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Máire Nic an Bhaird case thrown out on appeal

14 September, 2007

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that the decision to throw out the case against Máire Nic an Bhaird on appeal today highlights the fact that the case should never have been brought in the first place.

Ms de Brún also said that this case exposed the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service to allegations of malicious prosecution.

The long-running case has been the subject of considerable controversy and Irish speakers across the island have rallied to support the young teacher. Like the political vetting of Glór na nGael in the 1980s, the case Ms Nic an Bhaird was seen as a symbol of official hostility to Irish speakers by authorities in the North.

In the magistrates court Ms Nic an Bhaird was originally was found guilty of disorderly conducted and fined £100.

Speaking after the decision it overturned today Ms de Brún said:

"The ruling makes a mockery of the original judgement and also exposes the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service to allegations of malicious prosecution.

"This young woman should never have found herself before the courts, and would never have been in court were it not for the fact that she spoke Irish in the streets of Belfast. I was in court to hear the evidence given by the PSNI against her and I must say that I found that evidence staged and unreliable.

"Ms Nic an Bhaird was also denied the right to have the papers relating to the case in Irish or to have the court hearing in Irish. This flies in the face of the Good Friday Agreement, the Criminal Justice Review and the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages.

"The Máire Nic an Bhaird case shows the need for strong legislation to promote and protect the rights of Irish speakers. Sinn Fein will continue to press for these rights to be enshrined in an Irish Language Act without delay." ENDS

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