Councillors in the Claremorris-Swinford Municipal District have called on Irish Water to introduce a waiver system for connection of a water supply to graveyards, following a demand to the council of €13,000 from the utility to connect a water supply to Taugheen Old Cemetery.
The issue was raised at the September meeting of the municipal district by Cllr Patsy O'Brien, who had a notice of motion down calling for the council to repair the boundary wall in the graveyard and make provision to include the connection fees to connect water to it from the council's 2020 general municipal allocation.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr O'Brien said: "This has been a concern for a number of years. To me a graveyard is sacramental, it is a place that we always respect our loved ones. I would think from the perimeter wall which was knocked on a few occasions and rebuilt in the past - I don't care whether people think it is stock-proof (to keep livestock out ) - but the people who built the wall in the first place, who had very little, gave a lot in respect of this. When I walk around this graveyard and see bits of wire on top of a wall that has been knocked, it might be stock-proof but to me it is disrespectful.
"It is disrespectful to the people who have gone before us, it is disrespectful to the people that have their loved ones there. I was there in June and July and people were bringing water there to water the plants for their loved ones - and to think that we gave the infrastructure to Irish Water - the people who lie in that graveyard gave their life to their community, they gave some of their lands to put in place water schemes to the community, and to think that a bill to bring water across the road and do a connection would cost €13,000 from Irish Water is beyond belief. I think it is disgraceful and I don't think it should ever happen. Mayo County Council need to stand up for people in this position. This is an old graveyard. All I'm asking is that something be done for the people, people should get respect."
Cllr Damien Ryan agreed with his councillor colleague and told the meeting: "I support this in every regard, the boundary wall should be reinstated, that is a certainty. In relation to the connection fee, it is a bit disingenuous that Mayo County Council would have to come up with connection fees to Irish Water to a cemetery. If Irish Water thinks anything of Ireland and the infrastructure, nobody benefits from a cemetery - there should be a certain discretion when it comes to connections and this is the ultimate one and to be honest, if Irish Water want to win over public opinion, it is one thing they could do.
"I know everything has to come down to commercial realities but there isn't very many cemeteries in the country that wouldn't have water connections and I think the few that would be looking for connections - there should be a waiver system in place, because there are not going to be volumes and volumes of water used and there wouldn't be that many connections needed to be provided and you can be sure that the infrastructure isn't going to be that far away in the first place."