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Cllr’s family no longer visit cemetery

GRAVE CONCERN: UUP Alderman Sonia Copeland
GRAVE CONCERN: UUP Alderman Sonia Copeland
By Conor McParland

BELFAST City Council will aim to tackle the issue of desecration of graves within the City Cemetery after a motion was brought forward on the problem.
At the September Belfast City Council’s monthly meeting UUP Alderman Sonia Copeland proposed a motion to tackle the problem.
Alderman Copeland called on Belfast City Council to ensure that wanton rampage and destruction of graves within the Cemetery is never repeated after a number of recent incidents.
Speaking in the Chamber on Monday night, she explained: “Belfast City Cemetery opened on 1st August 1886 and was designated for all the citizens of a growing city, regardless of race, religion, gender, colour or creed.
“Since that time, it has become the resting place for almost a quarter of a million citizens.
“How can you rest in peace when it is used by some as a place to drink, rake about in, attack, desecrate or destroy?
“Two weeks ago, an elderly lady in her 80s was witnessed weeping at the grave of a late loved one because of the damage caused to the grave.
“My own grandfather’s grave has been destroyed and my own family cannot bear to visit.
“I would also like to commend councillor Stevie Corr for his nightly work in the cemetery which is not an easy task.
“This cemetery and the graves and memorials it holds are the responsibility of this Council.
“It strikes me that the only way to prevent a reoccurrence of recent events is to properly secure the perimeter and ensure the proper penalties are in place are used when culprits are apprehended
“Something needs to be done and we as a Council need to do it. This facility is for everyone and we need to look after the needs of all the communities who are buried, visit and are bereaved.
Fellow UUP representative, Alderman Jim Rodgers, who seconded the motion added: “We have been talking about the City Cemetery for many years in this Council and we genuinely need to do something to prevent this occurring again.
“We have a responsibility to ensure the dead rest in peace. It is simply not good enough.”
The issue will be brought to the Council’s People and Communities Committee meeting on Tuesday.

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