Family Appeal the Ruling which refused "In Our Hearts Forever", in Irish only, on Gravestone
The bereaved family of Irish-born Coventry resident Margaret Keane, have now filed an application for permission to appeal the judgment of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry, HHJ Stephen Eyre QC, after he ruled that the phrase could not be allowed on her gravestone in “English-speaking Coventry” and that without a translation it could be deemed to be a “political statement”.
The judgment by HHJ Stephen Eyre QC has attracted widespread concern in the media both sides of the Irish Sea, and from organisations such as the Irish Embassy in Great Britain, Conradh na Gailege, freedom of expression organisations and legal specialists.
Margaret Keane died suddenly, in hospital aged 73 on 29th July 2018, leaving behind a shocked and devastated family including her loving husband Bernard (Bernie), her mother Bridget, her sisters Anne, Cath and Helen, her children Colette, Michael, Vincent, Bernadette (Bez), Caroline and Donna, and her 14 grandchildren.
Speaking on behalf of the family, two of Margaret’s daughters, Caroline Newey and Bez Martin, from Coventry, said: “We are a very close family and our world was turned upside down when we lost our mum in tragic circumstances. Our hurt and loss has been made so much worse by not being able to have a final memorial on her grave. Mum and dad were so proud of their Irish heritage and it is so important that their grave should have a loving tribute to them in the Irish language. This will be my dad’s final resting place too and this is causing our whole family a lot of distress”.
The family has now instructed Solicitor, Caroline Brogan, at Irwin Mitchell as well as Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Mary-Rachel McCabe from Doughty Street Chambers to bring a legal appeal on their behalf. The lawyers have agreed to act on a free of charge basis.
Expert Opinion“I am proud to be part of the legal team, with specialist human rights barristers, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Mary-Rachel McCabe, to challenge this ruling.
“Our clients have not chosen to be in this position, engaged in possibly lengthy litigation in the ecclesiastical courts. They simply filled in what they believed to be a standard form for a memorial and thought that would be a straightforward process. However, the matter ended up being referred to the Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry, who ruled against them on 6 May 2020. Regrettably there is no simple, quick way of reversing his decision; this is a judicial decision and there is a specific process which must be followed.
“Firstly, permission must be obtained for leave to appeal to the Arches of Canterbury. This means an application must be filed with the Chancellor, HHJ Stephen Eyre QC, who gave the judgment of 6 May 2020, to ask for permission to appeal. That application was filed on 11 June 2020. If permission is not granted, the next step is to apply to the Arches of Canterbury for permission. If permission is granted, then the family will be entitled to lodge an appeal at the Arches of Canterbury”.
Caroline Brogan - Senior Associate Solicitor
Caroline, Bez and Donna said: “We just want to honour our mother’s memory in the best way possible. We did not ask for any of this and the longer that this goes on, only adds to the pain that we are feeling”.
The family has also set up the Margaret Keane Memorial Fund to honour their mother’s life and to ensure that, after the battle they are experiencing to try to make a final statement of love to her, lessons are learned and other grieving families are not put through this. All funds raised will go to three things of particular importance to Margaret and the family:
1. Fund children from Roger Casements G.A.A Coventry underage team to attend their annual exchange home to Ireland.
2. They want to commission an independent study exploring the impact of public decision making on Black and Minority Ethnic groups including issues of power, privilege and prejudice and its impact on race relations.
3. Supporting further legal or policy challenges to any possible discriminatory impact of Diocesan regulations or practices, with the intention to ensure equality of opportunity to all engaging in such processes.
Margaret’s daughters added: “We want to express our warmest thanks for everyone’s support and through the Margaret Keane Memorial Fund we can ensure that systematic changes are made so that future grieving families are not subjected to a similar experience in future.”
The Margaret Keane Memorial Fund can be found here https://www.gofundme.com/f/6qnk8-margaret-keane-memorial-fund