‘Council need to let my mother rest in peace’

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A local family say that their mother has never been able to rest in her grave due to ‘insensitive requests’ from Council to remove artificial grass from her Coleraine grave.

Lily McCrudden died in August 2013 and her devoted daughters, Tracey, Margaret and Lorna visit her grave, at Coleraine cemetery every day.

However, proposals to make all Council owned cemeteries lawn only, mean that a piece of artificial grass they placed in front of a headstone may have to be removed.

The family claim that they have been unfairly treated by Council, and although other graves are affected by the new rules they say those families haven’t been contacted by Council officials.

Speaking to The Times on Friday, the sisters, accompanied by Rev Bert Ritchie, who has been supporting the family in their quest for answers, say they only want to put across their views to members of the Council.

“We feel that we have picked on,” told Margaret. “As far as we are aware, we are the only family that has been contacted about this issue, yet there are other graves near to my mother’s that are allegedly breaking these rules.

“We were not aware that we were breaking any rules when we placed the astro turf on my mother’s grave. It was simply to enable us to clean the headstone.”

The family met members of Council’s Environmental Committee in October when a site meeting was held at Coleraine cemetery. “What we need is to sit around a table and talk to councillors and council officials,” said Tracy. “We want to put our views across. We are at my mum’s grave every day, and it’s the same for other families, “I just find it very difficult to take in that someone can make a decision on a grave, something that means nothing to them. This grave means everything to us. It’s a place to go and spend time with my mum,” she said.

Rev Bert Ritchie, who has been supporting the family added: “I really think that Council needs to widen this whole debate. A cemetery is a sacred place, and it is very personal to people. There is certainly no urgency to make any changes, so I just feel that some consultation with families, churches, and funeral directors would help alleviate some of this bad feeling.”

Margaret added: “We are not asking for much here, we are asking Council to be fair, to give us some dignity and let our mother rest in peace.

“My mother put up a brave fight right up until the end, but sadly she has not be able to rest.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Causeway Coast and Glens confirmed that other families had not been contacted about graves as the recommendations are to rattified before any contact will be made.

The statement added: “The recommendation approved by the Environmental Services committee held on Tuesday 2nd February, which is yet to be ratified by full Council is: ‘that Council approve implementation of the proposed new Rules and Regulations for the administration and operation of Council cemeteries and encourage the sensitive resolution of unapproved memorials and other grave adornments within designated lawn cemeteries, with the amendment to Item 10.2 of the Rules and Regulations ‘That artificial grass will not be allowed to be placed over the area of the grave’.

“Members of one family have requested to speak at the next Council meeting, but because there are speakers already presenting they have been asked to submit a report which will be issued to all councillors.

“Many councillors have been approached and spoken to the family and attended a meeting at the graveside at the family’s request.”