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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.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 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.
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.