A popular Glengormley playpark that neighbours the Children’s Hospice could be converted into a graveyard after initial discussions between local councillors this week.

The Valley Park on the O’Neill Road was one of three potential sites discussed by Newtownabbey councillors at the Policy and Governance meeting on Monday (October 24).

Graveyard provision at Carnmoney Cemetery is limited, with an estimated two years left before it is at full capacity. Councillors are exploring other sites in Doagh and Ballyclare.

Alliance Party Councillor John Blair said he will strongly oppose any potential cemetery move to Valley Park.

“My argument is that there would be a loss of recreational space in Glengormley,” he said.

“Many, many people use the Valley Park to walk, to play football, to jog. And in an era where we are trying to get people active it is an absolute contradiction to think about putting the cemetery there.

“Also, it is right below the window of the Children’s Hospice and I don’t know how I would feel if I had a child there.”

He said Ballyclare is a better option.

“There are about two years left at Carnmoney but if you consider using the cemetery at Ballyclare there are ten years left there.

“I accept that a cemetery for a loved one needs to be nearby, but it is no further than someone from the other side of Belfast having to travel across to Roselawn.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry O’Reilly said discussions are at an early stage and that all options need to be considered.  “Nothing has been decided yet,” he added.

“The Valley Park isn’t the only site being looked and a consultant is being brought in to look at all the sites. We will be running out of space in the coming years and this matter needs to be addressed with some urgency. But we have to look at cost, expenditure and value for money.”

The cemetery discussions will go on at the monthly meeting of Council on Tuesday next.