Sinn Féin Cllr Cathal Foley has called on Kerry County Council to clamp down on dog owners who let their dogs roam in Rath Cemetery, after receiving calls from an ‘upset’ person complaining that a dog had defecated on a family member’s grave.
The motion was tabled at Monday’s meeting of Tralee Municipal District in relation to the control of dogs in what is a much-frequented cemetery in the town. Dogs are prohibited from graveyards under the Kerry County Council’s Bye Laws (2018).
“Some people take the up-keep of graves very seriously, and this is upsetting for a lot of people,” Cllr Foley explained, adding that public warnings through signage is not enough of a deterrent.
“Unless we start handing out and issuing fines, it is a waste of time,” Cllr Foley added. FF Cllr Johnnie Wall agreed with Cllr Foley’s sentiments that no dogs should be allowed roam in the graveyard. However, he called for an exception to be made for those walking their dogs who cannot walk them anywhere else.
“Unfortunately they do this because they can’t go anywhere, or they are not capable of going anywhere else,” Cllr Wall said. “The problem is how you provide for people walking there but clean up at the same time. For some people, this is the only place they can walk, and I can’t put a ban on them,” he added.
Cllr Sam Locke said the problem is ongoing for the past 25 years, ever since the formation of the Rath Graveyard Committee: “It’s disrespectful to leave a dog off the lead and let it run around the place,” Cllr Locke said.
“As Cllr Foley said, unless there is a deterrent there and someone is fined and prosecuted, then it’s not going to work. But you have this flippancy where people are arrogant going in there and letting dogs off the lead,” he added.
The Mayor of Tralee Cllr Terry O’Brien also supported Cllr Foley’s motion, saying it was about having respect for people. “Having respect is what it’s all about. It’s expected of people to pick up after their dog but I, too, am aware of another graveyard in town where the person brings in his two greyhounds and leaves them off. It’s about common sense and having a small bit of respect,” said Mayor of O’Brien.
In its reply, Kerry County Council said that its Dog Warden and MD Enforcement Officers carry out regular inspections to ensure compliance is adhered to. KCC gave assurance that it will request the Enforcement Officer to carry out increased inspections in the coming weeks.