New memorial to mark burial site for thousands of babies in Belfast City Cemetery

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A permanent memorial to mark the resting place of 7,160 babies who were stillborn or died shortly after birth was officially unveiled at Belfast’s City Cemetery yesterday.

It follows a consultation process with families who helped to shape the design of the memorial that is now in place at Plot Z1, also known as the ‘Baby Haven’.

Representatives of the families attended the unveiling and dedication service, alongside the memorial’s sculptor Charlotte Howarth.

Mayor of Belfast John Finucane who unveiled the memorial, said: “I trust that the families will consider this a fitting tribute for their loved ones who are buried here and this permanent memorial will ensure that these lives, however short, will always be remembered.”

Memorial Plot Z1 is an area in City Cemetery used for the burial of both babies and adults.

The babies buried there were stillborn or died shortly after birth, with the hospital or social services taking responsibility for their burial. The last burial in the plot was in 1996.

While the council holds records for all the babies buried within the plot, no one individual owns specific graves and therefore there are no individual headstones or memorials.

In 2015, following a request from William Humphrey MLA that a permanent memorial be placed at the plot, council undertook an engagement process with some of the families who had loved ones buried there, and agreed to provide funding of £50,000 towards the project.

Speaking on behalf of the families, Agnes Close said: “To finally see this beautiful memorial in place gives our babies the dignity of recognition, and also serves as acknowledgment of a loss suffered by so many.”