Cork community opposes grave-digging rules

 

A WEST Cork community is resisting new regulations related to grave-digging, in a bid to protect burial customs.

People living in the area around Myross cemetery, near Union Hall, have posted notice of their intentions at the graveyard, calling on Cork County Council to respect their traditions.

The new requirements, described as “ludicrous” by Cork funeral directors, stipulate graves must be dug by registered grave-diggers only.

The sign reads: “In Myross, we dig for our own, we shoulder our own and we inter our own. Our traditions and customs. Your respect required.”

To obtain council approval, grave-diggers must have qualifications that include training as well as first-aid and risk-assessment training.

The regulations require grave-diggers to have appropriate immunisation and equipment, including ear defenders, mobile phones and underground cable detection tools.

“We have lots of old customs and old traditions and it is going to be very difficult to stop people doing what they always did,” said Robert Gabriel, a Cork-based member of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors. He said that local burial practices stretched back to “since time began”.

“I’m not going to stop any family from doing what they have always done; it will be up to the council to do that,” he said.

Mr Gabriel said the cost of implementing the new measures would be passed on to customers, increasing the price of a funeral by as much as €800.

“If a local man is not available on the day to dig a grave, then someone else on the register would have to be drafted in from elsewhere and families will foot the bill for that expense. It’s totally unnecessary; in fact, it’s ludicrous,” he said.

As a symbolic measure before the regulations are implemented, the bereaved will be allowed dig graves to a depth of 50cm.

The local authority said it was committed to complying with health and safety legislation and the implementation of regulations follows a public consultation process.

A council spokesman declined to comment on the sign erected at Myross.