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Conamara man seeks bilingual jury

diy01

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Full story @ RTÉ

The High Court has been hearing a judicial review initiated by a Co Galway man who wishes to have his criminal trial presented before a bilingual jury.

Mr Peadar Ó Maicín, from Ros Muc in the Connemara Gaeltacht, is seeking to overturn a decision of the Circuit Court in Galway last year which refused his request to have his case heard before a jury which understands both Irish and English.
He also stated that Irish was his first language, and only in his teens did he master the English language.

Mr Ó Maicín stated in his affidavit that he was constitutionally entitled to have his case heard solely in Irish.
My understanding is that this constitutional guarantee only applies to civil cases, but I'm open to correction on that one. What say you? Last I checked, Ireland has two official languages. Here we have a native Irish speaker, someone who has English as a second, learned language and a resident of one of the strongest Irish speaking districts in the country. How hard would it be to assemble a bilingual jury in Galway? I don't think it's good enough for people to say 'ah well, he can speak English too'. Irish is his first language and an official language of the country. Is a judicial review required each time an Irish citizen wishes to use their own language in the courts?

Peadar Ó Maicín was charged in Galway Circuit Court last year with assault on another man in Co Galway. He denies the charge.

His request for a bilingual Jury was turned down by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the time.
 


stewiegriffin

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Hes entitled , fair play etc . Hes not doing himself any favours though . If it was me I would aim for a wide and varied portion of society to 'judge' me .
 

Sync

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I'd be very much against it, for a couple of reasons.

1. For whatever reason, the majority of Irish people do not have the Irish skills to participate in an Irish only trial. You're effectively disqualifying the majority of citizens from being on this jury. It's a responsibility to participate in the process, but it's also a right.

2. Man you're creating so many chances for appeal. If the jury misunderstand one important sentence you could go for appeal.

3. It will be abused. It creates a precedent where I in Dublin with more of a multicultural people could demand an Irish speaking jury if I'm on trial. Say I'm accused of assaulting an immigrant. The last thing I want is a jury of my peers possibly made up of people who have emigrated from the EU. This is a way I could guarantee that wouldn't happen.

4. It will end up in the EU courts. If you allow someone who speaks English have a jury who speak his native language, why should an Estonian suspect not have the same right? It would be an interesting case.
 

Interista

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It will end up in the EU courts. If you allow someone who speaks English have a jury who speak his native language, why should an Estonian suspect not have the same right? It would be an interesting case.
Because Estonian is not an official language in Ireland. Irish is, and in theory at least, has the same status as English in the Republic. An Estonian suspect would probably have the right to an interpreter, but not to have a jury who spoke his language.
 

Sync

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Because Estonian is not an official language in Ireland. Irish is, and in theory at least, has the same status as English in the Republic. An Estonian suspect would probably have the right to an interpreter, but not to have a jury who spoke his language.
In theory. Not in practice. Let's drop Estonia, let's look at Polish. In 2006 we had 60,000 of them declared as living in Ireland compared to 91,000 living in all the gaeltachts. Disregarding the issue of history, from a practical pov, if you allow English speaking Irish citizens here legally have a trial in Irish, why can't a Polish citizen here legally who doesn't speak English have their trial in Polish?

I don't think it's a case that would necessarily win, I do think it's a case that would go to court.
 

Interista

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Disregarding the issue of history, from a practical pov, if you allow English speaking Irish citizens here legally have a trial in Irish, why can't a Polish citizen here legally who doesn't speak English have their trial in Polish?
Because, as I've said, no languages other than English and Irish have any official status in Ireland. The suspect would be entitled to a translator, but nothing more.


I don't think it's a case that would necessarily win, I do think it's a case that would go to court.
I don't think so. Lots of countries are bi- or even trilingual and citizens can be tried in any of the official languages. Plus, if this person can make a case that Irish is his native language and English simply a second language for him, your analogy with a Pole living in Ireland wouldn't stand at all.
 

Sync

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Because, as I've said, no languages other than English and Irish have any official status in Ireland. The suspect would be entitled to a translator, but nothing more.

I don't think so. Lots of countries are bi- or even trilingual and citizens can be tried in any of the official languages. Plus, if this person can make a case that Irish is his native language and English simply a second language for him, your analogy with a Pole living in Ireland wouldn't stand at all.

That's probably the way it would go in court as well. The difference between Ireland and somewhere like Belgium for instance is that while French, Dutch and German may be official languages of the country, from what I know of thd country you can't have a jury trial in German, because less that 100,000 speak it. Happy to be proven wrong on that one though.

Point 4 would be the more minor of the reasons I listed that I'm against this, the primary one is that we have less than 300,000 people fluent in Irish, only about 50,000 of whom speak it as their first language. At what point do you say it's not reasonable to disqualify millions of potential jurors (and more than likely give the jury a skewed cultural sample) simply to facilitate such a minority?

The court is handling it well though, and I'd say it will pass to the supreme court in the end, which is for the best. A definitive answer on this will be good the process.
 

diy01

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I'd be very much against it, for a couple of reasons.

1. For whatever reason, the majority of Irish people do not have the Irish skills to participate in an Irish only trial.
Originally he wanted an 'Irish only trial', but is now seeking a bilingual trial with bilingual jurors, as far as I can tell. Is that unreasonable?

Is Irish an official language of the State or isn't it?

