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Roselawn 'not a welcome place' for nationalists, SF councillor claims

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Belfast City Council’s crematorium at Roselawn

Belfast City Council’s crematorium at Roselawn

Belfast City Council’s crematorium at Roselawn

A Belfast Sinn Fein councillor has claimed 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 facility.

On July 17 the council removed a banner with sectarian language from the cemetery, featuring “an apparent gloating reference” to the death of Bobby Storey, the leading republican who was cremated there a month earlier in highly controversial circumstances. Police are investigating the banner incident as hate-motivated.

Meanwhile, Belfast council is facing investigations after accusations that mourners at the Storey service received special treatment that left eight other 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 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 were “not opposed” to 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.”

The alderman however said 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