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New bye-laws require you to seek permission to film in graveyards

Councillors debate filming and photography in graveyards


Clampdown on photography in graveyards.

Clampdown on photography in graveyards.

Clampdown on photography in graveyards.


The use of cameras and video recorders in cemeteries will be restricted to commercial operators under new bye-laws being prepared by Fingal County Council.

Current policy prohibits cameras and video recording devices at or near any grave before, during or after an internment. This will continue to be the case under proposed new bye-laws covering Fingal’s burial grounds, with some limited exceptions.

A meeting of the Balbriggan/Rush-Lusk/Swords Area Committee was told that still, cine, television or other recording devices should not be used to photograph mourners or any part of a funeral cortege within a cemetery.

However, the bye-laws will allow for the council to consider written applications for commercial filming or photography in a graveyard. This would permit the likes of historical documentaries to be filmed, for instance.

Cllr Cathal Boland (Ind) said he wondered if the council was making the right decision with regard to filming.

“It seems that if you engage a commercial operator you can have a funeral filmed, but people using an iPhone to record what is a very serious family event are denied this opportunity,” he stated.

“I’m conscious that in recent times people have started to make funerals very visual, with doves and balloons being released. Families are looking to capture those moments as part of their archive of memories.”

Cllr Ann Graves (SF) said the council needed to be conscious of the fact that there are still reduced numbers allowed to attend churches and graveyards for funerals.

“I’d be concerned if people couldn’t share such a sad occasion with family members who cannot attend a funeral simply because of the health emergency,” she told the meeting. “We don’t know how long this is going to go on for or what restrictions are going to look like in the future.”

Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) said he would support allowances being made for commercial companies and families wishing to share funerals, “as long as the criteria is met and it is done with due care”.

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Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF) said while he agreed that “a free-for-all” would create problems, a coordinated approach to filming could be arranged through the undertaker.

Cllr Joe Newman (Ind) believed it was “a waste of time” trying to prevent families from filming a burial.

Niamh Russell of Fingal County Council said that people’s GDPR rights were at the centre of the policy regarding the ban on filming in graveyards.

“We have to remember that these are public burial grounds and there may be other families there when a funeral is taking place,” she said. “It wouldn’t be fair on another grieving family to feel they are being filmed without their permission.”

She said commercial operators would have to apply for permission in writing, which would give the council complete control.

“Filming would be done outside of opening hours so it doesn’t infringe on any mourners’ GDPR rights or personal privacy,” she added.

The proposed burial ground bye-laws will now be subject to a public consultation process.