Galway City Council staff need to be re-allocated immediately in an attempt to deal with the escalating problem of delayed burials in the city.
This is the view of the city council’s three Fianna Fáil councillors - Peter Keane, and Ollie and Michael J Crowe - and comes following a number of incidents of families experiencing lengthy delays in laying their loved ones to rest.
“It is unacceptable that bereaved families should have further suffering thrust upon them as a result of unnecessary delays,” said Cllr Keane. “The service provided by our staff at city cemeteries is first class, but is being totally undermined by depleting staff numbers.”
According to the councillor, through retirement and sick leave, the staff compliment at Rahoon Graveyard has been reduced from 10 members in 2009 to three this year.
Cllr Keane has now tabled a question to the city manager Joe O’Neill asking why staff are not being re-allocated from within the parks department to deal with this issue and ensure “burials can occur in a timely fashion”.
Cllr Ollie Crowe also queried the council’s intent not to maintain a seven-day burial service within the city, including the abolition of Sunday burials.
“Infants are born seven days a week and people decease on a daily basis,” he said. “Adequate services should be in place for the births and deaths. The bereaved should have comfort in knowing they can lay their loved ones to rest within two/three days regardless of what day of the week a death occurs.”
According to Cllr Crowe, council officials have claimed burials within the city are aggravating traffic congestion during the week.
“Now they have the audacity to cancel seven-day burials; thereby prohibiting the spread of the service across the week,” he said. “This screams of hypocrisy; using burials as an excuse when it suits them.”
Cllr Crowe has further questioned claims by council officials that the cancellation of Sunday burials will save €60,000. “There is no evidence anywhere of that,” he said. “At the most it would save €20-25,000, but it also means that there will be a backlog of work on Saturdays and Mondays.
“There have also been claims that as Dublin and Cork do it, so should we, but why do we have to follow their lead? Also I reject claims that staff do not want to work on Sundays. Staff I have talked to are happy to work on the Sundays as they get good pay for it.”
Cllr Crowe also pointed out that all 15 city councillors are in support of reinstating the Sunday burials.