New rules may be enforced at the Dougher Graveyard

The Dougher Cemetery in a neglected state before a group of volunteers spent months fixing it up
The Dougher Cemetery in a neglected state before a group of volunteers spent months fixing it up

St Peter’s Parish Church has issued new rules in relation to what can and cannot be done to the Dougher Cemetery, it has been claimed.

Friends of the Dougher Cemetery stalwart Jim McIlmurray said the parish had sent letters to monumental sculptors in the Lurgan area.

Mr McIlmurray claimed the letter outlined what the sculptors can and cannot do in relation to the Victoria St cemetery.

The graveyard had been the subject of a contretemps between the parish administrator and some members of the Friends of Dougher Cemetery after a blessing event last month.

A local priest publicly admonished members of the group for not asking parish’s permission to erect monuments in the graveyard they had spent months sprucing up.

Fr Andrew McMahon wrote in two pages of the St Peter and St Paul’s Parish Bulletin castigating the group for erecting memorials without discussing it with the parish.

Fr McMahon, who is acting parish administrator in the absence of Monsignor Aidan Hamill, said that while he praised the group for cleaning up the Dougher, he wanted to ‘outline my concerns’ and ‘correct misconceptions’ about the Dougher event which took place recently.

Following the latest correspondence Mr McIlmurray said: “It is encouraging to see the parish will now be taking a more proactive approach concerning the cemetery after several decades of neglect.

“I note they make reference to common land within the cemetery. I can only imagine this to be the areas of vegetation and scrub recently discovered within the past six months.

“As many parishioners are aware, the areas between the plots which often amounts to little more than a few inches, can be problematic with weed infestation,” he said.

Mr McIlmurray claimed that the parish has issued new rules on the areas between plots.

“I can only presume that the condition of the main concreted pathways would also have been addressed.

“All of us would dearly like to see the pathways repaired or replaced and would embrace this.

“As I understand it, the duty of care is very complex, but in basic terms it is the standard by which one would expect to be treated whilst one is visiting an area open to the public as the Dougher is.

“Many visitors to the site have expressed concern regarding the condition of the pathways.

“I do hope the parish will publish these new guidelines in the forthcoming bulletin due to the greater understanding and public awareness of the cemetery which no doubt they will agree have increased recently,” said Mr McIlmurray.