Serious shortage of graves leads to call for Londonderry crematorium
A lack of land to bury Londonderry's dead has prompted a councillor - who is also an undertaker - to call for a crematorium for the city.
The City Cemetery, which opened in 1853, has been extended as far as possible and it is expected that all available graves will be occupied by 2024.
In 2012, a piece of land suitable for 1,000 new graves was bought by Derry and Strabane Council. But efforts since 2016 to extend the City Cemetery have proved fruitless.
The council has now launched a new bid to find land, but independent councillor Sean Carr said the number of new graves needed would be reduced if cremation was more readily available.
Mr Carr, who also works as an undertaker in the city, said: "The council has had to renew its search for suitable land to extend the City Cemetery - but having a crematorium in Derry would help to address this land shortage.
"Every year the number of people opting for cremation rather than burial is increasing.
"I intend to bring this up again in council because while planning permission has been approved for a crematorium in Omagh there hasn't been any progress on it.
"Derry would be a better location because of the population density and because it would be more accessible to people from Donegal and all along the North Coast.
"Roselawn is operating at maximum capacity now which means there is often a delay after a funeral service and the cremation, which is an added burden on the family.
"I have actually stopped using Roselawn altogether and use the crematorium in Cavan instead, so the case for a crematorium for Derry is very strong whatever way you look at it."
There are four council-owned cemeteries in the Derry area - Claudy, Altnagelvin, Ballyoan in the Waterside and the City Cemetery, where there are an average of 400 burials every year.
Of these, 160 are burials in new graves.
More than 70,000 people are buried in the City Cemetery.
Among them are former Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and hymnwriter Cecil Francis Alexander, who wrote There is a Green Hill Far Away.