New rules for roadside memorials

New guidelines are on the way in Laois for anyone wishing to erect a roadside memorial to a loved one, which will permit only wooden memorials to be placed on the sides of roads.

New guidelines are on the way in Laois for anyone wishing to erect a roadside memorial to a loved one, which will permit only wooden memorials to be placed on the sides of roads.

A draft for the new rules has been drawn up by the roads department in Laois County Council, in efforts to ensure road safety and “general public sensitivities”.

While acknowledging that it was “a sensitive issue for the parties affected and the general public”, the council say the changes are necessary to ensure traffic safety.

“Memorials are not intended to appear like gravestones or plots as one might see in a graveyard. The memorial shall not interfere with the safe use of the public road or interfere with the roadside drainage scheme or other public utilities,” it reads.

Included in the items no longer allowed on future structures, are kerbing and lights. The concrete used must not exceed a certain strength and the entire area of the memorial must not exceed 2 metres square, or be taller than 1 metre.

The rules will apply to new memorials only, however should existing structures be repaired or replaced, this must be done in accordance with the new policy.

Written applications with a map and drawing of the proposed layout must be submitted for written for written approval beforehand. Evidence of insurance on the person or contractor installing the monument must also be shown.

The policy also allows for relocation of the monument if road improvements are carried out, with an opportunity to be given to the applicant to do this themselves. The council also make clear that they will not be responsible for the upkeep of the structure.

Councillors had mixed feelings about the draft guidelines, explained to them at a recent County Council meeting.

Cllr James Deegan asked that they consult carefully with anyone looking to erect a memorial.

“I wouldn’t be in agreement with any sanctions on bereaved people, but I would agree that the people that erect them, or the contractor, be responsible for the type, size and extent of the memorials,” he said.

Cllr Willie Aird said he never met anyone that erected something on the side of the road that caused embarrassment.

“I thank all who brought forward this proposal but I would like to offer a vote of sympathy. I trust that Laois County Council will show sympathy in every way,” he said.