New cityside cemetery options being examined

Derry's  City Cemetery nearing capacity. DER2017GS027
Derry's City Cemetery nearing capacity. DER2017GS027

Expressions of interest from landowners for a new cityside cemetery are now being reviewed, while Councillors have approved formal discussions towards establishing a regional crematorium.

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that the review involves those who have come forward “with lands able to facilitate the development” of a cemetery in the cityside.

She added “An updated report is expected to come before members of the Environment and Regeneration Committee in the coming months outlining the responses received and the next steps involved in the process.”

Following extensive works to create more space at the City Cemetery over recent years, Derry’s largest place of rest will have reached its capacity by 2024.

At present, the historic cemetery is the only graveyard on the west bank still in use for burials, and over 75,000 people have been buried there since it opened back in 1853.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, proposals to formally begin discussions around a new regional crematorium have been backed by local Councillors on the Environment & Regeneration Committee at their monthly meeting on Wednesday.

The Council was told that preliminary talks have already been held with some other Councils, including Donegal.

It is now over 50 years since Northern Ireland’s only crematorium opened at Roselawn in Belfast. Officers from Derry City & Strabane District Council however will now enter into discussions with their counterparts in Fermanagh & Omagh, Mid Ulster, Causeway Coast & Glens, and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Councils and Donegal County Council, to look at a potential joint venture to create a new one.

Karen Phillips. Derry & Strabane’s Director of Environment and Regeneration, said that Roselawn Crematorium began operating in 1961, and remained the only facility of its kind in the north.

Recommending the Committee approve the formal talks, SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly related how one local family had had a terrible experience of trying to take their father for cremation during a bad winter several years ago.

He said that the weather had affected travel on the Glenshane and the grieving family, even while undertaking the journey, were not sure if they would get to Roselawn Cemetery.

“Plenty of families find themselves having to travel long distances and have to make difficult decisions,” he said, adding: “I am glad you mentioned Donegal- the people of Inishowen and across Donegal have to make similar journeys.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy said she too was glad to see the inclusion of Donegal. Colr. Duffy said she had been in touch with several families, including one who had to travel to Cavan for cremation, and had had a “very positive experience”, but would like to see something much more locally based.

She said that when looking at models, the privately-run Cavan facility should be looked at alongside the Roselawn facility.

DUP Councillor David Ramsey said the fact that “so many councils are now partnering with us proves the need”.