An estimated 1,000 Irish emigrants, mostly elderly, have been buried in unmarked graves in London alone in the last three years, according to an article in the Derry Journal.
In a message delivered on St Patrick’s week, Bishop of Derry Dr Seamus Hegarty, made an appeal to the Irish Government to support the elderly members of the Irish community in Britain and abroad.
“For a multitude of reasons, some Irish emigrants today can still find themselves isolated, vulnerable and alone,” said Hegarty, who is also the Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants.
“We must continue to support the elderly members of the Irish emigrant community, in Britain and elsewhere.
"Earlier this year we learned that some Irish people were still being buried in communal graves in London, without loved ones to comfort them at the time of their passing or to care for their remains.
"I gratefully acknowledge the work of the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain in highlighting this issue and their ongoing work, and the work of other organisations, in reaching out to the elderly Irish community.”
In his message, he praised the Irish chaplaincy in Britain for highlighting the practice of burying the remains of isolated immigrants in communal graves. He also addressed the recent “haemorrhage” of emigration, calling Ireland’s loss of thousands of young people “an immeasurable deficit in family, community and national resources.”