Kinnegar Barracks April 2019 CREDIT GOOGLE MAPS.png

Coronavirus: Army Base Set To Be Used As Temporary Mortuary

It comes amid fears that Northern Ireland's funeral system could be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kinnegar Barracks April 2019 CREDIT GOOGLE MAPS.png

A British Army base in County Down is set to be used as a temporary mortuary for victims of COVID-19.

Northern Ireland's Department of Justice has approached the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with a request to use a large building at the Kinnegar base in Holywood if required.

Authorities are seeking to expand capacity for storage of bodies in Northern Ireland amid concerns the funeral system will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kinnegar base has already been earmarked for closure, with plans to sell it by 2022.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: "Preparing for the future and looking at worst case scenarios, while trying to mitigate against those worst case scenarios, is now our focus.

“We will do all we can to ensure dignity for the deceased and their family.

"We will work with all of those involved to enable as many people as possible to be buried or cremated in the usual way.

“We currently have some additional space in temporary resting places for the deceased over and above the normal arrangements.

"We are actively seeking to increase that capacity and are working closely with a range of organisations to find the best solution.

“As part of that work, a request has been submitted for the use of the soon to be decommissioned Kinnegar site near Belfast to be used as the NI Temporary Resting Place, in the event that it is needed.”

Earlier this week, Department of Justice officials told a Stormont committee there was likely to be a point where it would be impossible to stick to the current practice of holding funerals within three days of death.

As well as an increase in the death rate due to COVID-19, sickness among funeral directors and council staff is expected to put added pressure on the system.

Cover image: Library picture of Kinnegar base (Picture: Google Maps).