Northern Ireland news

Family wins right to appeal ban on Irish inscription on headstone

The family of Irish-born Margaret Keane want 'In ár gcroíthe go deo' – In our hearts forever – on their deceased mother's gravestone

A FAMILY in England has won the right to challenge a decision that denied them permission for an Irish language tribute on their late mother's headstone.

The family of Irish-born Margaret Keane want 'In ár gcroíthe go deo' – In our hearts forever – engraved on their deceased mother's headstone but were refused consent by the Chancellor of Diocese of Coventry. It was claimed there was a risk that the phrase could be "seen as a political statement" given the "passions and feelings connected with the use of Irish Gaelic".

Margaret Keane died in 2018 and is buried in Exhall near Coventry.

The chancellor, Stephen Eyre QC, had ruled the phrase could not be allowed in Irish without a translation, as it could be deemed to be some kind of “slogan”. He also refused permission to appeal his judgment.

However, the family have been successful in applying for permission to appeal June's ruling.

Solicitors acting on behalf of the deceased's family have agreed to act free of charge and are now preparing for an appeal hearing at the Arches Court of Canterbury.

In a statement, the late Ms Keane's daughters Bez Martin and Caroline Newey said: “We are delighted that the Arches Court of Canterbury is allowing our appeal to be heard.

"All we have ever wanted is to honour our mother’s memory in the most fitting way possible."

They said their mother's Irish heritage was "very important to her" and that the words on her headstone had been "carefully and lovingly chosen".

The sisters voiced the hope that the court would "allow us to finally mark her resting place in the way we wish".

Solicitor Caroline Brogan of Irwin Mitchell, who represent the family, welcomed the decision to allow an appeal.

“The family never imagined when they filled in a simple form for a memorial that it would put them in such a situation," she said.

"There is no quick way of reversing the original decision but today’s ruling is an important step."

Last month, with the support of the Irish community in Britain and beyond, the family held a online fundraising online concert, headlined by Sean Cannon of the Dubliners, which has attracted more than 12,000 views.

The family has set up the Margaret Keane Memorial Fund to honour their mother’s memory, which will help fund the Roger Casement GAA in Coventry's underage team's annual exchange to Ireland, alongside an independent study exploring the impact of public decision making on black and minority ethnic groups and supporting further legal or policy challenges to discriminatory regulations made by Church authorities.

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