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'Burials without coffins' could save families money

The Department of the Environment announced rule changes today to facilitate the increase in Muslim burials.

Image: Wooden coffin at a graveyard via shutterstock

NEW REGULATIONS ALLOWING burials without coffins could signal an end of expensive funerals for grief-stricken families.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan yesterday announced the changes which will allow ‘un-coffined’ funerals from the beginning of next month.

The new rules have been introduced to help facilitate the growing number of Muslim funerals, where the body is generally buried without a coffin.

However, the regulations do not apply just to Muslims and from 1 June anyone can be buried without a coffin.

Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland spokesman, Dr Ali Selim, believes non-Muslim families will also take advantage of the new rules to save money on funeral arrangements.

“I think secular people will definitely avail of it,” Dr Selim said. “The funeral directors will not be happy with this. The family of the deceased have already been saddened by the death – all these expenses are not needed at all.”

He added: “What benefit does a dead person get from an expensive marble head stone put on his grave? It doesn’t help them at all.

“If someone left children behind their money should go to their children. It would be far better than making all these unneeded expenses in a way that does not benefit the deceased person.”

What the funeral directors are saying

Fanagans funeral director Gus Nichols said his business offers coffins ranging in price from €500 to €3,500 but pointed out his company offers mourners a wide variety of additional services.

“Funerals are changing everyday – whether its eco-funerals or a four-day funeral,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“We have always adapted to what people want and the coffin is a tiny part of the service we provide.”

The Burial Ground Regulations date from 1888 and strictly state no burials could occur “unless the body be enclosed in a coffin of wood or some other sufficiently strong material”.

Under the new amendment, local authorities will allocate areas for burials without coffins but cemeteries are free to opt out of offering the service.

The Department of the Environment will also be able to overrule any burials which they feel could be a health risk to the public or potentially cause environmental problems such as contaminating local water sources.

The new rules follow consultation between the Environmental Protection Agency, HSE and the City and County Manager’s Association.

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