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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

County Hall calls for restrictions on Cork families attending funerals to be eased

FAMILY members who recently suffered a heartbreaking loss have said the current restrictions around funeral numbers makes life very hard for the bereaved. 

They made the comments as Cork County Council decided to write to the Taoiseach to ask for a relaxation of the rules.

“You have a number of large families that can’t attend family funerals, it’s terrible, it’s going down very badly,” Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll said.

The granduncle of Cork girl Abi McGeough who was laid to rest recently after a long battle with illness, has said he would like to see the funeral restrictions relaxed in order for more people to have the chance to grieve properly.
Bobby Lynch didn’t get to be at Abi’s funeral, instead, giving up his place in the church for one of his sisters.

Mr Lynch said the current restrictions that only allowed 10 people to attend a funeral are “desperate” and “ridiculous”.

Abi’s aunt, Penny Dinners coordinator Caitriona Twomey, said that it can be very hard deciding who gets to attend funerals.

“Who decides who grieves the most?” Ms Twomey said.

She added that if 30 or 40 people were allowed in a church, then it would be a lot better.

At  a county council meeting held on Monday, Independent councillor Alan Coleman asked that the local authority support calls for the loosening of regulations.

“The request is when someone passes away their partner, children, parents, grandparents, sibling and siblings partners can attend the service,” Mr Coleman said.

At present, the HSE guidelines are that no more than 10 people should be in the place of worship or at the graveside together.

Mr Coleman said:“You cannot have a wake at home, you cannot have an open casket, and the use of condolences books are discouraged.”

Cllr Alan Coleman. Picture Denis Boyle
Cllr Alan Coleman. Picture Denis Boyle

The council are calling for all close family members to be allowed to attend a family funeral.

“I think it is a reasonable request and the public have been very good in adhering to the regulations introduced, but it is time this rather inhumane restriction was changed,” Mr Coleman said. “They are extremely restricted guidelines.

“You have the bizarre situation where close family members can’t attend a funeral because of the restrictions in place but you have large crowds gathering at crossroads as the funeral is passing.

“It’s quite ironic and I think it is inhumane and it is something that needs to be dealt with.

“I think that we as a council should support the call to loosen that restriction to allow for close family members to be allowed to attend a funeral.”

Mr Carroll said it was a genuine problem all over the county and he has seen it a number of times in Skibbereen.

“I have experienced it a number of times, where a grandparent might pass away,” he said.

“That grandparent might have 20 grandchildren and you are deciding who can go among them. It’s not right.”

Mr Carroll said family members should be exempt from the 10-person maximum guideline.

County mayor Ian Doyle also offered his support to the call and said that, with churches reopening, perhaps it could be feasible to have more people attending funerals.

 Cllr Ian Doyle.Pic. Brian Arthur
Cllr Ian Doyle.
Pic. Brian Arthur

“I would like to support the relaxation of measures,” he said.

“We have seen this week churches reopening.

“They were closed for a reason and we thank everyone for doing that, but I would certainly support a small bit of relaxation now.

“Most of the churches are social distancing marked so hopefully, we will get a relaxation of those measures.”

The council is now writing to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who signs off on the guidelines put together for the bereaved during the Covid-19 crisis.

Anyone planning a funeral or supporting someone grieving at the moment can get support through the Irish Hospice Foundation which can be contacted on 01-6793188.