Belfast Telegraph

Waiving of burial fees for children backed by second Northern Ireland council

By Adrian Rutherford

Another Northern Ireland council is to stop charging fees for the burial of children.

The motion was brought before Mid and East Antrim Borough Council by Ulster Unionist councillor Stephen Nicholl.

It came after his party colleague Julie O'Flaherty brought a similar motion to her local council - Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon - following the death of her two-year-old son Jake.

A similar scheme waiving fees for children is already in effect in England and Wales.

Under the proposals parents will no longer have to meet the costs of burials and cremations, with these fees being met by government funding.

A Children's Funeral Fund will only be considered in Northern Ireland when power-sharing is restored.

Mr Nicholl said: "This council recognises the introduction of government funding in England and Wales to cover the funeral costs of children.

"In the absence of a functioning government in Northern Ireland, such action cannot be introduced regionally. We can resolve this until the introduction of a regional initiative."

The motion was supported unanimously and it was agreed that Mid and East Antrim Council will waive all costs normally associated with the provision of a grave for children under 18 years of age.

UUP councillor Lindsay Millar seconded the motion.

She said: "With the lack of a functioning regional government, local councils have a new opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of our residents.

"This motion will not cause a great expenditure to the council, but will truly make a difference to parents whose lives have been shattered by the death of a child, and I am glad our council has unanimously agreed to this."

Paul Reid, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, said: "Nobody should be denied the right to bury their own child in a dignified and proper way.

"Parents who have lost a child are already facing tragic circumstances and the burden and process of cost shouldn't be another.

"I am pleased that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is adopting this scheme, showing its commitment to the citizens of the borough."

A proposal to waive child burial fees is also being considered by Belfast City Council.

Belfast Telegraph

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