown Cemetery

Hannahstown Cemetery

A parish which removed flowers and personal mementos from graves in a Belfast cemetery has apologised if mistakes were made - but said people had agreed to clean the burial spots of their loved ones.

On Saturday morning, relatives arrived at St Joseph's Cemetery, Hannahstown, to find that tributes including photos and memorial plaques had been put into skips or set to one side.

Relatives claimed they only became aware of what had happened when somebody posted a video on Facebook.

The cemetery management committee for Hannahstown Parish has since defended itself and explained that signs were erected throughout its cemeteries in December reminding people of the terms of their leases.

Further signs were erected in February requesting the removal of "unauthorised items" by the end of the month.

"This work commenced on Wednesday, February 17, by the removal of a volume of wreaths, flowers, candle holders, ornaments etc, which had accumulated in Our Lady's Cemetery and had not been disposed of properly," said the management committee.

"This clearance was carried out by volunteers as was all the proposed tidy-up works.

"The parish and cemetery committee wish to express their gratitude and thanks to all the volunteers who gave up their free time to maintain our cemeteries and columbarium in an acceptable condition to all.

"The tidy-up continued on Saturday, February 20, and the cemetery office has received some complaints since then.

"We will endeavour to respond to these issues and where we made mistakes we unreservedly apologise."

The committee added that during the Christmas period and anniversaries, family members may wish to place flowers in memory of their loved ones.

However, it is "expected" that these items are removed within a reasonable period of time.

"This tidy-up that commenced on Wednesday, February 17, is part of the maintenance programme and necessary to facilitate the incoming grass-cutting season and the cleaning and polishing of the marble tablets in the columbarium - similar to the work carried out last year," they continued.

"The purpose of the terms of the agreements with leaseholders is not to restrict the freedom of leaseholders but rather to ensure that our parish cemeteries and columbarium will be a testimony to our faith in the resurrection and our reverence and respect for all our dead."

Belfast Telegraph