The court is handling it well though, and I'd say it will pass to the supreme court in the end, which is for the best. A definitive answer on this will be good the process.
The Supreme Court case Ó Beoláin v Fahy (2001) is an interesting one.
http://www.coimisineir.ie/downloads/languagerights.pdf (bottom of page)
 

drjimryan2

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im sure the 'love everybody once theyre not irish and working class' do-gooder lobby are watching this with interest...
 

Sync

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Originally he wanted an 'Irish only trial', but is now seeking a bilingual trial with bilingual jurors, as far as I can tell. Is that unreasonable?

Is Irish an official language of the State or isn't it?
It is, but as I pointed out in Belgium, it's possible to be an official language without going to extremes. In this case we're speaking about disqualifying 90% of the population from being on this jury for someone who speaks English simply to prove a point. A balance needs to be struck between the rights of the individual and the rights of the population, and the integrity of the system. Here the state could fund a professional, trained translator for him where he wouldn't suffer damage.

To be frank, if it turns out that the man he's alleged to have assaulted isn't Irish then I'm calling shenanigans on his entire argument as it relates to him personally, but the case itself has merit and should have a clear result in the Supreme Court.
 

corelli

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Full story @ RTÉ





My understanding is that this constitutional guarantee only applies to civil cases, but I'm open to correction on that one. What say you? Last I checked, Ireland has two official languages. Here we have a native Irish speaker, someone who has English as a second, learned language and a resident of one of the strongest Irish speaking districts in the country. How hard would it be to assemble a bilingual jury in Galway? I don't think it's good enough for people to say 'ah well, he can speak English too'. Irish is his first language and an official language of the country. Is a judicial review required each time an Irish citizen wishes to use their own language in the courts?
He is not entitled to a bilingual Jury, one would have thought. He has a constitutional entitlement, born out in case-law to have his case, civil or criminal, heard in either English or Irish, or a combination, logically. All that entails is a right for him to present his case in either Language. It also requires, obviously, a Judge able to operate in either language. His constitutional entitlement ends there, however. All that is required for a jury is that it be translated for them, if required. There has never been established a right to a bilingual jury. It would be disproportionate, imo, and probably impracticable.

Additionally, having an Irish speaking jury, or bilingual, would probably offend against the principle in "De Burca V. Ireland", where it is mandated to have as representative a jury as possible.
 

corelli

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In theory. Not in practice. Let's drop Estonia, let's look at Polish. In 2006 we had 60,000 of them declared as living in Ireland compared to 91,000 living in all the gaeltachts. Disregarding the issue of history, from a practical pov, if you allow English speaking Irish citizens here legally have a trial in Irish, why can't a Polish citizen here legally who doesn't speak English have their trial in Polish?

I don't think it's a case that would necessarily win, I do think it's a case that would go to court.
All that is required for a non national non english speaker is that the case, as presented, including documentation, be translated for them.
 

pippakin

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I sympathise with this man, but so long as he is allowed to have his case heard in his choice of the two official languages, I dont think he has the right to demand what kind of juror he has. If allowed it has the potential to go further than language. If the jury members are not entirely comfortable with Irish then interpretors should be all that is necessary, but the case should be heard in whichever official language the accused is most comfortable.
 

Cael

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Full story @ RTÉ





My understanding is that this constitutional guarantee only applies to civil cases, but I'm open to correction on that one. What say you? Last I checked, Ireland has two official languages. Here we have a native Irish speaker, someone who has English as a second, learned language and a resident of one of the strongest Irish speaking districts in the country. How hard would it be to assemble a bilingual jury in Galway? I don't think it's good enough for people to say 'ah well, he can speak English too'. Irish is his first language and an official language of the country. Is a judicial review required each time an Irish citizen wishes to use their own language in the courts?


Fair play to him. Its time someone called the free state on its rank hypocracy in relation to the Irish language.
 

devnull

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Fair play to him. Its time someone called the free state on its rank hypocracy in relation to the Irish language.
Maybe, though he could regret appealing to the SC.

His constitutional right not to have his trial held in a language that all concerned understand is derived from precedents set back when the Irish language movement was much stronger than it is today.
It's possible that given the opportunity by a relevant case, the SC might go further than just turning down his petition.
 

martino

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Beir bua leis, I'm with Cael on this one, Good luck to the man, defending himself against Common Law when he really should have a Brehon Law hearing-as Gaelige.
 

diy01

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Riadach

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Here we are over two years later. The Supreme Court appeal has now begun. My understanding is that Irish speakers in the past have taken cases to the highest court in an effort to assert their rights as Irish citizens who happen to be Irish-speakers. In this case Mr Ó Maicín may be pushing his luck...

Appeal on right to bilingual jury begins - RTÉ News
Weekly Preview for 10th December 2012 | Ex Tempore | Ex Tempore
Indeed, his chances are probably slim. I'm not sure how I feel about this, since I'm almost certain the allegedly pugilistic Mr Ó Maicín is not motivated by a desire to promote the Irish language.
 

Clanrickard

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Here we are over two years later. The Supreme Court appeal has now begun. My understanding is that Irish speakers in the past have taken cases to the highest court in an effort to assert their rights as Irish citizens who happen to be Irish-speakers. In this case Mr Ó Maicín may be pushing his luck...

Appeal on right to bilingual jury begins - RTÉ News
Weekly Preview for 10th December 2012 | Ex Tempore | Ex Tempore
Irish is the national language English is an official language according to the constitution. If he is a native speaker I think he has the right to a Irish speaking jury. People who request this as far as I know must prove they are fluent in Irish to stop time wasters.
 


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