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That's Your Funeral; Turn up late at the graveside and you'll be fined.

CEMETERY bosses have come under fire for slapping fines on mourners who arrive late for funerals.

Slow-moving funeral parties are hit with an extra pounds 70 fee if they carry their loved one's coffin into Limerick city's graveyards past 12pm on Saturdays.

The corporation insists on charging grieving relatives the hefty fine even though the gravediggers don't clock off for another hour.

A spokesman for Crosses Funeral Home, said the charges shoot up if the bereaved miss the deadline.

"The charge goes up if they go in one or two minutes past 12 o'clock. It's terrible really. It's a very trying time for people and they are not exactly watching the time," he said.

"They have to be inside the gates before 12pm on a Saturday. The gravediggers are paid overtime if they have to stay on late in the afternoon and that's how they justify the charges.

"It's not a bit fair as people are already paying through the nose for funerals."

Grieving families fork out pounds 210 for the services of gravediggers in Mount St Oliver and Mount St Lawrence cemeteries on a weekday and pounds 275 for a Saturday burial.

If the coffin is carried into the cemetery after midday the charge goes up to a staggering pounds 345. Mourners who are further delayed past 2pm have to pay out an extra pounds 140.

Funeral Director, Gerry Griffin, said mourners are informed of the extra charges before the service takes place.

"The cemeteries charge extra if people arrive outside working hours because they have to pay their workers overtime.

"We do tell them that beforehand and if they are, unfortunately, late then they have to pay the charge."

The manager of the corporation's graveyards, Flan Hasket, said yesterday that the rule had been in force for years to make sure people arrive on time.

"People have a choice. The undertakers tell them that it costs extra if they arrive after 12," he said.

"The gravediggers come in for a half day on Saturday. They start at eight and finish at one o'clock.

"These men are very flexible and work every bank holiday except for Christmas day. There has to be some cut-off point."

But he said they look sympathetically on funeral parties who are just a few minutes late.

"If someone comes in five or ten minutes late then we will make allowances," Mr Hasket said.

"But people have a choice. If they decide to have mass before 10.30am then they will pay the normal internment figure.

"If people want to have their mass at a later time then they are told that the internment charge goes up. It's totally up to the individual."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 27, 1999
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