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Coronavirus: Grim outlook as lines of graves are dug in Northern Ireland cemetery

Diggers are drafted in at cemetery in Antrim town

The chilling reality of the coronavirus pandemic has been dramatically illustrated by images of a major grave-digging operation at a cemetery in Co Antrim.

Mechanical diggers have been drafted in to the Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim town as the coronavirus pandemic death toll in Northern Ireland continues to rise.

There have been 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Antrim and Newtownabbey where the Sixmile cemetery is situated.

The council which owns the cemetery said it was carrying out “preparatory” work in the event of its own cemetery staff taking ill in the weeks ahead. In response to a query about the work at the Sixmile Cemetery, a spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said yesterday: “As a council we have to fulfil our statutory duties, one of which is the provision of burials.


Freshly dug graves at Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim town

Freshly dug graves at Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim town

Freshly dug graves at Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim town

“We have undertaken a programme of preparatory works to ensure we can meet this requirement, particularly in the context where we might experience any reduction in cemeteries staff due to illness.”

The council spokesperson did not confirm how many graves were being dug.

Drone footage of the grave-digging work was posted on social media. It showed a fleet of lorries and mechanical diggers and what appear to be at least 40 graves being dug.

Comments below the post included: “I wonder after seeing this will people stay at home.”

In another video taken from the roadside and shared on social media a man can be heard to express his shock at what he is seeing.

Family members are no longer able to visit the graves of loved ones at the Sixmile Cemetery and the adjacent Belmont Cemetery.

Only two people and a member of the clergy are allowed to attend funerals.

Other than for burials, cemeteries will be closed. The erection of headstones has also been suspended until further notice.

The council said on its website that it “understands that these restrictions will be very difficult for people who have lost loved ones, but we all must play our part in stopping the spread of this virus”.

Belfast Telegraph