Call for space to allow grieving parents to remember lost babies

A Portadown councillor has called for a special commemorative space for those who have lost a baby to be created within the borough.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 12:17 pm
Councillor Julie Flaherty. Picture Matt Mackey/Press Eye.

Speaking at a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s leisure and community services committee, Councillor Julie Flaherty brought the proposal to members attention.

Thanking council officers for lighting council’s civic buildings pink and blue for baby loss awareness week, the Ulster Unionist representative reminded the chamber that the death of a baby is not a rare event.

“It can happen to anyone – one in four – you just never think it will happen to you,” said Cllr Flaherty who lost her two-year-old son Jake in 2013.

“The silence and stigma that prevails around the subject of baby loss has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Those of us who have been through  this, think of all of our babies everyday.

“I wish to bring members’ attention to a little project that some parents have raised with me.”

Councillor Flaherty explained she had already discussed the idea with council officers and told the committee how one family had come to her following the loss of a child seeking a space in the borough to sit and reflect.

“One family in particular came to me following the loss of a little twin regarding a special commemorative space in our borough,” said Cllr Flaherty.

“It would be a space where bereaved parents can sit and reflect and somewhere that other people could go and count their blessings.

“That same little family have just had their rainbow baby and I send them a hundred million congratulations on their new daughter.”

Cllr Flaherty also spoke of the numerous issues that bereaved parents are still forced to endure and her determination to ensure they are tackled.

“There are a number of other issues around child loss and bereavement that still need addressed,” said Cllr Flaherty.

“There are parents who struggle to obtain a birth certificate,” said Cllr Flaherty. “We are still waiting for parental bereavement leave and pay and of course, we are still awaiting the children’s funeral fund.

“These are things that all weigh heavy on many of these parents’ minds.

“I am very lucky in ways, I know that sounds strange to say, but I do have a grave to visit and I remember all my babies there. Many don’t have that and such a space within the borough will be a comfort to many.”

Cllr Flaherty then thanked officers for their time and attention with regards to this matter.

“The officers have been amazing with me and the family and other families,” said Cllr Flaherty.

“I would request that a paper on this issue is brought to the November committee meeting in order to progress it.”

The committee’s Chair, Councillor Catherine Nelson, said she was “happy to second this proposal for and with” Cllr Flaherty.

Following this, Council’s head of estates and asset management, Jonathan Hayes said he would “take it as a personal undertaking” to ensure the report is brought to the November committee meeting for members attention.

Adam Morton , Local Democracy Reporting Service