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Scottish PEN reaffirms call to overturn judgement concerning Irish-language epitaph

Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal to The Arches Court of Canterbury (24th February 2021), Scottish PEN reaffirms its support for Margaret Keane’s family to remember their late mother in the Irish language on her gravestone.

February 23, 2021

Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal to The Arches Court of Canterbury (24th February 2021), Scottish PEN reaffirms its support for Margaret Keane’s family to remember their late mother in the Irish language on her gravestone. The decision of the Church of England’s Ecclesiastical Court in Coventry refused the family permission to have engraved thereon the words ‘in ár gcroíthe go deo’ (‘in our hearts forever’).

They stated: ‘Given the passions and feelings connected with the use of Irish Gaelic there is a sad risk that the phrase would be regarded as some form of slogan or that its inclusion without translation would of itself be seen as a political statement’.

PEN has a long history in the field of Translation and Linguistic Rights. The PEN Girona Manifesto was developed ten years ago to defend linguistic diversity around the world, and states: ‘Respect for all languages and cultures is fundamental to the process of constructing and maintaining dialogue and peace in the world…The right to use and protect one’s own language must be recognised by the United Nations as one of the fundamental human rights’.

We are concerned that this judgment reflects anti-Irish sentiment and negates linguistic diversity in the UK. We call on the Church of England’s appeal court (the Court of the Arches) to overturn the decision of the Consistory Court at tomorrow’s appeal.

If you would like to support the Margaret Keane Memorial Fund you can do so here

Read a joint statement supported by Scottish PEN, English PEN, Irish PEN and Wales PEN Cymru (first published in June 2020) here.