Irish language group criticises emergency breathalyser law

Conradh na Gaeilge
Conradh na Gaeilge

Conradh na Gaeilge has criticised the introduction of emergency legislation that allows breathalyser test statements to be issued in English only.

The Irish language forum and cultural association said the move could precede further legislative changes that undermine the role of the Irish language.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe signed a piece of emergency legislation on Tuesday after the High Court ruled that breathalyser test statements are only valid if issued in both the English and Irish languages.

The Evidenzer machines in garda stations are typically only used to issue statements in English.

The legislation has now been amended so that statements can be provided in either language.

Julian De Spáinn, general secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, said it would have been better for gardaí to take responsibility for failing to provide bilingual statements rather than for the law to be changed.

He told the Irish Independent: “This simple problem that needed to be solved was that this information should have been provided bilingually from the start.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “Had an alternative of a statement in Irish and English been chosen, it would have been necessary to reprogram all EBT machines across the country.

“This would have meant taking the apparatus out of service for a period, and losing the facility to use them until reprogrammed.”

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