By Cathy Lee
Grieving families have found themselves in an even harder situation, as some local authorities in the greater Dublin area have not been allowing the erection of headstones during level five deeming it as “non essential” construction work.
Although some local authorities across the country have allowed headstones and maintenance of graves to go ahead over the last few months, others have not given permission. Speaking in the Dáil last week, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that he would “double check” if headstones were exempt from restrictions but all the while some stone masons find themselves up against a brick wall while trying to meet the demands of grieving families.
One such worker from Tallaght, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he felt these restrictions being implemented were infringing with the bereaved person’s rights to commemorate their dead and adding to the hardship of the grieving process.
‘We’re allowed operate in most cemeteries in Dublin as an essential service, except for Fingal and South Dublin. We can talk about what is and isn’t essential but for the bereaved, getting that headstone up is essential and a lot of those people are very upset. Due to the sensitivity of this, a lot of families are very angry.
‘I had a woman on to me last week who’s father died of Covid and she wanted the headstone up as soon as possible, and as stone masons it leaves us in a position where we’re locked out. We feel that we’re being lumped in with construction, which may not reopen until after April 5, but the way we see it we are part of the funeral business which is open with stringent Covid-19 health and safety measures in place. We have that in writing from the Dublin Cemeteries Committee’.
The stone mason called upon these local authorities to follow in the shoes of Carlow County Council, which conducting a U-turn last month and allowed for headstone erection to go ahead in level five.
‘A lot of people wanted headstones up for Mother’s Day and we missed that but now Easter’s coming up, and this is the position we find ourselves in and we feel we aren’t being listened to’.
Fingal County Council, which operates a total of 36 burial grounds, has said that the situation is being reviewed but South Dublin Council has not said this to date.