Saturday 14 December 2019

Outcry as Glasnevin bids to build chapel over babies' graves

The trustees of Glasnevin Cemetery are seeking to build a commemorative chapel
The trustees of Glasnevin Cemetery are seeking to build a commemorative chapel

Plans to build a car park and chapel over the unmarked graves of thousands of stillborn babies and destitute children and adults at Glasnevin Cemetery have been labelled "deeply insensitive and insulting to any life".

Trustees of the historic Dublin cemetery want to build a chapel on the St Paul's section of the burial site to commemorate 232 citizens who died during the 1916 Rising and are interred there.

The chapel, which would accommodate 100 people, would also include a reflective pool in a walled garden and a 68-space car park as well as a road extension.


A spokesman for the Glasnevin Trust said no decision had been made on whether it would proceed. An Bord Pleanala is accepting submissions on the issue until January 16.

Dublin City Council initially refused planning permission last May on the grounds that the development would be loc- ated on "a highly sensitive site consisting of a known and historic burial ground containing approximately 3,900 burials".

It cited the council's policy to "preserve known burial grounds and disused historic graveyards, where appropriate, to ensure that human remains are re-interred".

"In this regard, it has not been adequately demonstrated that the burial ground will be adequately preserved in accordance with development plan policy," the authority said in a statement.

However, the council reversed the decision on appeal and granted permission for the project last month, with a number of conditions.

They include a provision that "no graves shall be disturbed" and an archaeological assessment is conducted to examine the "nature, extent and location of graves" and the "impact of the proposed development on graves".

But former Dublin City councillor Mary Fitzpatrick, who lives in the area, lodged a formal objection in October, saying: "The proposal to build any structure or car park on the graves of over 3,000 children is insensitive and disrespectful.

"Historical details of the burials on these lands show that it is the final resting place of infants and babies, many of whom died from neglect.

"These are largely forgotten children deprived of any dignity in life, buried in paupers' graves and should not be denied further dignity in death."

Yesterday she told the Herald: "It's deeply insensitive and insulting to any life."

Funeral director Alan Harmon expressed concern that relatives of the dead may still be living.

"It would be unrealistic, if not impossible, to contact the thousands of relatives of those buried in this area," he said.

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