work will get underway this year on upgrading and maintaining the two Holy Angels’ plots in St Peter and Paul’s cemetery in Portlaoise.
The graves hold the remains of babies who died in Portlaoise Hospital, and are owned by the HSE. Last summer the older plot, now full to capacity, was criticised for being in a neglected state, particularly noticed at the annual Cemetery Sunday Mass in June.
Afterwards relatives took matters into their own hands, tidying it up and laying fresh stones.
On January 10, the HSE held a public meeting at the hospital, and formed a consultative forum. It includes parents and relatives of the babies. Thegroup will now oversee upgrading and maintenance of the old and new plots. A Remembrance Service is planned.
Cllr Caroline Dwane, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald and Cllr Kathleen O’Brien, who is also chairperson of the cemetery committee, are on the forum.
“I am very pleased that parents are represented in the group, I think that is vital. I welcome that a goal is set to have the project completed by November, at last things are moving now,” said Cllr Dwane.
She praised the HSE’s Mary Fitzpatrick for addressing the problem.
The forum also includes the cemetery caretaker, local clergy, and representatives from Laois County Council and the HSE. They will meet regularly throughout this year as the plots are upgraded.
The HSE says it will pay for any costs incurred in the upgrade and upkeep. It said the forum will be in place for 11 months.
“The consultative forum will assist and support hospital management in determining the most sensitive and appropriate means of tidying and upgrading the Holy Angels’ Plot. The forum will advise on the tidying and upgrade of the older of the two plots in order that the presentation and upkeep of the plot will be acceptable to the parents and to the relatives of individuals buried in adjacent plots”.