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Families ready to fight ban on graveside toys

HUNDREDS of grieving families with loved ones buried in a South Dublin cemetery have been told to remove personal items from graves.

South Dublin County Council wrote letters to over 300 families informing them that the placing of memorials in Bohernabreena cemetery in Tallaght is prohibited.

The families were told that because Bohernabreena is a designated "lawn cemetery", items such as toys, wind chimes and flowers will be physically removed from plots later this month.

The decision has caused widespread anger among families, with loved ones today vowing to camp out in the cemetery to prevent the council from implementing the ban.

Laura O'Reilly, from Jobstown, told the Herald that the idea of council staff touching her son Stephen's grave is "devastating".

"Our family will never get over Stephen's death. But like so many others, we leave special items on his grave to keep him close to us.

"We've been maintaining Stephen's grave on a daily basis since we lost him and we want to be left in peace to grieve the heartbreaking loss of our child.

"There's no way on God's earth that anybody is touching Stephen's grave. We'll do whatever it takes to stop the council going ahead with this."

South Dublin County Council claims the policy of prohibiting the placing of items on plots dates back to 2004. However it admitted that it has up to now never been enforced.

And a tearful Keith and Samantha Walsh -- who buried their eight-month-old son Patrick last year -- said they weren't told of the policy when they purchased the plot.

"If we knew we couldn't leave effects on Patrick's grave, we would never have buried him here," Samantha said.

"We've lost our only son. Our lives have just been destroyed. But what they are threatening to do has left us heartbroken. He's our little boy and we should have the right to mourn his death in our own way."

A spokesperson for South Dublin County Council said that it intends to proceed with the plans.

"Obviously this is a very sensitive issue for people with loved ones buried in the graveyard and we certainly don't want to cause upset.

"However we intend to go ahead with our plans. We can't cut the grass and ensure the upkeep on the plots when there are personal items on the graves."

However, local Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe said that the plans will be met with "huge opposition".

"Personal items and family maintenance of the graves are not causing any harm to anyone," he said.

"The council needs to withdraw the threatening letters immediately and come up with creative solutions that would include allowing families to maintain their loved ones' graves because people won't stand for this."