Belfast Telegraph

Belfast headstones: This is our history and heritage, we can't just get rid of them

Historian and former Sinn Fein councillor, Tom Hartley, who has penned two books on Belfast City Cemetery and Milltown Cemetery, gives his view on the Belfast City Council plans:

"I'm surprised at Belfast City Council if they decide to get rid of headstones as I think that would be totally unacceptable to the general public. I imagine that getting rid of the headstones would cause some bitterness in the community.

"The council have the capacity to lift an old headstone and repair it and put it back on its base which I think would be a better strategy.

"If they don't do that it will be detrimental to our society.

"It's eradicating history because headstones are part of the historical fabric of this city and they would be simply wiping away layers and layers of history.

"The other thing is that headstones are architecturally of their own times. At the lower end of the City Cemetery, many of the old headstones are classed as neoclassic and this points out the fact that it's a Victorian cemetery just by the style of the headstone.

"There are a lot of damaged stones, and stones that have come off their foundation but I think we have to work hard to preserve what we have, not get rid of it.

"We should not commit an act of desecration in any cemetery otherwise these people will disappear because we can't find them in a record and we don't know where they are buried. It's shocking."

Belfast Telegraph

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