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Special meeting called as issues with toilets, thefts, footpaths and trees persist at Portlaoise cemetery

St Peter and Paul's Cemetery Portlaoise
St Peter and Paul's Cemetery Portlaoise

A special meeting between Portlaoise County Councillors, Council officials and members of the Portlaoise Cemetery committee is to be organised to tackle a range of problems.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal, it was heard how problems with toilets, thefts, footpaths and trees are ongoing.

Three Councillors, Noel Tuohy, Catherine Fitzgerald and Thomasina Connell, all put down motions in relation to the cemetery.

The discussion began as Councillor Tuohy called for the public toilets to be refurbished and made fit for use.

He said: “It is ridiculous that we have toilets that are not open – particularly during funerals.

“They are badly needed by all – especially older people.”

In response, Engineer Ken Morely said: “Laois County Council has undertaken an inspection of the toilets.

“It has been agreed that a scope of refurbishments are required which will facilitate the reopening of the toilets by the committee.”

While Councillors were happy with this reply, the discussion about the cemetery did not finish there.

Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley said that an elderly couple who were attacked in 2020 by a man with a knife when driving out of the cemetery, are still too fearful to return to the cemetery alone.

She said: “They were held for ransom and forced to drive the person in their car. That family never recovered, their family have to go with them to see their loved one’s grave.

“I have never seen anything like it in the last 12 months, with personal memorabilia being robbed. It’s disgusting behaviour and it’s caused huge upset.

“I have asked the council to consider CCTV because that’s what the people want.

“We need to sit with the council director, the committee and the Gardaí and put a plan in place.”

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said that the foothpaths are in a bad state and that funding was required for improvement works.

She also spoke about the trees that have been cut down at the back of the cemetery that leave the area very open and inquired if anything could be done about that.

She said: “Issues at the cemetery have been ongoing over the last couple of years.

“Unfortunately over Christmas we were back to the same thing, people stealing flowerpots. It’s very upsetting for people.”

Cllr Willie Aird said there are other problems with waste flowers being left beside a path and taps not working.

He said: “That is vandalism, wringing off the heads off the taps.

“Catherine is right that a ditch was taken out and palisade fencing put up, we need to screen that off.

“This is our responsibility in Laois County Council. All the graves are kept very well and great work is done by Tommy for the good of the cemetery.”

Director of Services Simon Walton agreed to arrange a meeting with all parties before the next Council meeting in February.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.