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Roselawn cemetary is unwelcoming for Catholics, claims SF

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Roselawn cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast

Roselawn cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast

Concerns: Ronan McLaughlin

Concerns: Ronan McLaughlin

Roselawn cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast

A Belfast Sinn Fein councillor has said the nationalist and republican community believes that Roselawn cemetery "is not a welcome place for them".

Ronan McLaughlin made the remarks as he requested an additional equality assessment into plans to locate Northern Ireland's second crematorium in Roselawn, close to the existing one.

On July 17 council officials removed a sectarian banner gloating about the death of senior republican Bobby Storey, who was cremated there a month earlier in highly controversial circumstances.

Police are investigating the banner incident as a hate crime.

Meanwhile, Belfast City Council is facing investigations after accusations that mourners at the Storey service received special treatment that left eight other grieving families without the service they had expected on the day.

During the council's strategic policy and resources committee meeting yesterday, Mr McLaughlin said: "I'm not looking to rehash what has been going on over the past couple of weeks, and obviously there has been a criminal investigation going on as well as an internal investigation.

"However, what we have seen recently in Roselawn is the display of what can only be described as a hate banner that was very sectarian in nature.

"Me and my party colleagues have had people contacting us, families of recently deceased people, who are concerned about Roselawn.

"There is a perception within the Catholic, nationalist, republican community that Roselawn is not a welcome place for them. It's our job to address that.

"We have even spoken to staff members working at Roselawn who are trying to get more information from the council and who are worried about going into their jobs on a daily basis."

He added: "Regarding the second crematorium, or extension of the crematorium at Roselawn, we are talking here about the guts of a £15 million to £20m project.

"I know it has advanced somewhat, but all we are asking for is a simple re-evaluation, considering the hatred and sectarianism that has been displayed there recently."

Mr McLaughlin said Sinn Fein was "not opposed" to plans for a second crematorium at Roselawn.

DUP councillor George Dorrian said: "The banner being referred to was disgusting and reprehensible. We don't have truck with any of those individuals, and we wonder what goes on within their minds."

He said it was "not representative" and "not justified".

Mr Dorrian added, however, that the DUP did not believe an equality assessment was necessary.

A council officer told the committee: "I would like to think this is an isolated incident. It was absolutely disgusting, and it was sectarian."

The committee agreed to include the equality screening for the new crematorium.

Belfast Telegraph