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Court of Arches finds refusal of Irish-only inscription on Coventry family’s gravestone was discriminatory

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The Court of Arches, the highest ecclesiastical court in Britain, has handed down its judgment in the appeal against a decision by Chancellor Stephen Eyre QC to refuse permission for a phrase to be inscribed in Irish, without an English translation, on the headstone of an Irish mother, buried in Coventry.

The Chancellor had determined that the Irish inscription “inár groíthe go deo” (in our hearts forever”), would be “incomprehensible” to people in “English-speaking Coventry” and that, “given the passions and feelings” associated with the Irish language, there was a “sad risk” that people would consider it “some form of slogan or political statement.”

The Court ruled that the decision was unreasonable under the common law, and in breach of the family’s right not to be discriminated against under Article 14, ECHR. The Court also found that the Chancellor’s decision did not give effect to the Public Sector Equality Duty to eliminate discrimination under s 149 of the Equality Act 2010, which he was required to do. The Court found that “the effect of the Chancellor’s decision was to discriminate directly against the Appellant on the basis of her race”, on the basis ofan assumption… that viewers of the inscription, realising that it was in Irish, would conclude that it was a political slogan, which we have found not to be based upon evidence or any other rational footing” andto run so strongly counter to the reality of twenty first century Britain, a multi-cultural society with ready access to the internet as a source of instant translation, and the cultural make-up of Coventry”.

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh intervened in support of the Keane Family on behalf of Conradh na Gaeilge, instructed by Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors.