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Gardai tell mourners: Drive, don’t walk  16.09.08

By Damian Dowds, Inishowen Independent

AN instruction from the Garda Traffic Corps that mourners attending funerals at Burt Chapel can no longer walk from St Aengus’ Church to the local graveyard has caused anger and resentment among parishioners in the area.
After attending Requiem Mass at Burt, mourners regularly walk behind the hearse to the local graveyard less than a mile away along the N13, a national primary route. This has on occasion caused tailbacks towards Bridgend for traffic coming from Derry, while traffic coming from Letterkenny flows as normal.
Parish records suggest there are approximately a dozen funerals a year at Burt, and locals were at pains to point out that mourners to not walk to the graveyard after every single funeral.
A letter from the Garda Traffic Corps read out at Masses in Burt at the weekend said that health and safety considerations were behind the decision to stop the practice, but locals rejected the reasoning.
The funeral cortage of Isabel Taylor on its way from Burt chapel to the cemetery. “This ruling is a disgrace,” said local woman Catherine Campbell. “The graveyard was opened in Burt 63 years ago and people have always walked to it. There has never been an accident of any sort. If people want to walk with their dead they should be allowed to do so. What’s next? Are they going to ban people from 
walking from the Oratory in Buncrana to Cockhill Cemetery?”
“I was dismayed and saddened at the latest rule to be imposed on our community,” said Kathleen Grant, a local resident. “The Irish way of life is slowly being eroded by bureaucracy. It’s a sad day when we are not given the time to bury our dead.”
Pointing out that there is very limited parking at the graveyard, Grant also suggested that forcing mourners to drive rather than walk from the chapel was more dangerous to the public safety. “Cars will be pulling off haphazardly from the Chapel and there’s no parking for them at the graveyard.”
Local curate Fr Michael Porter was on holiday yesterday and unavailable for comment. Parish priest Fr Neil McGoldrick did not wish to comment on the affair, saying it was a matter for the Gardai.
The first funeral to take place since the new restrictions were put in place, that of Isobel Taylor of Carnamaddy, Burt, took place yesterday morning. No one walked in the cortege from the Chapel to the graveyard as mourners observed the new restrictions.
“It’s terrible,” said Carmel McDermott, a local woman and friend of the deceased. “Isobel never had a car in her life, but neither her family nor her neighbours got the chance to walk with her on her final journey.”
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