Ban on Irish language in courts to be challenged

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has announced plans to challenge laws preventing the use of the Irish language in Northern Ireland courts.

Mr Ó Muilleoir has confirmed that he has instructed counsel on his intention to challenge the penal provision in the Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) 1737.

Under the provisions of the Act, court proceedings in Northern Ireland must be carried out in English.

Similar pieces of legislation introduced for England and Scotland in 1731, and Wales in 1733, were repealed in 1863.

Mr Ó Muilleoir has been probing the issue since last month.

He explained: “Last month I met with legal professionals to discuss the ban on using the Irish language in courts.

“My ministerial portfolio includes responsibility for the regulation of members of the legal profession, and I would like to protect the rights of Irish speaking lawyers and all those who wish to use Irish in the courts.

“This type of legislation is not in use anywhere else in these islands and building on the work of the former DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, it is my intention to litigate against it.”