Appeal Hearing Date Given In Irish Language Case

Appeal To Have Irish Phrase Only On Mother’s Gravestone To Be Heard On 24 February 2021

A Coventry family wishing to see the phrase “in ár gcroithe go Deo” (“In Our Hearts Forever”) in Irish only on their mother’s gravestone, has been notified that the appeal hearing will take place on Wednesday 24 February 2021 at St Mary-Le-Bow Church in London, where hearings before the Arches Court of Canterbury are heard. 

This comes following a recent boost given to the family as the Irish Language Rights group Conradh na Gaeilge i Londain has been given permission to intervene in the appeal proceedings, in support of the family’s case.

The family of Irish-born Margaret Keane has been forced to appeal to the Court of the Arches of Canterbury to appeal, after The Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry ruled against their wishes, saying using the phrase in the Irish language without a translation could be deemed to be a “political statement” or some kind of “slogan” in “English speaking Coventry”.

The family’s legal team, including solicitor Caroline Brogan at Irwin Mitchell and barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Mary-Rachel McCabe, both of Doughty St Chambers, is representing them on a free of charge basis. The family has recently been told by the Church of England (which is separate to the church court) that their court costs will be paid by sources within the Church of England.

Bez Killeen and Caroline Newey, two of Margaret Keane’s daughters, said:

“We are relieved that the appeal hearing has finally been listed and we welcome the intervention by Conradh na Gaeilge (London branch), which is a strong show of support for our ongoing case to have an Irish only inscription on our mum’s gravestone. We just want to be treated the same as the other parishioners. We are still horrified that we have found ourselves in a situation where we have to go through a lengthy appeal process with the ecclesiastical court. There are other gravestones in the Churchyard, in other languages, such as Welsh, Hebrew and Latin (all without translation) and they did not have to go through this process.”

The family has also issued a statement about the Church of England indication regarding court fees and charges, which can be seen here:

Commenting on the case, the Chair at Conradh na Gaeilge (London branch), said: “We believe that this case is very important, not just for Mrs Keane’s family but for all members of the Irish diaspora who might wish to commemorate their loved ones’ linguistic and cultural heritage appropriately within the Church of England. We will do everything we can to support her family in their appeal, mar is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.”

Expert Opinion

“The intervention of Conradh na Gaeilge is a welcome development and a huge support for the family as the case gathers wider attention and we move towards the hearing, now listed for February 2021.

“The family never expected to find themselves in this situation and while there is no quick way to reverse the original decision, the intervention of Conradh na Gaeilge, the legal team acting free of charge and the financial reassurance provided by the Church of England will help the family through what has been an unexpected and challenging time.” Caroline Brogan – Associate Solicitor

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