Alliance East Belfast Councillor Sian O’Neill has called for refugee and asylum seeker children to be included in a scheme which will see funeral charges waived for anyone under 18 in Belfast.
Councillor O’Neill was speaking after a meeting of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Cemeteries and Crematorium Working Group, at which a paper was presented in relation to a recent Council motion about children’s funeral charges.
While the group unanimously backed the motion to waive cremation costs for anyone under 18 across Northern Ireland and funeral costs for anyone under 18 in Belfast, Councillor O’Neill said it was vital refugee and asylum seeker children were included.
“The loss of a child transcends all political levels and I am thankful to the courageous campaigning of Councillor Julie Flaherty, the current Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, who has led the way on this issue,” said Councillor O’Neill.
“There are currently no official figures but organisations working with asylum seekers would estimate there are less than two deaths of asylum seeker babies or children each year in Northern Ireland. Still, we need to ensure their inclusion in this scheme.
“I therefore put forward a proposal to make sure any child who calls Belfast their home be provided for in the devastating situation of their passing. It is the very least we can do for parents who have already suffered so much.
“That will now go before the People and Communities Committee ahead of its hopeful ratification at the full Council meeting. It means any parent in Belfast who has to experience the tragic loss of their child, no matter their background, should not have to worry about the financial implications at such a terrible time.”