Randalstown clergyman queries cemetery closures

Clive Nesbitt

Reporter:

Clive Nesbitt

Email:

clive@alphanewspapers.co.uk

RANDALSTOWN native and Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown has joined other church leaders to call for the opening of cemeteries.

Cemeteries remain shut to everyone except for burials as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19, with severe limits on how many can attend a ceremony.

General visiting is not allowed, even with social distancing measures in place.

There have been public calls for graveyards to be reopened on a limited basis so that people can visit and pay respects to their loved ones.

People in Antrim have already been asking why they cannot visit cemeteries, when supermarkets and off licences remain open.

Bishop McKeown said: “It’s important to recognise these are very fraught political decisions.

“We’re coming from a pastoral perspective - governments work very hard to cover the whole area of the economy and health but I think we have to give huge weight to the emotional, mental and spiritual needs of people, particularly at a time of bereavement, and especially when the last you see of a person is them being moved into an ambulance from your house; you can’t visit them in hospital; you can’t get to the funeral for one reason or another, and then you can’t even go to visit them at the grave.

“I think it’s a very, very difficult area, and even politicians are struggling to get things right here, but we would like to get some sense of logic from them as to their motivation for having this particular legislation.

Dr McKeown also stressed that the decision to close cemeteries was not a council decision, but a directive from the Northern Ireland Executive.

For more on this story, see the Antrim Guardian next week.

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