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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020
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24-hour security for Cork cemetery after thousands in damage caused to graves

Gardaí are investigating the incident in which 20 headstones were knocked off their plinths.

File photo of a graveyard.
File photo of a graveyard.
Image: Shutterstock/bibiphoto

24-HOUR SECURITY has been put in place at a cemetery in Cork after vandals caused thousands of euros worth of damage to graves, knocking 20 headstones off their plinths and smashing statues.

Cork City Council has ramped up security at the cemetery for the foreseeable future with around the clock patrols now in place. 

Laura Donovan from Fair Hill in Cork city has a mother, two brothers and a sister buried at St Catherine’s Cemetery in Kilcully.

She found out that that the family plot, which is the final resting place of her siblings Roy and Denis and her mother Liz, was damaged after she spotted pictures of the vandalism on Facebook. 

“We are still very much in shock. My 80-year-old dad is is not sleeping. The grave is destroyed,” she said. 

“I went to the graveyard and it was overwhelming the number of people standing around graves (looking at the damage).

The grave of my sister was not damaged. The grave with my mother and brothers was. One brother was 24 when he died. And the other was 41. 

“I found out [about the vandalism] from Facebook. I was scanning pictures [of the damage] and noticed my family name. That was the first I knew. 

“When I zoomed in I saw it was our own. It was a new headstone we got just a year ago.”

A spokesperson for Cork City Council said that the issue is being investigated by gardaí and efforts are being made to prevent further damage. 

“A number of headstones were knocked off their plinths (approx. 20) and minor damage caused to some small statues. There are a few thousand headstones in the cemetery and thankfully the vast majority were not touched. We have a fixed security presence on site for the foreseeable future.”

Local Sinn Féin councillor, Thomas Gould, said that he has never seen vandalism of this scale at a cemetery in Cork. 

“We have had vandalism over the years but nothing like this. This was very vicious and nasty and whoever did this is without a moral compass,” said Gould. 

“There is a substantial cost involved for families in replacing these headstones. It also happened over a very emotional time for families during the Christmas and New Year period. 

“We have to look in to putting CCTV footage in the graveyard itself. It is shocking to see headstones knocked over and smashed and ornaments damaged.”

The damage at the graveyard was first noticed last Friday. There is no known motive for the vandalism. 

A public meeting on the vandalism is set to take place next Saturday at 2pm in the Commons Inn in Cork city.

A large numbers of callers have contacted Cork’s 96FM and Red FM to discuss their concerns about anti-social behaviour at the cemetery. 

Gardaí have begun examining CCTV footage from the car park of the graveyard in a bid to track down the identity of the culprits. 

Empty vodka and beer bottles were found dumped at the graves. 

Gardaí have appealed to anyone who noticed suspicious activity in St Catherine’s Graveyard in recent days to contact them at Mayfield Garda Station on 021 4558510.

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Olivia Kelleher

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