Ulster Unionist Councillor Julie Flaherty is bidding to have the Children`s Funeral Fund introduced in Northern Ireland.
This fund was introduced in England following the intervention of Prime Minister Theresa May. Under the scheme, launched by the Prime Minister on the 1st April 2018, parents will no longer have to meet the costs of burials or cremations. Fees will be waived by all local authorities and met instead by government funding in England.
Julie lost her son Jake when he was only 2 years and 2 months old in 2013.
Councillor Flaherty said:
“I want to see the Children`s Funeral Fund implemented here in Northern Ireland – starting with my own Borough. Therefore, I proposed, that in line with England and Wales, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Council adopted this policy and if necessary write to the Permanent Secretary at Department for Communities, the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and Prime Minister Theresa May, to ensure that we as citizens receive the same benefits as those grieving parents in the rest of the UK.
“I am however, well aware, that because of the absence of a functioning Executive here in Northern Ireland, realistically I will be unable at present to achieve this aim. Last year, in the ABC Borough, 12 children under 18 were buried in our Council managed cemeteries and those grieving parents can face hundreds of pounds in council fees for burial or cremation costs.
“I have been in the unenviable position of losing a child and I know exactly what they face. I lost my own son, Jake when he was only 2 years and 2 months old in 2013. I know from bitter experience of the pain of loss and any gesture from those in authority, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated.
“Therefore I proposed that ABC Council set the marker for other councils in Northern Ireland by waiving, at this stage the cost of opening a grave only for those under 18yrs as a gesture of goodwill at a difficult time in any parents’ lives. I don’t believe this is too high a price to pay. I am delighted to say that my proposal received cross-party support and the backing of Council Officials. It`s a small but important start.
“I have spoken to Ulster Unionist colleagues and hope to bring forward similar motions in other council areas.”