PUBLIC opposition to the building of a cemetery next to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in Glengormley has forced Newtownabbey Borough Council to extend its search for a new grave site in the borough.
At Monday night’s monthly council meeting, councillors approved adverts to be placed in the Press to see if local property owners would be willing to sell off land for a new cemetery.
The councillors also approved a number of additional test digs to be carried out in parts of the Valley Park that were not initially identified in a plan presented to members in June.
As well as carrying out test digs to examine the possibility of locating a cemetery on land at Ballyearl, councillors also raised the possibility of approaching Invest NI about using its vacant Global Point site at Corr’s Corner.
The council has been searching for potential new cemetery sites for the past 20 years. And because of the decreasing amount of space in Carnmoney Cemetery, the local authority may only have enough space to accommodate burials for the next six years if a site is not found.
In June councillors approved spending £90,000 on bringing in consultants to examine the suitability of land at the Valley Park, and to draw up plans for an 18-acre cemetery on the site beside Horizon House.
In the aftermath of the decision a petition urging the council to reconsider the plan has gathered over 6,000 signatures from people across Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, Britain and beyond.
Petition organiser Derek McCabrey said it was “morally wrong” to site a cemetery beside the Hospice. And the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice urged the council to look for alternative sites. It’s Chief Executive said a cemetery beside its facility would “considerably impact on hospice services.”
At Monday’s meeting, councillors and officials stressed that no decision has been made on the site identified in the Valley Park for the potential new cemetery.
Chief Executive Jacqui Dixon said the latest options were being considered in light of the “petition, the publicity and contact councillors have had from their constituents.”
However, councillor Robert Hill opposed the additional test digs on new sites.
He said: “We have scoured the borough from top to bottom. This council has been searching for suitable sites since 1992. What makes a site that was not suitable a year or two ago different now? There seems to be an awful waste of money here.”
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