Independent Ballina councillor Gerry Ginty said this week that he fears that a reduction of €5,000 in a grant given to The Friends of Leigue, who maintain Leigue Cemetery in the town, has led to no maintenance works being carried out on the cemetery yet this year.
Speaking at this week's meeting of the Ballina Municipal District, Cllr Ginty said: "I notice that as of now, no work has started on it. From speaking to a few members of the committee there, they are a bit disillusioned or dismayed that their allocation last year of €25,000 was reduced to €20,000. At that meeting I was full in my belief that they should have got the €25,000 for the work they do. It's not work that the council give them money for out of charity, it was an investment by the council of €20,000 to save what I honestly believe would be in excess of €100,000 if the county council were to do this work themselves. It was left for years and years and years and this cemetery had turned into a virtual jungle and nothing had been done about it. I'm afraid if we don't cooperate with the people who give their time and energy on a voluntary committee, who put their energy into organising, that someone would be employed to do it. Some of them feel that they have been let down by the council. I'm wondering what's going on."
Cllr Ginty continued: "My answer from council engineers 20, 30, and 40 years ago was that it was impossible to maintain that cemetery. The council had given up on it and there was no effort to maintain it, until this committee was formed. And once this committee was formed, they took on the huge task of reclaiming what had become a wilderness. For the sake of €5,000 if this was put in jeopardy, I'd hate to see that. The people will want to get assurances that their work is appreciated, a lot of people in Ballina have said to me is this a result of the town council going. This isn't just a cemetery, parts of it are a national monument."
Cllr Ginty's comments were echoed by a number of other councillors, who said they had received representations on it and they were looking for answers as to why no work had been carried out yet. Senior engineer for Mayo County Council, Paul Dolan, told the members that talks were ongoing. "€20,000 was allocated which is a considerable amount of money for any graveyard," he said. "I accept the point there was a reduction in the funding. It's still a considerable amount of money for one graveyard. The district engineer has met with the Friends of Leigue on the issue and they are in consultation at the moment. Obviously we don't want Leige going back to the condition that Cllr Ginty described earlier on. This will have to be sorted and it's currently in discussion and it will be resolved."