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Roselawn's 'restrictive' opening times need to be relaxed, says relative

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Valerie Boyd has called on Roselawn Cemetery to rethink its opening hours

Valerie Boyd has called on Roselawn Cemetery to rethink its opening hours

Valerie Boyd has called on Roselawn Cemetery to rethink its opening hours

A Co Antrim woman has called on Roselawn Cemetery to rethink what she believes are restrictive opening times.

Valerie Boyd (71), from Carrickfergus, said the Ballygowan Road cemetery outside Belfast, which only opens three times a week, makes no provision for important anniversaries.

The retired nurse, who planted a memorial tree for her parents at Roselawn, said Milltown is open daily while others in the Belfast area - such as the City and Dundonald cemeteries - have limited windows for those wanting to visit loved ones' resting places.

"It's my late mother's birthday on Wednesday, July 29 but I'm not going to be able to go," she said.

"If you want to go to Roselawn you have to go between 5.15pm and 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays or on Sundays from 10am-6pm. At Milltown, however, you can go in every day from 10am until 3.30pm.

"It's unfair that we can't go to Roselawn at a particular time on a particular day".

Jim Rodgers is deputy chair of Belfast City Council's people and communities committee, which is responsible for cemeteries and the crematorium. He said he has received "numerous complaints from people who have loved ones buried at Roselawn".

"They're not happy with the opening and closing hours which have been in existence now for several weeks," he said.

"Roselawn is closed Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and people are complaining about not being able to visit graves.

"It's time that we extended the opening hours. This is a very touchy subject and the quicker we can get this undertaken the better."

He added: "Other councils have changed their opening and closing times and I see no reason why we shouldn't be doing the same."

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "For operational reasons in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been necessary to limit opening times at Roselawn Cemetery, City Cemetery and Dundonald Cemetery.

"This is to help manage numbers on site at any one time, and also to allow people to visit loved ones' graves outside of 'normal' business hours while burials and cremations are taking place.

"Roselawn Cemetery has the only crematorium in Northern Ireland, and as a regional facility, serves a much larger population and has a higher level of activity on site.

"For this reason, it has been necessary to have some limits on opening hours in order to safely manage the facility and protect our staff and members of the public, as well as ensuring the integrity of the cremation service going forward.

"We understand this is an extremely sensitive issue for families, especially those who have lost loved ones during these exceptionally difficult circumstances, and for those wishing to visit the graves of loved ones.

"We continue to review our service delivery and are currently looking at extending opening times at these cemetery sites in the coming days."

Belfast Telegraph