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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

MEA Council set to introduce cranes to lift coffins weighing more than 25 stone

Ballee Cemetery

Ballee Cemetery

Coffins weighing more than 25 stone will require a crane for burials in Mid and East Antrim’s council-owned cemeteries, according to proposed new regulations.

Revised cemetery management rules and regulations are to be presented to the council’s Environment and Economy Committee for approval at a meeting on Monday evening.

The proposed regulations say:

If a coffin is over 25 stone, council will employ additional measures to ensure the health and safety of staff and others involved in the burial process. In most cases, this is likely to include a mechanical lifting mechanism such as a crane.”

It is also noted costs are “per council’s normal interment fee”.

Proposals also state funeral directors should supply three staff for every burial to ensure remains are buried “safely and with dignity”. Two council cemetery staff must be at the graveside at the time of interment.

A supplementary fee will be charged if a funeral does not arrive on time, meaning cemetery staff are required to work overtime.

Regulations say up to four people can be buried in a standard grave. However, the number of burials that can be accommodated in a grave space is dependent on ground conditions. No refund will be given if a grave has limited capacity due to rock or another obstruction.

Full surrounds are not permitted in a lawn section and will be removed. Miniature surrounds are not permitted in front of a memorial and will also be removed. However, exemptions apply at some sections of some Ballymena cemeteries.

Members of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed last month new segments in Ballymena cemeteries must be retained as lawn to allow for easier maintenance after “disregard for policy” by some grave owners.

Up to 50 graves have surrounds in Ballee which is supposed to be a lawn cemetery.

Councillors have stressed that in new sections, this policy must be enforced.

In lawn cemeteries, grave owners will be expected to remove Christmas wreaths and floral tributes by January 31 and if not, cemetery staff will be given permission to do so.

Grave owners are also advised “symbols, flags or emblems must not be placed on graves at any time which is likely to disrupt a good and harmonious atmosphere”. The council will not permit the discharge of a firearm except at a military or police funeral.

The council says it is not responsible for maintaining graves or removing leaves and other than bedding plants or bulbs, nothing should be planted.

Meanwhile, headstones and surrounds will not be permitted within the public health section of council-owned cemeteries, formerly known as paupers’ graves.

Dogs will be permitted in council-owned cemeteries but must be on a lead and “under control”. Dog foul should be lifted. There will be a zero tolerance approach to abusive behaviour.


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