A NEWTOWNABBEY man has started a petition urging the council to bin proposals to build a cemetery beside the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice at Valley Park.
Derek McCabry has said plans by Newtownabbey Borough Council to build an 18-acre cemetery (see map inset) within the O’Neill road site beside the Children’s Hospice are “morally wrong”.
A regular user of the park, the 53-year-old father and grandfather has urged people to sign his petition.
He said: “I am not usually one to be a dissenter, but I heard about these proposals and just thought it was morally wrong. I know what it feels like to lose a child, although not to cancer, but I have been through the whole gamut of emotions and this plan touched a nerve with me.
“I was shocked to hear the council were considering using part of the park as a cemetery. The Children’s Hospice is a fantastic facility and the park a great accompaniment to it. The park is used by those who are patients in the Hospice and I think any move to put a cemetery in place beside the building and in view of it is totally inappropriate and insensitive - not just for patients in the Hospice, but also their parents and carers.”
Mr McCabry described the park as a “special place” and said: “It is a great place to go and reflect and you can get away from life’s problems, if just for a little while.
“It really is a peaceful and reflective place and has its own aura which makes it a special place.”
Newtownabbey Borough Council is considering the park as a location for a new burial site because of a lack of space in Carnmoney Cemetery - however, the borough does have 10 years of space across other council sites.
At last month’s Policy and Governance Committee meeting, 18 councillors voted in favour of the council spending £90,000 on consultants to draw up the cemetery proposals. Two members voted against the plan and one abstained.
Officials from the council have met representatives from the Children’s Hospice about the proposals and been asked by them to seek out alternative sites.
The council has said it “fully understands” the concerns of the Hospice and will continue to work with them to explore “all options for a cemetery in the park”.
To support Derek’s petition meanwhile, go to www.change.org/petitions and search for ‘Stop the super-cemetery at Valley Park’.