A COUPLE who lost their eight-year-old son a year ago have described Fermanagh and Omagh District Council as ‘heartless’ after they rejected an application to erect a specially designed headstone on their son Shayne’s grave at Cross Cemetery in Enniskillen.
Parents, Damian Lynch and Teresa Magee, from Cooltrain, Coa, are adamant that the headstone which was specially designed and made in the United States, is based on the rules set out in the Cross Cemetery rulebook.
The headstone depicts a rainbow and a dove.
Damian Lynch explained that they had a headstone created based on the rule book size wise and everything for Shayne.
“Two weeks ago we put through the official application form to the council. The headstone was based on an egg shape. “The council official in Killyvilly depot said there was too much colour on the headstone and colour is not allowed on headstones,” he said.
Teresa, Shayne’s mum, explained that they had dealt with the council before the headstone was made and they were aware that there was going to be a colour pattern. She said the council official told them that would be OK.
“We didn’t get that in writing, it was just word of mouth. So we went ahead and got the headstone made and it is coming over from America now,” she said.
But since then the council has rejected the application and in a statement gave its reasoning.
It’s short statement read, “The rules and regulations for the operation and management of Cross Cemetery state that it is necessary for the council to ensure that the size and type of memorials within Cross Cemetery are appropriate.
“An application to erect a headstone was received in late August, and Mr Lynch was advised that his application did not meet the criteria due to the colour scheme of the stone rainbow. The predominance of the colour scheme of the stone rainbow is out of keeping with other headstones in this cemetery.
“The Council remains willing to liaise with the family and stonemason to help to amend the design to be in line with cemetery guidance. It is hoped that any early meeting will help to bring the matter to a satisfactory resolution.”
However, Mr Lynch and his partner claim that they were told that if the headstone was allowed to go ahead that council would be inundated with complaints from other users of the graveyard.
But Teresa explained that they had spoken to other families who use Cross Cemetery and shared their proposed headstone on social media and haven’t had one negative comment from anyone.
“Owners of plots of graves that are beside us have sent us messages saying they are mystified by the council statement. They wouldn’t be upset or offended by seeing colour on a child’s grave,” said Damian. “We have support from all the political parties who have taken on our case. They are horrified at how the case has been handled and the reasoning behind it.”
“Since the issue has gone public several families wo have loved ones buried in Cross have expressed their disbelief and have expressed their support for our cause.
“At this stage I’m dumfounded and shocked by the lack of empathy shown, but I have still tried to agree a compromise by showing williingness to reduce the colours from six to three and reduce the area that was to be covered. But when I met with council official I was told the application was rejected because ‘no colour’ was allowed on the headstone. But when I asked to be shown the rule the official stated that ‘all headstones must be approved by the council’,” said Damian.
He adds that he expects common sense to prevail and that a headstone that represents his son’s colourful life be placed on his grave. He feels totally let down by the system and is to meet with another council official this week.
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