Laois County Council insists that it followed proper procedures in forming new bye-laws on lawn cemeteries, which came into effect across Laois last January.
“It was advertised in the normal way. Draft bye laws went on display last September. We gave people until Friday October 19 to make comments and we got none,” said a council official.
Responding to the complaints about a lack of awareness about the new rules, the official added that “undertakers should have been aware”, and pointed out that flowers can be left on a plinth at the base of gravestones.
Cllr Paul Mitchell is on Portarlington’s joint burial board, and is calling for a meeting between themselves, the cemetery committee and the county councils.
“It’s not a simple problem, but I don’t think it’s anything that can’t be sorted out, rules and regulations can be changed. We have to take on board the concerns of people who are going through a sad time. We should make sure that people can go through the grieving process,” he said.
He praised the voluntary committee who maintain St Michael’s cemetery in Portarlington.
“They keep the graveyard spic and span, they do a fabulous job. The problem is there is no space left in the old cemetery. There are old cemeteries where graves are competely overgrown, and we wouldn’t like to see that happen. These are standard rules, they are working well in Killenard. The whole idea is to make the cemetery easy to maintain. We are planning for the future, but we need to take into account the old values,” he said.