DEAD people may soon be buried without coffins in graveyards across the country.
The Department of the Environment has confirmed to the Irish Independent that it is considering allowing uncoffined burials, which are used by Muslims. Currently, it is against the law to bury a dead person in a graveyard without a coffin.
The department said it was following similar changes made in Northern Ireland.
It added the opinions of local authorities across the country are being canvassed.
However, in recent years some local authorities including Galway, Clare and Louth county councils, have already designated areas in graveyards for Islamic burials where coffins are not used.
The department noted in their letter to local authorities that "Muslims are normally buried without a coffin if permitted by local law".
The proposed changes to the law would allow, but not insist, that local authorities set aside an area designated for uncoffined burials.
In Limerick City Council -- which has no designated area for Muslim burials -- there has been strong opposition from local politicians including Fine Gael councillor, Jim Long.
While acknowledging that it is a sensitive issue, Mr Long said the proposal would allow people of all faiths bury their deceased without coffins at local authority graveyards.
"You are going to have funeral expenses reduced without the price of a coffin. The nature of the beast in us is that people will use that facility.
"It is unimaginable. . . How do you shoulder your loved one into a church or to a graveyard?" he asked.