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Court Case Demonstrates Need For Irish Language Act

19 July, 2006

Speaking after attending a protest outside the Laganside courts on Belfast organised by Irish language activists, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún said today that the fact that MáireNic an Bhaird has to put forward arguments in order to obtain court services in Irish shows the need for an Irish language act.

Ms de Brún said:

"Regardless of the details of this case the deciding factor in whether or not this young woman found herself before the courts appears to be that she is an Irish speaker.

"This young women has spoken Irish all her life and has gone through her entire schooling through the medium of Irish. While I would obviously prefer that she didn't find herself before the courts, a main concern for the Irish language community is that all proceedings should now be in Irish. In particular, it is imperative that the prosecution service provide the relevant papers in Irish and that she herself be able to address the court in Irish.

" As a result of the British government's ratification of Part III of the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages, of the Good Friday Agreement and of the Criminal Justice Review the legal proceedings should now be provided in Irish. This morning arguments to this effect were put forward in court and the case was adjourned.

"The fact that such arguments had to be made in court this morning and that further legal pleadings are necessary before such legal services can be provided to an Irish speaker in Irish demonstrates clearly the need for an Irish Language Act for the six counties." ENDS

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