FORMER mayor Jim Long has come out against plans to create an exclusive space in the city’s graveyards for ‘uncoffined’ burials, common in the Muslim faith.
He believes creating a separate space in cemeteries for uncoffined burials is “futile” because many people not of the Muslim faith may see it as a cheap way to bury relatives.
The government plans to introduce legislation to allow straight-into-the-ground burials in some circumstances.
But the regulations will not discriminate on faith grounds, leading to problems, Cllr Long fears.
During a discussion at this week’s environmental committee meeting, he was supported by fellow Fine Gael councillor Cormac Hurley, and a number of other members.
Cllr Long, who insisted his remarks were not made with reference to the Muslim faith, said the Irish underground system is not appropriate for uncoffined burials.
“This new directive is not about Muslims. It is about a minority of people who desire and wish to bury their loved ones without coffins. I am opposed to that in principle.
It is futile to put a small area of a cemetery for uncoffined burials because what will happen is, for example, I might have lost a member of a family, and I cannot pay for a coffin because it is too expensive. So I will be able to ask for a loved one to be buried without a coffin,” he explained.
Having just returned from a trade mission, Cllr Long added: “If I died in China, I would be popped into an oven, popped into a jar, then put in the post back home. My family would not be able to say to anyone out there they wanted me buried in a designated place.”
Supporting, Cllr Hurley said: “When in Rome, do as the Romans. We have a tradition in Ireland that those who are deceased are either cremated or put into a coffin.”
He declared it “unchristian to dump a body in the ground” without a coffin.
“If you go to a Muslim country, would they facilitate the burial of a Christian,” he asked.
However, Sean Griffin, who sits on the committee, said other traditions must be respected.
Chairman, Cllr John Gilligan illustrated this by saying: “If we suggested to Muslims when someone dies, we spend two days drinking they would be horrified.”
Following a lengthy debate, it was agreed more discussion will take place on the matter at next month’s full council meeting.