Flowerpots robbed and driving on graves in Portlaoise cemetery

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Flowerpots robbed and driving on  graves in Portlaoise cemetery

St Peter & Paul's cemetery in Portlaoise

Visitors to Portlaoise cemetery are robbing flowerpots and also driving on top of other people's graves, according to local councillors.

The practice of driving right through the cemetery to visit graves of loved ones in common in St Peter & Paul's cemetery, they say.

Tyre marks can be seen on graves in the new lawn section of the cemetery, which is causing huge upset, says Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley.

"The whole way down the row there are tyre marks on graves. Family members are very upset, this needs to be addressed. A removable bollard each end would prevent this," she said.

Large pots are being stolen, said Cllr Dwane Stanley is on the cemetery committee. 

"Somebody was seen robbing very fancy pots off graves. A vehicle was seen in the area driving down and stealing pots off graves. This is happening nearly like a business going on at the minute," she claimed.

"It is very upsetting for people," she said.

Cllr Noel Tuohy is also on the graveyard committee and agreed.

"It is dreadful what's going on. One person told us that seven pots were taken off her mother's grave. it is so hurtful. This is a well kept graveyard, we need to look after it," he said.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald suggests CCTV cameras.

"I also heard the story of pots taken from graves. I don't know if we can put up cameras, it's awful that it comes to this but that's the way the world is now. It's terrible to think you can't put flowers on a grave. It is so disrespectful, so thoughtless to drive over people's graves," she said.

Cllr Willie Aird had raised the problems in a motion to the April meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District.

"We have a problem with people striking other people's graves. It can be solved," he said. 

People are also receiving letters ordering them to remove headstone surrounds and memorabilia from the lawn cemetery section, which only permits headstones for ease of grass mowing.

"Many years ago when we started this new part we didn't police it or ask for surrounds to be taken down. We need to have a serious conversation with the powers that be to know how they are going to enforce this now when well over 60% of the lawn cemetery is occupied," he said.

He has asked the Director of Services in charge of council owned cemeteries in Laois to meet on site. He says people should be told at the stage of talking to an undertaker that the area does not allow surrounds or memorabilia.

Donal Brennan in reply offered to meet Cllr Aird on the issues.

He noted that the Portlaoise cemetery "is somewhat unusual in relation to the extent to which people chose to drive within the cemetery. Consideration is being given to the erection of demountable bollards to prevent vehicles driving over unsuitable areas within the cemetery."