Belfast Telegraph

Parents left heartbroken by overgrown Belfast graveyard

Rosemary and Charles Moffett in Dundonald Cemetery at the grave of their daughter Samantha
Rosemary and Charles Moffett in Dundonald Cemetery at the grave of their daughter Samantha
Overgrown plots in the graveyard
Rosemary and Charles Moffett's daughter Samantha
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The grieving parents of a woman who passed away two years ago have slammed Belfast City Council for the "disrespectful" condition her grave has been kept in.

Charles (66) and Rosemary Moffett (68) from Carrickfergus said they were left in tears on Friday after leaving flowers for their daughter Samantha at Dundonald Cemetery.

In a scathing letter sent to councillors, Mr Moffett said the conditions were "the worst I have ever seen the graveyard looking in over 50 years".

Their 43-year-old daughter passed away after a long period of ill health in 2017 and is buried in the same plot as three generations of her family.

Mr Moffett said the problems included a "very roughly cut" path towards the grave which had become "grossly overgrown" and dangerous, with weeds all over the graveyard as high as three feet.

"It's just really poor management," he told the Belfast.

"There's never anyone in the office and you can't find a water tap anywhere for flowers.

"The uneven edges on the path meant I nearly fell. Can you imagine elderly people or those in a wheelchair trying to visit their family grave, it would be impossible."

"It really disappointed me, because when you come up here you drive past Stormont and despite two years without a government the grass is always perfect."

Mrs Moffett added: "I was just totally horrified. It's hard enough to come to the grave of your own child who died young, but we just couldn't stop crying when we looked around.

"We have to speak out on this, for other people, because it's just so wrong."

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council has said it is working to improve conditions at the cemetery.

"The cemetery is Victorian with graves irregularly sited," they said. "This means that all grass cutting must be carried out by hand-push lawnmowers, which is very labour intensive, over the 41 acre site. As this summer has been both wet and sunny, it has allowed growth to occur very quickly.

"Unfortunately, the grass on the rear section will now have to be cut with strimmers. Additional staff have been allocated to strimming the grass and it is anticipated that this will be completed soon."

They added that weed control was carried out three times every summer using knapsack sprayers, but the layout of the graves also made this labour intensive.

"In all cemeteries, there is the residual risk of uneven ground conditions because of subsidence. In order to make conditions as safe as possible, we have maintained paths through the long grass to most graves.

"There are eight outside taps throughout the site to facilitate the washing of graves and watering of flowers. These are checked every week and when last checked by staff, they were all working.

"We would encourage the public to contact our Cemeteries Team so that we can assist with any further concerns."

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