A baby loss memorial garden will be created in Armagh after a group of bereaved parents approached Council about the idea last year.
The garden will be situated to the rear of the Palace Grounds.
The proposal was backed by councillors on the environment committee on Tuesday evening, however, Councillor Julie Flaherty, who herself has suffered the loss of a child, said she fully supported the proposal but stressed that a similar area – which has been talked about for a long time – be created and expedited in Tannaghmore Gardens.
Her proposal was also given the backing of the committee.
In a report to committee members, officers outlined how the parents are aware of memorial gardens in cemeteries and churches for such a purpose but have proposed an area that can be “attended by all denominations, races and creeds in an open and welcoming non-biased place”.
The report added that some parents and relatives of infant loss find it “overwhelming to attend cemeteries to remember loved ones and would wish to instead be able to go to an area of relaxation and be able to remember their lost loved ones in a family orientated, natural open space”.
Council officers identified an area in the rear of the Palace Grounds which had been proposed to be updated.
The group currently have no finances with which to support the development but “officers may be able to help them to become established and seek funding”.
Officers intend to work with the group to help them achieve this.
As an interim measure Council has proposed to carry out the initial development in house and create a base line area that may be enhanced through the use of sculpture and art at a later stage.
The initial development will require the removal of annual planting beds and the establishment of formal shrub beds with interest and sensory enhancements, clean the existing paths, place two summer seats looking onto a central area that has been designated for art in the future.
A sign will be erected marking the area as a baby loss memorial garden.
Councillors were told that officers can undertake the majority of the works in house and within existing budget.
Armagh SDLP Councillor, Gráinne O’Neill, welcomed the committee’s decision to create a baby loss memorial garden in the grounds of Palace Gardens and has praised local bereaved parents and charity trust ‘Little Forget Me Nots’ for their bravery and determination.
Said Councillor O’Neill: “I am so delighted that plans for a baby loss memorial garden have finally passed at local council. This is so much more than a garden, this is will be a safe space for bereaved parents and families to visit to remember their children and to heal.
“I feel honoured to have worked alongside local bereaved families and the Little forget me nots Trust to get this project across the line. It is their bravery and determination that has motivated me to work closely with Council officials to secure this space and funding.
“Over the next few weeks we will see some changes at Palace gardens, with benches being added, flowers planted and a memorial plaque erected in the area. I’m looking forward to working with Little Forget Me Nots in the coming months as we work to secure further funding to add a sculpture to the garden.”
Councillor Catherine Nelson said: “As well as approving a memorial space in the Palace Grounds in Armagh, we made further progress on our space in Tannaghmore Gardens. A site visit will take place in the coming weeks.
“We will not finalise any details without reaching out – including to Little Forget Me Nots Trust and those mummies and families who I know (and love) locally who we do this for.
“If you have experienced baby loss and have a thought or idea about how this should look or feel please drop me a message.”