Irish families in 'total limbo' over demands of undertakers in England

Irish families in 'total limbo' over demands of undertakers in England

CASH-strapped Irish families whose loved ones have died in England are being left in “total limbo” as undertakers refuse to release bodies until they get paid, a charity has claimed.

Grieving mothers and fathers are unable to bury their children for up to two weeks because of the unbending approach of British funeral homes, according to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

And some families are put under so much financial pressure that they have to consider cremating their loved ones just so they can afford to bring them home.

KRBT, which helps Irish families bring home bodies of loved ones from around the world, said the situation in England is not matched by Australia and the US.

“It is not unusual for us to have someone home from Australia or America more quickly than Britain,” said Collie Bell, the Trust’s founder.

“Families are being left in total limbo and it has a massive effect on them. It might be a day or a week or two weeks before they get the body back [from Britain] and they can do nothing.”

Since its creation in June 2013 following the death of Mr Bell’s son Kevin in a hit and run accident in New York, the Trust has helped 35 Irish families repatriate their loved ones.

Of those, 10 cases have involved loved ones who died in Britain, while 15 have come from the US and Australia.

Brian Agnew, who the Trust helped to repatriate his brother Paul following his death in London, said he had been shown “no sympathy” by undertakers in London.

“My family did not know what to do,” he added. “I did not have the money. My sister didn’t have it. My mother didn’t have it. And the funeral parlour was not going to release Paul until they had all their money.”

Damian Ruddy, a KRBT trustee, said it is common for Irish undertakers to take the ferry over to Britain just so that they can take the body home immediately after paying.

“It just seems to be an English thing that undertakers over there do not see the need that Irish people have to bury their loved ones as soon as possible after they die,” he added.