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Traditional Irish funeral under threat

April 10th, 2006

Undertakers to lead protest as Brussels seeks chemicals ban (The Times, 10 April 2006)
The ancient traditions of the Irish wake and funeral are under threat from Brussels, the Republic’s governing Fianna Fail party has said. Final farewells to the deceased as they lie in open coffin could be ended by Stavros Dimas, the European Union environment commissioner, who wants chemicals used by embalmers withdrawn under a new biocides directive.

How EU edict could kill off the Irish wake (Daily Telegraph, 10 April 2006)
The strange mixture of joy and grief that marks a traditional Irish funeral […] is under threat from a European directive.

The EU is not threatening the traditional Irish funeral. The EU directive on biocidal products, adopted in 1998, establishes a “positive” list of substances that do not have unacceptable effects on the environment, human or animal health. It is up to the industry to identify such substances.
As a result of this consultation with the industry, the Commission decided that substances used for embalming would be included on a priority list. They are to be evaluated by EU member states’ authorities by 2010. Whatever the outcome, embalming can in any case continue in Ireland as normal until then.
Also, Irish funeral directors can ask the authorities to apply for an exemption for embalming substances.

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