Signage erected at Milltown Cemetery informing visitors that dogs are no longer permitted in the grounds

Signage erected in Milltown Cemetery informs visitors that dogs are not permitted in the grounds. Photo by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

New signs have been erected in a Catholic Church-owned cemetery in west Belfast warning visitors that dogs are not permitted in the grounds.

Only guide dogs are now permitted in the grounds of Milltown Cemetery which has had persistent problems of dog fouling

Previous signs in the cemetery suggested only that dogs had to be on leads.

The Catholic Church said yesterday that it had received "a number of complaints concerning dog fouling within the grounds of Milltown Cemetery over the past year".

Among those who complained was Claude Durand, from France, who visited the cemetery twice in November and later in December and January.

Mr Durand, who lives in Paris, told the Irish News that he was "quite surprised" at the number of people walking their dogs "in this consecrated ground."

"A kind of unusual sight as most countries do not allow dogs in cemeteries," he said.

"The simple reason is that it shows a lack of respect to our dead by letting dogs urinate and foul on graves. Is there any respect due to these individuals, some of which served and died for their countries?"

Mr Durand added: "I find this lack of respect for a consecrated ground revolting.

"The public with relatives buried in Milltown should be made aware of this shameful behaviour ..."

A spokesman for the Down and Connor diocese said yesterday that dog fouling "in a sacred burial ground insults the memory of those who are buried in these sites and is distressing and offensive to the families of the deceased.

"Dog owners have a social and legal responsibility to clean up dog faeces," he said.

"Such anti-social and irresponsible behaviour on the part of dog owners is both a health hazard and is profoundly disrespectful within a cemetery where families have buried loved ones".

The spokesman added: "No dogs, with the exception of guide dogs, are permitted within Milltown Cemetery," he said.

"Signage to this effect has been in place for some time.

"CCTV, monitored by a private security firm, is being introduced to increase surveillance within Milltown Cemetery to catch offenders and to pursue prosecution where evidence of anti-social behaviour and dog fouling is recorded.

"The management of the cemetery and the Diocese of Down and Connor will keep these matters under regular review".

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