Why are we charging more for Muslim graves?
CONTROVERSY has erupted over a move to increase the cost of Islamic grave spaces in south Dublin by twice as much as plots for Christians.
Councillors have called for a reversal of the decision to raise the cost of funeral plots for Muslims by 100pc, compared to a 50pc price hike for non-Islamic spaces.
South Dublin County Council has defended the move, saying it is in line with a 20-year agreement with the Muslim community. The council is due to meet with the Islamic Foundation of Ireland to discuss the issue.
Councillors passed a motion at their monthly meeting calling for the increase to be cancelled immediately. Tabling the motion, Cllr John Hannon (FF) said it was in the interest of the council's policy of "inclusivity and equality".
The increase for Islamic grave spaces is 100pc, compared to revised increases of 50pc that have been introduced for non-Islamic graves.
"The disproportionate increase in the cost of Islamic grave spaces should be cancelled with immediate effect," Cllr Hannon said.
"I think this particular decision to increase the cost of grave spaces for one section of the community at a disproportionate level is simply wrong."
He said a grave space for Muslim children in Newcastle Cemetery was €760, while it was just €100 for non-Muslims.
"I think there is something fundamentally wrong with that," he said.
"Staff in Environmental Services Department met representatives from the Islamic Foundation of Ireland in late December 2011 regarding the Islamic Burial Spaces in Newcastle Cemetery and the charges for same," a council spokesperson stated in a written response.
"A further meeting has been arranged for early January 2012 to resolve issues raised by the Foundation at this meeting. It should be noted that the charges being applied are in line with agreements in place with the Islamic Foundation."
Cllr John Lahart (FF) said he thought the motion was worthy of a more substantial response. He felt the reply was "silent on a lot of issues".
He said there should be an across-the-board charge at a municipal graveyard and that anything else was "just wrong" and that the council "couldn't stand over" it.
"You need to get your ducks in a row on this," he said. "It sends out the wrong signal."
Cllr Cathal King (SF) said while the cost for Islamic families might have risen by more the actual cost of a burial plot for them was less than for non-Muslims. Cllr Chris Bond (Lab) said members of the Islamic community had been disappointed with the increase.