GARDAÍ in Donegal are continuing to liaise with funeral directors in respect of attendance at funerals during Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
The emotive issue has raised its head a number of times since the Level 5 measures were returned in late December.
In January, Creeslough Parish Priest Fr John Joe Duffy issued an appeal for people not to congregate outside Churches at funerals.
The Level 5 guideline limit attendance to ten people and state: ‘Concerns are being raised regarding the dangers of dropping our guard at funerals when we are at this critical time in trying to level off the deadly curve.
‘Reports of significant numbers of people congregating in homes of bereaved persons and in funeral homes, or at churches and graveyards before or after services, are very concerning.’
Garda inspector David Durkin told the latest meeting of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee that there is an agreed protocol i place with the Irish Association of Funeral Directors.
Inspector Durkin said: “This isn’t a compulsory body for funeral directors to sign up to, but the vast majority are in. Funeral directors are aware of it.
“We have been asked at times to help. We are on hand to assist the public. On the other hand, we are aware of the natural tensions and emotions around funerals. We have to manage and do our best.”
Dr Anthony Breslin, the HSE’s Director of Public Health in the North West, who also spoke to the online meeting said that Covid-19 outbreaks associated with wakes and funerals had reduced.
“That was an issue,” Dr Breslin acknowledged. “You would still get the odd incident, but certainly this has reduced. Gardaí are helot to keep an eye on things.
“There have been cases of cross-border activity regarding funerals. There has been cooperation between the PSNI, An Garda Síochána and the two health services to identity and manage the situation.
“The risk is still there and we have to do what we have to do.”
Fr Duffy had touched on the traditional Irish custom of honouring the dead and consoling the bereaved.
Fr Duffy said: “It is plain to see that far too many are attending cemeteries and standing out and congregating far too close at arrivals and removals of remains at Churches. This beautiful and consoling custom is no longer safe for the bereaved families and for those attending.
“One of the many things that we are great at in this country at is being there for people in their pain and suffering and we truly are the best at that and showing respect for those who have died.
“I appreciate the long tradition it is to attend wakes, funeral Masses/services and burials and we have all known the comfort, goodness and kindness of those who have walked with us and stood with us on many sad days.
“This tradition/custom is for us a very important part of dealing with death and has been a tremendous comfort, consolation and strength.”Tags: