Mother’s pain as vandals target child’s resting place

A burnt car at the City Cemetery
A burnt car at the City Cemetery

A grieving mother has said she has been considering moving the grave of her baby daughter following another anti-social incident at Londonderry’s City Cemetery in which a car was found burnt out several feet away from graves.

Gemma Bradley, whose daughter Lily-Rose was still-born in 2013 – having been diagnosed with Trisomy 18 – said she has made numerous representations to Derry City and Strabane District Council over the last year as incidents of anti-social behaviour and vandalism have increased at the cemetery.

Speaking to the Derry Journal, Ms Bradley said she had been having trouble sleeping as she was concerned about her daughter’s final resting place.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have contacted the council – but nothing ever gets done.

“I feel sick every time I visit Lily-Rose, especially after weekends – because you don’t know what you will find.”

Ms Bradley said people with “no respect for the dead” had been using the cemetery as a place to go drinking.

Broken bottles have been left lying on graves and floral tributes have been destroyed, she said.

“It is painful enough to have to go and visit your child in the cemetery.

“We would much prefer to have Lily-Rose with us, but to go and not know what you will find – that is devastating. We shouldn’t have to be afraid of visiting our daughter’s grave.”

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey has voiced his disgust at the recent act of vandalism.

He said: “There is palpable anger in the city following the disgraceful actions of these thoughtless thugs.

“The destruction of property is as pointless as the desecration of the sacred space of the cemetery.

“Is the sanctity of this peaceful place no longer respected by our young? This isn’t the first instance of vandalism occurring there in recent times. Have we no respect left for property or the dead?

“This car was burnt yards from where I have family and friends buried and I have been a regular visitor to where this car was found.

“I would thank the council workers for their efforts in tidying up, and of course our sympathies go to those whose car was destroyed.

“I find it disgraceful that some people find it acceptable to burn a car in the City Cemetery beside the graves of our loved ones.

“I would say shame on those responsible – they need to catch themselves on and get a life.”