Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 13:44 UK

No atheist burials in Co Donegal

Walled City statue
Mr Greenslade's mother had to be buried in a cemetery in Derry

A Donegal atheist had to be buried in Londonderry because the county has no facilities for non-religious burials.

Journalist Roy Greenslade's mother was buried in Ballyowen cemetery in Derry on Tuesday after a humanist service.

He said he was told atheists could not be buried in Donegal because the graveyards are church-owned.

"Therefore unless one is willing to compromise one's beliefs by agreeing to a religious service, it is impossible to be buried," he said.

"There is a degree of black comedy about this, and my mother, who had a fantastic sense of humour, would certainly have laughed.

"When I rang up and asked Derry City Council's cemeteries department if it was possible to bury an atheist in a municipal cemetery they said it was possible because there were different sections for Catholics, Protestants and Muslims.

"My wife asked if it meant they were going to start an atheist section and the woman said, 'oh no, she can go in with the Protestants'."

A spokesperson from Donegal County Council said it is only responsible for old and unused graveyards.





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