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Fermanagh council rejects rainbow headstone for tragic Shayne Magee

By Ann W Schmidt

Published 07/10/2016

The proposed headstone in memory of Shayne Magee
The proposed headstone in memory of Shayne Magee
Shayne Magee

The parents of an eight-year-old boy who died two years ago are fighting to have his headstone design approved by a council.

Shayne Magee was buried at Cross Cemetery in Enniskillen, which is owned by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

The little boy suffered from a rare genetic condition - a form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome

His parents, Damian Lynch and Teresa Magee, tried to get a headstone approved by the council, but the design, which was in the shape of a dove with a colourful rainbow around it, was rejected.

Mr Lynch was initially told by the council that it was willing to work with him. But when he called back a few days later, he discovered there did not seem to be room for negotiation.

"I realised then that the compromise for them was, they would let me have the rainbow design, but under no terms was it allowed to be coloured," he said.

Mr Lynch explained that he was willing to change the design so the rainbow was smaller, but he was told that colour was not allowed.

The grieving father said the family's preferred headstone suited Shayne. "He was always dressed in colours, he was always a very colourful child and that's how he was known," he added.

While council officials told him that colour was not allowed, Mr Lynch claimed that they were unable to show him where that was stipulated in the rules.

Last week he handed in a letter of appeal to the council and on Saturday he got a reply. Mr Lynch said that afterwards he spoke to an official "who was very sympathetic and apologetic for everything that had gone on".

While the headstone has still not been approved, the grieving father feels he has been listened to. "There's hope now," he said.

In a statement, the council said that the colour scheme of the stone rainbow was "out of keeping with other headstones in this cemetery".

But it added: "We understand this is a very sensitive matter and will continue to liaise with the family to help bring this matter to a satisfactory resolution."

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