United against vandalism

A good crowd attended the first meeting of Friends of Shankill Graveyard
A good crowd attended the first meeting of Friends of Shankill Graveyard

All shades of political and community opinion united in horror at an upsurge in attacks at historic Shankill Graveyard during a public meeting.

A huge crowd attended the first meeting in Brownlow House of ‘The Friends of Shankill Graveyard’ aiming to encourage the council and community to help thwart the vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

The group wants the community to work together to protect, preserve and restore the town’s most historic Graveyard.

Recently the vandalism has been so severe some toppled headstones are beyong repair.

There was a short presentation on the history of the graveyard as well as presentations by council officials and the PSNI on how they plan to upgrade security..

They were informed of steps which needed to be taken to get official protection through the Historic Environment Division. There was also a report from an Building Conservation Surveyor on the steps needed to properly preserve the memorials.

Mr. James Brownlow, a descendant of the original Brownlow Family, whose Mausoleum is the only listed memorial in Shankill Graveyard, was alo present and supportive. Many at the meeting volunteered their services and vows to work together to help restore the cemetery.

Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said: “The friends of Shankill graveyard aim to preserve the historical graveyard and work with council and others to tackle the appalling vandalism that has happened in the graveyard.

“They also hope to develop the historic and tourism potential of the site. I look forward to working with the group.”

DUP Cllr Stephen Moutray described the meeting as ‘positive’.

“I believe we can eradicate this blight in such a lovely historic setting,” he said, paying tribute to the group. I believe that Council can carry out several actions that will help make this hidden jewel not only safer but more welcoming to those who wish to visit.

“As a councillor I will play a role in working with all to this end.”

To help check out Friends of Shankill Graveyard on Facebook.