Seán Ó Conaill is a lecturer in law in the Faculty of Law, University College Cork.
On each occasion in Ireland when it is proposed to have a referendum to amend the Constitution, the Bill which grounds this process is required to give the text of the proposed amendment in English and in Irish. The Irish text is necessitated by the special status the Irish language enjoys as the first official language, the national language and indeed the authoritative text of the Constitution in the case of conflict.
The fact that the Irish texts prevails in the case of conflict between the two texts is well established and it is submitted in many instances justified given the more careful drafting process used for the Irish text in 1937. What was perhaps not envisaged however was the position with regards to amendments the wording of which tend to be agreed and finalised in English and subsequently translated to Irish. This presents the added complication of the Irish translation of the English text being the authoritative version in the case of a Court finding that there is a conflict between the texts. I have argued elsewhere that Ireland would benefit greatly from the introduction of co-drafting which would not only improve the quality of the Irish text, but as experience from Wales and Canada has shown, significantly improves the quality of the English text too. As things stand however the Irish text Continue reading “Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Some Perspectives on the Irish Wording”
Bheartaigh an Chúirt Uachtarach inné nach bhfuil sé de dhíth faoi Bhunreacht na hÉireann go gcuirfí aistriúchán oifigiúil d’Achtanna an Oireachtas agus d’ionstraimí reachtúla ar fáil as Gaeilge díreach ag an am céanna agus a bhfuil siad á chur ar fáil as Béarla – Ó Murchú v An Taoiseach & eile.
Deireadh é seo le chás a thosnaigh thart ar deich mbliain ó shin nuair a lorg aturnae Pól Ó Murchú athbhreithniú dlíthiúil ar roinnt chúís bainteach le aistriúcháin sa teanga oifigiúil a bheith ar fáil do dhaoine gur mhaith leo a chuid cúrsaí dlí a dhéanamh trí mheáin na gaeilinne. De réir an tUasail Ó Murchú tá sé an-dheacair ar dhaoine é seo a dhéanamh gan Achtanna agus ionstraimí reachtúla cosúil le Rialacha na Cúirteanna (agus na foirm a bhaineann leo) a bheith ar fáil as Gaeilge.
Chuir an iarratasóir an argóint os comhair na cúirte go bhfuil sé de dhíth faoin mBunreacht go mbeadh na hAchtanna 7rl ar fáil trí mheáin na gaeilinne, ach go háirithe de réir Airteagail 8, 25 agus 40. Continue reading “Díomá do Ghaeilgeóirí – Disappointment for Irish Speakers”
The Irish Times reports that Irish was not even among the top ten most used languages in the courts last year. The cost of providing interpretation services for Irish was less than €2,000 in total during 2006 and fell further to €1,012 in 2007, according to official figures provided by the Courts Service. By contrast, over 10,000 requests were made to the Courts Service last year for interpreters for 71 different languages. Polish topped the list. The other main languages were Romanian, Lithuanian, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Latvian, Portuguese, French, Czech and Arabic.
Section 8 of the Official Languages Act 2003 provides that a person has the right to be heard and to use the Irish language in the courts. Irish is recognised as the first official language in Article 8 of the Constitution, but allows the legislature to make provision for the exclusive use of Irish or English in a particular context. The leading case is Ó Beoláin v. Fahy  2 I.R. 279. You can read about Ó Beoláin in Irish and in English in this article by UCC’s Seán Ó Conaill in the 2008 Irish Student Law Review. In that case, Hardiman J. held in the Supreme Court that:
it is not possible (at least in the absence of law of the type envisaged in Article 8.3) to exclude Irish, which is the national language and at the same time the first official language of the State, from any part of the public discourse of the nation or from any official business of the State or from the official business of any of its members. Nor is it possible in these contexts to treat it in a manner which is less favourable than the way in which the second official language is treated. Neither is it possible to prevent those who are capable and desirous of using Irish in making their case or in communicating from so doing or to disadvantage them when so doing in any national or official context.
Continue reading “Irish Language in the Courts, South and North”