Mid and East Antrim councillor, Alderman Tommy Nicholl MBE, has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to reopen cemeteries to the public ‘without delay’.
“There is an urgent and immediate need for the Executive to allow grieving families to visit and tend their loved ones’ final resting places while observing all public health and social distancing guidelines”, Alderman Nicholl continues.
“I and other elected representatives have been inundated with calls from people who simply cannot understand why the decision to open cemeteries and graveyards cannot be taken, particularly when parks and green spaces, and even household recycling centres, are rightly accessible.
“Being able to visit the grave of someone we have lost is an essential and important part of the grieving process and it is imperative that people are allowed to do that.
“It is simply unfathomable for so many of the families who have contacted me that off licences are deemed ‘essential’ while the act of tending a loved one’s grave is not.
“I am disappointed that Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party are not supportive of the wishes of all those who continue to grieve during this pandemic.
“Many of the families I spoke with had been taking their once daily exercise by visiting their loved one’s final resting place, and they were doing that according to the guidelines on public health protection.
“The reopening of cemeteries can be done with the utmost sensitivity and with strict social distancing measures in place, and it needs to happen without delay.”