Galway city is on the verge of running out of burial space, despite a lengthy search for new lands.
The city council is bringing forward plans to extend Rahoon Cemetery on the west side of the city – a move which will provide 641 additional spaces. But a meeting of the local authority yesterday was told “it wouldn’t take a genius” to work out that the extra capacity would not last long, based on annual burial rates.
The city council is currently looking to secure lands for two new cemeteries – one on the east side and another on the west side – but has so far failed to make any meaningful headway, as several identified sites have proved unsuitable following testing.
Independent councillor Declan McDonnell claimed the situation had become so bad that some residents living on the east side were now being told to travel to the village of Oranmore 11km away to bury their loved ones.
“It’s a joke, we’re over 10 years looking for a site on the east side and people are now being told to go to Renville in Oranmore. The extension will cover a few years, but we should be planning new graveyards, not extensions,” he said. “We’ve been talking [the past 10 years], but the executive are at fault.”
Other councillors agreed that the situation was so desperate that it may be time for Galway City Council to use Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to acquire the land needed.
However, director of services Tom Connell strongly denied that the local authority was “laid back” about the situation.
“We are actively pursuing other sites and I reject the claim we’re laid back about it,” he said.
“We’ve been pursuing land for years and we’re encountering issues, but it is urgent work.
“You will see the same issues crop up across the county when searching for cemetery grounds.
“We don’t have a difficulty with using CPO if it comes to that.”
Last November, Galway City Council CEO Brendan McGrath indicated that a new cemetery for the city – which he then deemed as urgent – could cost up to €2m.
A full progress report on efforts to secure badly needed new cemetery lands for Galway city will be presented to councillors in June.
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