Never forgotten: Belfast memorial for final resting place of over 7,000 babies
A permanent memorial to mark the resting place of over 7,000 babies was unveiled at Belfast City Cemetery.
Families helped to design the memorial, created with Kilkenny limestone, which will be known as the "Baby Haven".
The 7,160 babies buried there were stillborn or died shortly after birth, with the hospital or social services taking responsibility for their burial, the last of which took place in 1996.
While Belfast City Council holds records for all the babies buried within the plot, no one individual owns specific graves and there are no headstones or personal memorials.
It's located at memorial plot Z1, an area of the cemetery used for the burial of both babies and adults.
The memorial's sculptor Charlotte Howarth was present at the unveiling and dedication service along with the families.
"It has been a great privilege to work with and collaborate with the families and focus group involved with this project," she said.
Lord Mayor John Finucane said the unveiling marked an important milestone for those who were involved with the project.
"I trust that the families will consider this a fitting tribute for their loved ones who are buried here and this permanent memorial will ensure that these lives, however short, will always be remembered," he said.
A request was made by the DUP MLA for North Belfast William Humphrey in 2015 for a permanent memorial at the plot and following a consultation process with families who had babies buried there, Belfast city Council provided £5,000 for the project.
Speaking on behalf of the families, Agnes Close said: "This has been a poignant and emotional day for the families of the babies who are resting here at the Baby Haven.
"To finally see this beautiful memorial in place gives our babies the dignity of recognition and also serves as acknowledgement of a loss suffered by so many."
Charlotte Howarth added: "I hope this memorial will offer some comfort to the many families whose babies are buried in the Baby Haven. The lasting nature of the memorial should, I hope, offer reassurance that the babies will now never be forgotten."
Belfast Telegraph Digital