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Widow chased for €250 a year after funeral

A DUBLIN council has been branded "shameful" and "insensitive" after approaching families to gather undertakers' debts for burial fees.

One widow was approached by Fingal County Council on the first anniversary of her late husband in August, said local Labour TD Brendan Ryan.

The council issued letters to grieving families informing them that the €250 interment fee for their loved one's burial remained unpaid.

But many of the families had already paid their funeral fees in full to their undertaker.

Mr Ryan told the Herald that receiving the "accusatory" letters had caused massive distress for families.

"A very distressed widow came to me having received a letter on the first anniversary of her husband's death, and she came to me in a very distressed state.

The letter took the line that Fingal County Council is currently reviewing records, and no interment fee has been paid, and that the amount owed is €250.







Scandal

"It said no further burials can be carried out unless the amount is paid. And this woman had an invoice to show that she had fully paid, so it didn't make sense to her.

"She was told to contact the undertakers to make sure the payment was made. This is a roundabout way of getting the money by Fingal County Council."

Mr Ryan described the threat to not allow further burials as an "absolute scandal".

"It's insensitive and shameful. They should issue apologies. I want it to stop, and I want Fingal County Council to write to everyone and issue an apology."

Fingal County Council said most undertakers co-operate with the council for the fees.

But it added: "In a small number of cases, the council has had to pursue undertakers for the non-payment of fees. In some cases, where the fees have not been paid for several years, this has resulted in legal action.

"In these cases, the council is concerned that the families of the deceased may not be aware that their undertaker has not paid the fees due on their behalf. The council is anxious to ensure that no difficulties arise in the future for these families.

"For this reason, the council decided to inform these families about the current situation."

hnews@herald.ie