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Durcan calls for Castlebar Muslim graveyard

Calls for Castlebar Muslim graveyard

Áine Ryan

COUNTY town, Castlebar, needs a dedicated cemetery to facilitate its growing Muslim population, according to outspoken Independent Cllr Frank Durcan. He told last week’s area committee meeting that with 250 Muslims now living in the town it was time to consider a separate graveyard for them.  
However his colleague, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, who is an Undertaker, told The Mayo News yesterday that the Muslim population is not big enough to justify a separate cemetery, particularly when there is already one in Ballyhaunis. 
Clarifying the protocols used at the town’s interdenominational graveyard, Cllr Kilcoyne said: “The cemetery here is run by Castlebar Town Council and it takes people of any religion, or no religion. While some Muslims are buried in a coffin there is a cemetery in Kerry that will take people without a coffin,” Cllr Kilcoyne said.
He explained that all graveyards in the west of Ireland conformed to Department of Environment guidelines stipulating that burials must take place in enclosed coffins for health and safety reasons.
“Many of Castlebar’s Muslim residents are transient and are often working temporarily as doctors in Mayo General Hospital. Anyway, there are lots of other religions represented in the town. So would Buddhists, Hindus and Sihks not want separate facilities also?” Cllr Kilcoyne observed.
Speaking to The Mayo News also yesterday, Sinn Féin Cllr  Thérèse Ruane confirmed she had also been approached about the matter.
“My understanding is that the Muslim community would be happy with a separate section adjoining the existing cemetery. According to the families the Muslim population of Castlebar is growing but since the graveyard is non-denominational, perhaps they are already facilitated, “ Cllr Ruane said.
At present there are Muslim 40,000 Muslims living in the State with dedicated cemeteries in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Ballyhaunis. Deceased Muslims are usually laid in graves in a shroud, on his or her right side facing Mecca.

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