Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ruling expected in landmark case on use of Irish language in Courts

18 September, 2006


Irish language speakers will not be denied the right to use their own language - Ní séanfar a gcearta labhartha Ghaeilge ar Ghaelgeoirí.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that the court case of Irish language school teacher Máire Nic an Bhaird has huge implications for the protection and promotion of Irish language rights in the Six Counties.

Ms de Brún MEP, Sinn Féin Language and Culture Spokesperson, East Derry MLA Francie Brolly and Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Human Rights and Equality, South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane have urged Irish language speakers and Human Rights campaigners to join the protest at 10am tomorrow, Monday 18th, outside the Laganside Courts in Belfast to protest against the arrest and treatment of Máire Nic an Bhaird.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"This case has huge implications for the protection and promotion of Irish language rights in the Six Counties. Irish speakers throughout the country are anxiously awaiting today's ruling on whether Máire Nic an Bhaird will have the necessary documents in the Irish language. However, the fact that legal arguments have had to be made over a lengthy period on this subject underlines the need for an Irish Language Act.

"It is important that Máire Nic an Bhaird should be able to have any and all dealings with the court through the Irish language, in keeping with the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages, the Good Friday Agreement, and the Criminal Justice Review. Sinn Féin is determinedto ensure that the basic rights of Irish language speakers are protected and promoted.

"In the South the 2003 Official Languages Act and the appointment of an Irish language Commissioner have raised hopes for Irish speakers north of the border. POBAL have brought forward detailed proposals for an Irish Language Act for the six counties.

Irish language speakers in the six counties deserve the same rights as speakers throughout the rest of the country and Sinn Féin have raised the issue of an Irish Language Act in negotiations with the British Government.

"Sinn Féin's demand is now for the British government to put the POBAL proposals for an Irish Language Act into legislation.

"Tá Sinn Féin ag éilimh anois go ndéanfaidh Rialtas na Breataine reachtaíocht a thabhairt chun tosaigh, le hAcht Gaeilge, mar atá iarrtha ag POBAL a thabhairt i bhfeidhm."

Mr Brolly said:

"It is an outrage that an Irish language schoolteacher should be arrested and subjected to abusive and threatening behaviour by the PSNI for speaking Irish on a Belfast street.

"Is scannál glan amach é gur gabhadh muinteoir Ghaeilge agus gur imríodh leatrom agus idé bhéil uirthí ag SPTÉ mar gheall ar í a bheith a labhairt as Gaeilge.

"Tomorrow her case comes again before the courts in Belfast and I will join a picket organised by Irish language activists and speakers and would encourage other to come along.

"Irish language speakers will not be denied our basic right to speak our own language on our own streets by the PSNI or anyone else.

"Ní séanfar ar gcearta labhartha Gaeilge ar ár sráideanna féin orainn ag an SPTÉ nó ag duine ar bith eile." ENDS

Note to Editors

Ms Ruane and Mr Brolly will join Irish language activists from across the island to support Máire Nic an Bhaird and demand the introduction of an Irish Language Act in the Six Counties.

Ms de Brún will participate in the all-Ireland Roundtable on Child Protection being held in Dundlak.

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