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Péindlithe fós i Réim i gCúirteanna na Breataine

15/07/09

(English version follows.)

Caoimhín Mac Giolla CatháinTheip ar an iarracht is déanaí de chuid baill de phobal na Gaeilge dúshlán a thabhairt don chosc ar an teanga i gcúirteanna na Breataine Dé Céadaoin seo caite [8ú Iúil].

Thóg Caoimhín Mac Giolla Catháin, cainteoir dúchais ó Ghaeltacht Bhóthar Seoighe i mBéal Feirste, thóg sé agóid dhlíthiúil nuair a cuireadh in iúl dó nach bhféachfadh an chúirt ar iarratas do cheadúnas dí do cheolchoirm dé bhrí go raibh sé scríofa i nGaeilge.

Tá cosc ar úsáid na Gaeilge i gcúirteanna na Breataine ó bhí 1737 ann, nuair a rith parlaimint na Cinsealeachta An Act that all Proceedings in Courts of justice within this Kingdom shall be in the English language – athainmnithe ní ba mhoille go Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) 1737.

Tugadh an t-acht sin isteach mar fhreagra ar acht cosúil sa Bhreatain, d’ainneoin, nó b’fhéidir de bhrí, gur Ghaeilgeoirí aonteangacha a bhí i bhformhór mór de dhaonra na hÉireann ag an am.

Cé gur tugadh na hachtanna seo isteach le go mbeadh an Béarla an t-aon teanga inghlactha i gcúirt na Breataine, tá seo athraithe an oiread sin go bhfuil an Bhreatnais agus an Gàidhlig anois in úsáid go minic i gcúirteanna in Albain agus sa Bhreatain Bheag. Tá an Ghaeilge fós thar fóir afách.

Ag caint faoi chinneadh na hArd-Chúirte, dúirt Janet Muller ó ghrúpa abhcóide na Gaeilge POBAL: “Is dlí frith-ghealach é, Acht 1737 um Riar na Córa (Teanga)(Éirinn). Is í an Ghaeilge an t-aon teanga amháin sa tuaisceart a thagann faoi thionchar an choisc seo. Déantar freastal ar theangacha mionlacha eitneacha ar bhonn laethúil i gcúirteanna Thuaisceart na hÉireann, rud is ceart agus cóir. Tá sé suntasach go bhfuil cosaint chomh fíochmhar seo déanta ag rialtas na Breataine ar dhlí seanaimseartha éagórach a imríonn leatrom ar an teanga Ghaeilge agus ar Ghaeilgeoirí… Léiríonn an cás seo go bhfuil Rialtas na Breataine arís eile ciontach i bhfeidhmiú caighdeán dúbailte ar úsáideoirí na dteangacha éagsúla dúchasacha ar na hoileáin seo.”

Agus é ag díbhe na hargóinte nach luíonn Acht 1737 leis an Chairt Eorpach do Theangacha Réigiúnda nó Mionlaigh agus go sáraíonn sé Coinbhinsiún na hEorpa um Chearta an Duine, mhaígh an breitheamh Séamus Treacy nár saraíodh ceann ar bith de chearta Mhic Ghiolla Catháin de bhrí go bhfuil sé in ann Béarla a thuscint. Tá Caoimhín anois ag smaoineamh faoin chás a thabhairt go cúirteanna na hEorpa.

Cé chomh fada a shéanfar Acht na Gaeilge?Arsa urlabhraí éirígí Seán Mac Brádaigh: “Arís eile, feiceann muid institiúidí na Breataine in Éirinn ag diúltú d’Éireannaigh a bhféiniúlacht agus a dteanga, an uair seo ag úsáid iarsma 200 bliain d’aois de na Péindlithe le lucht labhartha na Gaeilge a chur faoi chois.

Cuireann cinneadh na hArd-Chúirte teachtaireacht shoiléir nach bhfuil aon seanphíosa leatromach reachtaíochta thar teorainn, agus gur féidir conarthaí agus coimitmintí idirnáisiúnta a chaitheamh amach nauir atá géarleanúint na nGaeilgeoirí i gceist. Déanann sé arís ceap magaidh de bhéalghrá rialtas na Breataine do choincheapa na cothroime agus na héagsúlachta.”

Lean Seán ar aghaidh: “Ní raibh Caoimhín ar an chéad Ghaeilgeoir a thug dúshlán do leatrom leanúnach stát na Breataine ar phobal na Gaeilge, ní bheidh sé ar an duine deiridh.

“Chuir an pobal seo teachtaireacht láidir amach le blianta beaga anuas nach nglacfaidh siad le himeallú cultúrtha acu siúd a bhrúnn a rún coilíneach ar an tír, teachtaireacht shoiléir nach luífidh na craipithe fúthú choíche.”

 

Penal Laws Remain in Force in Britain’s Courts

The most recent attempt by members of the Irish language community to challenge the ban on the language in British courts ended in failure last Wednesday [July 8].

Caoimhín Mac Giolla Catháin, a native speaker from the Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht in Belfast, took a legal challenge after being informed that an application for a drinks license for a music concert would not be considered by the court because it was written in Irish.

The use of Irish has been banned in British courts since 1737, when the Ascendancy parliament in Dublin passed An Act that all Proceedings in Courts of justice within this Kingdom shall be in the English language – later renamed Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) 1737.

That act was introduced in response to a similar act in Britain, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the vast majority of the population of Ireland being monolingual Irish speakers at the time.

Members of POBAL outside the CourtThough these acts were introduced so that English would be the only language accepted in a British court, this has changed to the extent that Welsh and Gàidhlig are now frequently used in the courts in Scotland and Wales. The Irish language, however, is still very much beyond the pale.

Commenting on the High Court’s decision, Janet Muller of the Irish language advocacy group POBAL said: “The 1737 Act on the Administration of Justice is an anti-Irish language law. The Irish language is the only one in the north that is affected by this ban. Ethnic minority languages are accommodated every day in the courts in the north, as is right and proper. It is remarkable that the British government has so fiercely defended the continuing operation of such an old fashioned and discriminatory law, which is repressive of the Irish language and of Irish speakers… This case shows that the British government is once more guilty of operating a double standard in its treatment of the users of different indigenous languages on these islands.”

In dismissing the argument that the 1737 Act was incompatible with the European Charter for Regional and Minorities Language and that it breached the European Convention on Human Rights, judge Séamus Treacy declared that none of Mac Giolla Catháin’s rights were breached because he is capable of understanding English. Caoimhín is now considering taking the case to the European courts.

éirígí spokesperson Seán Mac Brádaigh said: “Once again, we see British institutions in Ireland denying Irish people the right to their identity and their language, this time using a 200-year-old throwback to the Penal Laws to trample on the Irish-speaking community.

“The High Court decision sends a clear message that no archaic, discriminatory piece of legislation is off limits, and that international commitments and treaties can be thrown out the window when it comes to persecuting Irish speakers. It again makes a mockery of British government lip service to notions of equality or diversity.”

Seán continued: “Caoimhín Mac Giolla Catháin was not the first Gaeilgeoir to challenge the British state’s continued discrimination against the Irish-language community, and he won’t be the last.

“This community has sent out a clear message in recent years that it will no longer accept cultural marginalisation by those who push their colonial agenda on the country, a clear message that the croppies will no longer lie down.”

 

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