BEREAVED families are to be hit by the local authority’s decision to increase prices for graveyard plots across the county, it has been claimed.
Limerick City and County Council has confirmed that there have been “some increases in cemetery charges for 2015”.
The administration of cemeteries, post-amalgamation of the city and county councils, has come under the direction of Director of Environment and Water Kieran Lehane and Mairead O’Donovan, administrative officer with responsibility for cemeteries.
Following a query, a council spokesperson confirmed that “the cost of grave purchases for all county cemeteries has increased from €650 to €700” for 2015.
She also explained that there is now a “cost of €900 for the purchase of reserved grave spaces for all county cemeteries”, which includes maintenance and the cost of the second grave when a double plot is purchased at time of funeral.
Prior to this, the cost of a reserved grave was the same price as a normal grave, or €650, meaning a €250 increase for those families seeking to plan ahead and buy a second grave in county cemeteries. In the city, in Mount St Oliver, a grave costs €750 at the time of need and €1000 to reserve a space in the interior or €1,200 near a pathway.
Asked to respond to the increases, undertaker Gerry Griffin said: “We understand that certain services need to increase from time to time, but the arbitrary introduction of an increased cost for the second part of a double grave is grossly unfair.
“It should never happen that a bereaved family should be fined for buying a grave in advance. The major impact to me would be any sort of a fine or fee or increase in charges on a family that need to buy a double grave because of their family dynamic.
“The cemeteries, which in the past used to be a subsidised service in the city, have now become a revenue generating exercise.”
Mr Griffin also noted that the cost for burials after noon on Saturday or on bank holidays, can rise to €1,475.50 in the city. He said as a result “you are rushing a family who have suffered a bereavement, just because the council want to increase their charges”.
Prior to amalgamation, a situation existed where the cost of a grave in the county was double for those with an address in the city. Space remains tight in city burial grounds, while it is more plentiful in the 240 county burial grounds.
It is understood that the authority are also looking at options to increase capacity in city cemeteries.