Judicial review sought over use of Irish in court
Judicial review sought over use of Irish in court

A request for a judicial review has been put before the Crown Court in Belfast in regard to the case of a teacher who was arrested after speaking Irish.

Last week an Irish language protest took place at Laganside Court in Belfast to highlight the case of Maire Nic an Bhaird, a local woman who was arrested after she speaking Irish to police. Ms Nic an Bhaird was charged with disorderly behaviour. The local schoolteacher was arrested outside a nightclub on May 25.

Crown prosecutors were pressing for the case to be heard as soon as possible, regardless of the language.

Maire Nic an Bhaird’s legal team refused, saying their client wanted the case to be heard in Irish and they are now calling for a judicial review of the status of languages in the courts in the Six Counties.

The case will not now be heard until a decision is taken on the review request. If successful, Maire will have the green light to defend herself in Irish.

Maire Nic an Bhaird said if her papers are eventually served in Irish it would be “an historical occasion” in the North’s legal history.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, who was accompanied by party colleagues Bairbre de Brun, Caitriona Ruane and Francie Brolly at the protest, said people must stand up for Irish language rights.

“It is disgraceful that a young woman was arrested for using her own language. Arguably, if she was speaking French, German, or English for that matter, she wouldn’t be in court,” said Mr Adams.

“I think it is important that we stand up for people’s rights and that includes language rights.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News