A LOCAL authority that is fast running out of grave spaces is being forced to advertise for land for a cemetery – but warned it will not be paying "silly prices" to landowners.
Killarney Town Council, Co Kerry, has spent the last 20 years attempting to acquire new ground but has been accused by one councillor of "dragging its heels" on the matter.
A spokesman for the council said: "We're dealing with public money and we have a duty to use that sensibly.
"There may be an impression by some people that because we're looking for land we'll pay whatever it takes.
"We're not looking for land on the cheap, but because it's the council there seems to be a perception that it doesn't matter what price you charge, we'll pay it."
The spokesman stressed there were still "plenty of spaces" in council-owned graveyards in Killarney and its hinterland.
A grave space in the council-owned cemetery, which is now full, costs just €425, compared with more than four times that amount for a double plot in the privately owned Aghadoe lawn cemetery, overlooking the lakes of Killarney.
Independent councillor Donal Grady accused the council of "dragging its heels" on acquiring land for a new graveyard, a process that has been ongoing for more than 20 years.
He has called on the council to immediately enter negotiations with the owners of the private cemetery.
"We raised money for a new graveyard and a playground from levies and that money is sitting there but the council has been dragging its heels for the last three years," Mr Grady said.
Killarney Town Council said it is still awaiting a response from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in relation to its proposal for a land swap.
The council has proposed swapping land it owns at an old water treatment plant for ground in the Muckross area to develop a burial site.
However, there has been opposition from environmental groups to a burial ground within Killarney National Park.
The NPWS said it is still awaiting direction from the Attorney General on the matter.