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HJA act for intervenors in successful Appeal To Have Irish Phrase Only On Mother’s Gravestone

A Coventry family wishing to see the phrase “in ár gcroithe go Deo” (“In Our Hearts Forever”) on their mother’s headstone have successfully appealed the matter before the Arches Court of Canterbury. Hodge Jones & Allen acted for the intervenors, Irish Language Rights group Conradh na Gaeilge i Londain.

The family of Irish-born Margaret Keane was forced to appeal to the Court of the Arches of Canterbury 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 have attracted widespread support both in the UK and Ireland.

Oisín MacConamhna, secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge I Londain

“We believed this was a very important case, in which the family of Margaret Keane demonstrated great dignity and courage, in seeking to commemorate her life and heritage appropriately with a loving memorial on her grave. We intervened in their support because we believe the denial of permission to them to express their love for her in the language of their hearts without impediment was founded on disrespect for Margaret’s Irish heritage, against the law and against Christian morality. We wished to remind the former Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry of his Christian heritage, that his Diocese was founded and converted to Christianity by Irish monks, when God’s word was heard for the first time from their tongues in Irish, and they were served as translator even by an English king. We also wished to explain that freedom of loving expression is not only a human right under the law of the United Kingdom, but it is also something that ought to be celebrated, in any religion which professes belief in a benevolent God of Creation, in all its beautiful diversity.”

Raj Chada, who acted for the intervenors said:

“Nations are shaped by their history but modern Ireland, North and South, unionist or nationalist cannot be reduced to a clichés or outdated prejudices. So any assumption that an Irish phrase on a headstone for a mother’s grave is inevitably about republicanism is not just insulting to Irish people but fails to understand the diversity, vibrancy of what it means to be Irish now. It paints being Irish as meaning a particular thing and that by definition means excludes all others. That is only one reason why this was wrong and a battle that had to be fought. Delighted to have represented Conradh na Gaelige i Londain in their intervention in this case. I hope the victory brings peace to the family.”

HJA instructed Tim Moloney QC of Doughty Street and Blinne Ni Ghralaigh of Matrix Chambers.