Northern Ireland news

‘Surge' in people from north using Cavan crematorium

Lakelands Funeral Home and Crematorium
Connla Young

RELATIVES who want to cremate their loved ones are travelling across the border due to increased demand in the north’s only crematorium.

The owner of a Co Cavan based Lakelands Funeral Home and Crematorium last night said there has been a “surge” in cremations in recent months.

Declan Finnegan said people from the north are opting to travel south due to increased demand at Roselawn crematorium in Belfast, which is owned by Belfast City Council.

“The covid rate has increased dramatically but our numbers coming from Northern Ireland apart from that have increased in the last 12 months,” he said.

“There has been a surge in December and January due to Covid but our numbers were away up despite that.

“Last April and March we were very busy with covid.”

He believes lack of availability for cremations in the north has been responsible for business being redirected.

“We are flexible and we have more slots available than Belfast,” he said.

“Belfast is very busy at the moment and we are able to cater for a lot more people than Belfast.”

Mr Finnegan, who opened his business in 2015, said there was a growing demand for cremations as an alternative to traditional burial.

The crematorium can cater for religious or civil celebrations which can be accessed via webcam.

In recent years planning permission has been granted for crematorium proposals in Moira, Newtownabbey and Omagh, but so far none of the projects have come to fruition.

One major hold-up is the existing legislation, which precludes private sector companies from operating crematoria here – something that is commonplace in the rest of the UK.

There is also confusion over whether the current rules permit any local authority, other than Belfast City Council, to operate a crematorium.

A spokesman for Belfast City Council said: “As per winter predictions, we are currently dealing with a high level of requests for cremations at the City of Belfast Crematorium.

"To support the increased demand, we have initiated some additional booking slots outside our normal operational hours and there are still slots available on most days."

The spokesman said service is being reviewed.

“Last year, we redeployed and trained staff to assist the crematorium technicians and have created three separate teams operating on a rotating shift pattern," he said.

“This has allowed us to increase the number of available cremation slots per week, and create flexibility within the service to move to an increased number of cremations should demand increase.”

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