Man charged for speaking Irish to police

Published Monday, 07 April 2014
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A man has appeared in court on anti-terrorism charges after he gave his name and address to police in Irish.

Man charged for speaking Irish to police
The case was adjourned until May. (© UTV)

Dermot Douglas of Mellows Park in Dublin appeared in Londonderry Magistrates' Court last week charged with not giving his details to the best of his ability under the Justice and Security Act on 6 March.

Defence solicitor Brian Stelfox told the court his client had come out of a house in the Creggan area of the city and had been stopped by police and gave his details in Irish.

District Judge Barney McElholm asked: "Is the sum total of this case that he gave his name in Irish?"

Mr Stelfox said the 49-year-old had "quite happily" allowed the police to search him and then had given his name and address in Irish before he was arrested.

He said while in the Strand Road police station he was offered a caution but refused to accept it "on principle" as he felt he had complied with the law.

A prosecution lawyer asked for the case to be adjourned for four weeks for further investigation, however, Mr Stelfox said he was "at a loss to see how there could be any further investigation".

Judge McElholm said: "One wonders what would have happened if Mr Douglas had been Romanian or Chinese."

The defence solicitor said his client felt he was entitled to have the case heard in Irish.

The judge confirmed that it could be heard in Irish as long as there was "due consideration for the public purse".

The case was adjourned and Douglas will appear again on 1 May in order to see, as Judge McElholm put it, "if we can get this resolved".

© UTV News
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81 Comments
The Original "Observer" in Online - not in UK or anywhere else!! wrote (252 days ago):
Diarmuid mac Dubhghlais in Dublin - your comment was perfectly clear and easy to understand, however had you wrote ALL OF IT in Gaelic knowing that I only speak and read English that would be a different matter entirely. Do you see the difference?
Diarmuid mac Dubhghlais in Dublin wrote (253 days ago):
"Dermot Douglas" here. ON ALL my documentation my name is Diarmuid mac Dubhghlais. So irrespective of language, is it my name. I shouldn't have to Anglicize it for anyone. Would a Spaniard by the name of Jose de Rosa be charged under the name the Joseph Rose. NO!
John in Maghera wrote (253 days ago):
Surprises me that no-one left their comment in Irish - Is that because they would not get their point across given that we don't speak or understand Irish!
HK in Ireland wrote (254 days ago):
It is my understanding that Irish is one of the official languages of Northern Ireland (along with English and Ulster Scots). It seems silly to not accept a name and address in a country's official language... If someone is stopped and questioned in England, he should answer in the country's official language - English (assuming he can speak it). If stopped in Wales, he should be allowed to answer in Welsh or English, both official languages of the country. Additionally, he may be used to using his Irish address in Ireland. Even if, for example, a German visitor was stopped, spoke perfect English and was asked his address, of course it will be in German! As the guy lives in Dublin, it's unlikely that he could speak Irish but not English... It's quite possible that the guy was just being awkward but it's equally possible that he was reciprocating a hostile tone used by the officers in question. In my experience, don't be a d*** to the police (PSNI, Garda, or whomever) and you won't have a problem.
Iain in Belfast wrote (254 days ago):
So under the headline "man charged for speaking Irish to police" Ryan bleets about the oo and twadell. Sorry Ryan but remind me just what they have to do with the story? That chip still remains upon your shoulder. Speaking Irish in Ireland isn't a crime and everyone knows the oo/twadell are idiots. But please take those blinkers off Ryan.....
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