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Cremations must be regulated to avoid criminal misuse, TD says

Tommy Broughan said new laws would help avoid tragedies like the Harold Shipman murders in the UK – where it was alleged cremation helped the killer conceal his crimes.

File photo inside a crematorium in the Netherlands
File photo inside a crematorium in the Netherlands
Image: PETER DEJONG/AP/Press Association Images

CREMATIONS COULD POTENTIALLY be used to dispose of the evidence of serious crimes – and tighter regulation in the sector is needed to avoid this becoming a possibility, according to an independent TD.

Tommy Broughan said there are currently no regulations of any kind relating to cremation in Ireland, and a central authority and standardised procedures are needed to make sure that unscrupulous individuals cannot exploit this. Broughan told TheJournal.ie:

The concern about cremation is that the whole process of treating human remains, there are some very serious issues – say if someone has died unexpectedly, or there’s a suspicion of foul play.

After the conviction of Dr Harold Shipman, Britain’s most prolific mass murderer, it was suggested that he might not have got away killing as many as 250 people if cremation had been more tightly regulated.

He persuaded many of his victims’ families to opt for cremation. The killings forced the UK government to overhaul its own cremation regulations, Wales Online reported at the time.

Broughan, who has tabled a private member’s bill setting out proposals for a Cremation Regulatory Authority, said he had been approached by the Glasnevin Trust who were concerned about the lack of regulation.

“I would hope the Government would fairly quickly bring in legislation in relation to regulating crematoria,” he said.

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Michael Freeman

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