Ballykelly author’ on ‘The Law and the Dead’

Dr. Heather Conway
Dr. Heather Conway

A law lecturer from Ballykelly has penned a book about the one thing no-one can avoid - death and the laws governing the fate of the recently dead.

Dr Heather Conway, who now lives and works in Belfast, is a senior lecturer in the Law School at Queen’s University, Belfast.

'The Law and The Dead.

'The Law and The Dead.

The former Limavady Grammar student’s book - The Law and the Dead - looks what legal options are available when it comes to dealing with human remains, and who has decision-making powers when someone dies.

“It looks at the laws which apply when someone dies,” explained Dr Conway.

“The book also examines the how the law resolves family disputes over a dead relative: disputes over the funeral arrangements, why they happen and the legal status of the deceased’s own funeral instructions; whether a body can be exhumed and at whose request and, further down the line, decisions around and family disputes over the wording on headstones, and online memorials on Facebook page and other social networking sites.”

Explaining what inspired her to write the book, Dr Conway said death is the one fate “that we can’t avoid”.

Every single one of us will die at some point

Dr. Heather Conway

“Every single one of us will die at some point,” she said, “and death also touches everyone at some stage during their lives, and more than once.” She said the book illustrates that “some of our common assumptions are wrong; that more options are out there in how we deal with the dead; that there are bigger policy issues at play (eg corpse disposal is a major environmental issue); and that there are clear legal rules for settling some of the family conflicts that occur over funerals, what happens to ashes post-cremation, exhuming the dead etc, even if we don’t like the rules, or think they are not what they should be), but for other things (For example Facebook memorials), the law is not all that clear”.

The book is available from specialist legal bookshops, Amazon and the publisher’s website (Routledge).