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Council in ‘plot’ to end religious divide in local cemeteries.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Council in ‘plot’ to end religious divide in local cemeteries. thumbnail A dividing wall in Cookstown cemetery.

MID-ULSTER Council is considering bringing to an end its policy of dividing its cemeteries by religion.

A paper is currently being prepared by the Council's Environment Committee to assess whether it will continue to separate its graveyards into Protestant and Catholic areas.

Presently, there are clear divides in Council-owned graveyards between Protestant and Catholic areas, while some cemeteries cater entirely for one side of the community or the other.

However, the Council's Environment Committee has decided to "consider the future burial provision in the cemeteries, including the continued practice of religious division in any future development of the cemeteries".

Mid-Ulster Council is responsible for numerous graveyards throughout the District, with only Cottagequinn Cemetery in Dungannon not divided along religious lines.

Other graveyards under control of the Council include Cookstown Cemetery, Polepatrick Cemetery in Magherafelt and Coolhill and Drumcoo Cemeteries in Dungannon, with the latter two having no further plots available for sale.

The suggestion to investigate the possibility of ending religious segregation in Mid-Ulster Council-owned cemeteries appeared to pass without any debate at the Environment Committee.

However, it is understood there could be objections raised to plans if they were to get the go-ahead.

Cookstown Cemetery is currently divided into Old Protestant, Protestant, Old Catholic and Catholic sections, with further ground on the site identified for an extension to the Catholic section.

There is further ground available for another extension while a further burial site at Cabin Wood is also under Council ownership, but if the Council proceeds with ending segregation, it could become a mixed area.

Polepatrick in Magherafelt currently has a very small mixed area, along with much larger Protestant and Catholic sections, while there is a sizeable area still available for future development, which again might become mixed if the plans were to receive the green light.

The report is currently being compiled and will be brought back to a future meeting of the Environment Committee.

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