CITY Hall has moved to allay fears of vandalism and stealing from graves at Kilcully graveyard.
Numerous reports of gravestones being tampered with, items being broken or removed and chipped stone being stolen have emerged over recent days on social media at St Catherine’s cemetery.
However, Stephen Scully, of Cork City Council’s parks department has said only one official complaint has been logged by the local authority and staff are onsite Monday to Saturday until at least 4pm and CCTV is in operation.
Mr Scully has said he is aware of one incident where chipped stone was removed from a family plot but he understands that it is not a regular occurrence.
“That is an isolated incident. There is not a problem with vandalism at the cemetery. We had one report recently that 10 bags of chipped stone was removed from a family plot. That is regrettable but it is an isolated incident.
“We haven’t had any other complaints about any other vandalism at the cemetery and our staff are out there six days a week.
“We are quite happy there is no problem with vandalism there,” Mr Scully added.
However, Lisa Murphy, whose parents are both buried at a plot in the graveyard, said she has been left distressed by ornaments being removed and has been made to feel “sick” by her parents’ grave being walked on by strangers.
Ornamental angels laid by her mother on her husband’s grave before she passed away herself were removed and a candle holder was broken.
It is believed this occurred as chipped stone was being taken from the grave next to her family’s.
“It’s awful, there were angel figurines glued to the grave and they were removed. This is supposed to be a resting place but they can’t rest here,” said Ms Murphy.
“You are living with the pain of grief but when you see this, it’s so upsetting.”
Ms Murphy added she has contacted the council regarding the matter.
Councillor John Maher said the council may need to look at shutting the cemetery gates after dark but stressed incidents in recent days are not commonplace. He added stealing from graves should be reported to Garda at Anglesea Street.
Councillor Ken O’Flynn said he understands that chipped stone that is being removed from graveyards in bag loads and is being sold on.
“The culprits are loading up bags of the stuff laid by the families of deceased people and reselling them in loads.
“It’s extremely upsetting for people to see the graves of their family members desecrated and stolen from. These items might not cost much but are of great comfort to people.
“This type of behaviour is very upsetting and disturbing. The culprits must be caught and we must have a zero-tolerance behaviour to disrespect of the dead,” he added.
Councill Ted Tynan described the reports as “despicable”.
“You would have thought the final resting place of people was off-limits but this is very upsetting for families and very worrying,” he added.