Broughan's call for crematorium regulation rejected


IT IS easier to open a crematorium than an off-licence, the Dáil has been told, amid calls for a regulatory authority for such facilities.

Introducing the Burial and Cremation Regulation Bill, Tommy Broughan, who lost the Labour Party whip last year, said he drafted the legislation because of the number of “grossly inappropriate planning applications” for private crematoriums and cemeteries submitted in his Dublin North East constituency.

Stressing that existing crematoriums in Ireland “are highly reputable operations”, Mr Broughan warned of the need for regulation because of the increasing incidence of cremation in Ireland and the rise in planning applications for private crematoriums.

Cremation in Ireland has risen from 8.13 per cent of people in 2006 to approximately 10 per cent to 12 per cent of the almost 29,000 deaths annually.

On average a funeral in Ireland costs €4,500, rising to €5,000 in the greater Dublin area, with opening fees for plots as high as €1,500. Mr Broughan said a review of the cost of graves could offset levies needed to facilitate a self-financing regulatory authority.

It was possible for “anybody to simply open a crematorium once they have applied for general planning permission for their premises”, he said.

This contrasted with the requirements to open an off-licence, which involve planning permission as well as a “three-part full off-licence” to be able to sell alcohol.

“If a licence is needed to sell alcohol or, indeed, to operate a taxi why is it not necessary for the operation of a crematorium?”

Mr Broughan added that it was not clear whether local authorities or An Bord Pleanála had sufficient expertise to deal with crematorium proposals and applications for new “green” cemeteries given the lack of regulation.

Independent Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan said regulation of crematoriums was environmentally vital because of “mercury emissions produced by dental amalgam in human remains”.

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe rejected the legislation, however. Speaking for Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, he said the Bill did not deal effectively with all the requirements for such legislation. He said crematoriums were not specifically regulated under current legislation but were subject to provisions of other legislation, including planning, development and air pollution Acts.