Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) supported the call for the establishment of a cemeteries regulator, saying it is necessary to ensure the bereaved are not paying over the odds to bury their deceased loved ones. Deputy Doherty was speaking during the Dáil debate on the Cemetery Management Bill 2013.
“Planning a funeral for a loved one can be one of the most challenging, emotionally draining and stressful occasions any of us will face. Bereaved individuals are in a vulnerable state, and I believe the law needs to be strengthened to protect their interests and make sure they are not ripped off due to a lack of competition in the management of cemeteries.
“Currently there are huge variations in the cost of a burial plots in different parts of the country. The increasing commercialisation of the funeral and burial industry has served the industry, rather than the bereaved. In some parts of Dublin, for example, the cost of opening a new grave costs in the region of €4,000, but it can be up to four times higher in other parts of the city. Why the discrepancy?
“The establishment of a cemeteries regulator will make the process fairer and more transparent.
Cemeteries will be awarded licences from the regulator with strict management obligations attached – for example, they must not engage in commercial activities other than interments at their own cemetery.
“The need for a regulator becomes all the more apparent if you consider the situation regarding the Glasnevin Trust, which controls a number of large cemeteries in Dublin. The group has charitable status but engages in commercial activities which ensure it has a monopoly over cemeteries in many parts of the city, and complete control over how much the bereaved are charged.
“Those seeking to bury their loved ones are suffering as a result of the lack of competition in the market. Under the proposed new legislation, cemetery authorities which engage in commercial activities will not be allowed to claim charitable status and the legal structure under which cemeteries operate will be modernised.
“It is my hope that this proposed legislation will make one of the most difficult times in our lives a little easier.”