The death of eight-year-old Ciaran Williamson, after he was hit by a falling gravestone at a cemetery in Glasgow, should never have happened.
The stone, weighing nearly two-and-a-half tons, had been undermined by tree roots and was leaning over by more than six degrees when it fell. Had an inspection been carried out, the headstone would have been declared unsafe and Ciaran would still be alive, according to a Fatal Accident Inquiry.
The inquiry heard that Glasgow City Council did not actually have an inspection programme in place and Sheriff Linda Ruxton also criticised the Scottish Government for an “absence” of guidance for local councils on how to manage cemeteries to ensure they were safe.
It is important that the Government now moves quickly to ensure effective guidelines are brought in – and adhered to by cash-strapped local authorities. Ciaran’s death is a warning about the state of our cemeteries, but it should also motivate councils and, indeed, private companies and individuals to ensure buildings and large structures are kept in a good state of repair. Lives may depend on it.