IT is both disturbing and concerning that in 2020 The Irish Post is reporting news of blatant anti-Irish racism being directed at members of the Irish community in Britain.
Back in 1970 this paper was launched at a time where the Irish in this country were without a voice.
It was a time when our community was largely misrepresented in mainstream media and often viewed with unjustified caution, fear or disdain by those in positions of authority.
In some more extreme cases that climate saw innocent members of our community locked up for years for crimes they did not commit.
In other cases Irish people living in this country spoke in hushed tones while out in public, so as to not let their accent be heard.
The Irish Post sought to counter that and campaigned for the rights of the Irish community across Britain.
Its news pages, back then, and for many years that followed, were sadly filled with stories of anti-Irish acts and incidents.
Thankfully, 50 years later, such stories are, generally, now a thing of the past.
At least they were.
The fact that we report this week that Margaret Keane’s family have been barred from inscribing the words ‘In ar gcroithe go deo’ on her gravestone by a Church of England court which deems the Gaelic phrase too ‘political’ is both shocking and mind-boggling all at once.
Firstly the phrase, which translates as ‘in our hearts forever’, is anything but political.
But that’s not the point.
What is deeply unsettling about this incident is that the judge in question deems any Gaelic phrase too political for use on a headstone in Britain.
Seemingly he believes people reading the Irish language in this way is likely to instigate unrest.
Through this he suggests that there is something for the people of Britain to fear from the Irish community.
That is a mindset more akin to the Britain of 1970, it has no business here in 2020.
So it is truly concerning that this judge has no issue publicly stating these deeply anti-Irish beliefs.
And what is even more worrying is that he allows those views to guide him when making decisions in a position of authority.
It is simply unacceptable that any judge be allowed to preach and practice such anti-Irish sentiments in this country today.
Britain is a country made up of people from so many cultures and nationalities, why would any one of them be banned from expressing their heritage on their gravestone?
Britain is a country built and maintained by people from so many cultures and nationalities, why, in death, should any one of them be insulted in such a disgusting manner?
The battle to give a voice to the Irish community in Britain was long and hard-fought.
We are surely not now expected to accept that our voice – our native tongue – is not welcome on our gravestones, or anything else, in this country.