The Government will not be accepting the Private Members’ Bill put forward by Deputy Tommy Broughan on the regulation of burial facilities.
Chief Whip Paul Keogh, who responded to the Bill in the absence of Environment Minister Phil Hogan, said the Government had serious concerns around the proposal to establish a regulatory authority on cost and resource grounds.
He said it would be wrong in the current environment to levy local authorities with an additional charge for a new authority.
They would be forced to pass them onto the consumer, he said.
Minister Keogh acknowledged that crematoria were not regulated, but he said they would be under existing environmental, planning and air pollution legislation.
The minister assured the House that the issues would be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Introducing the Bill regulate burial and cremations services, Deputy Broughan said - as the situation stands – it is possible for anyone to open and operate a crematorium without regulation.
He asked why the legislature found it unnecessary to regulate such a sensitive business; he said the UK had a regulatory regime since the early 1900s.
He accepted that people were sceptical about setting up a new regulatory authority.
Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the industry dealt with over €135m of revenue in any year; the average cost of a funeral is up to €5,000 and 30,000 burials take place annually.
He said the establishment of a regulatory authority would add to the cost of internment as it would have to be funded and that cost would inevitably pass onto the bereaved.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíll suggested local authorities expand their role of supervision in this area.
Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley said it was alarming that such regulation did not exist already.
However, he said the establishment of another “ministerial appointed quango” was not the way to go about it.
It would, Deputy Stanley said, inevitably add to the cost of burial or cremation.
Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan said it was vital that crematoria are regulated from an environmental viewpoint. She pointed out that they are a major source of mercury emissions from dental amalgam waste.