An Garda Síochána Fails Irish Speakers Yet Again

An Garda Síochána has yet again denied service in Irish to a citizen, causing an enormous amount of additional stress to the man while on his way to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, in July 2013, according to evidence put before the court in Dublin yesterday, Thursday, 5 December 2013. The man in question requested to de dealt with through Irish when he was stopped by An Garda Síochána but the Garda involved told him he would have to speak English to him as the Garda didn’t have Irish. This failure is in complete breach of every citizen’s right to deal with An Garda Síochána in the Irish language, if the citizen so wishes.

The citizen concerned is a member of Conradh na Gaeilge and the organisation has expressed serious concern at how badly the man was treated by the Gardaí upon requesting service in Irish. Conradh na Gaeilge is constantly encouraging Irish speakers, especially young people, to openly use their Irish on a regular basis and a case such as this sends out the appalling message that not only will you be denied service through Irish, but that there may be further negative implications for you if you use the country’s first official language.

Donnchadh ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:

“This member of Conradh na Gaeilge suffered a great injustice after attempting to use Irish with An Garda Síochána, as is his right if he so chooses. It is simply not good enough that the state is ignoring the human rights of Irish citizens to use the first official language of this country. This man deserves an immediate apology and such a case should never again be repeated. To ensure this never happens again, Conradh na Gaeilge is advising An Garda Síochána to urgently implement an appropriate and failsafe code of practice for citizens who wish to use Irish.”

This story is only exacerbated when details are taken into account from the investigation issued by An Coimisinéir Teanga on 1 August 2012 regarding an incident where An Garda Síochána breached the statutory language obligation ratified in subsection 18(1) of the Official Languages Act, insofar as it concerned subsection 1.3 of the language scheme of An Garda Síochána, whereby the complainant was denied service in Irish in Dundrum, Dublin on 11 February 2011, before being arrested and taken in handcuffs to the Garda station. The following recommendation was made, amongst others, as a result of the investigation:

That Garda management ensure that all members of the force are aware within two months of the date of the report of their language duties under the Garda Síochána language scheme, in particular the provision that states that An Garda Síochána recognises the right of each citizen to conduct his/her business in Irish.

As evidenced in this incident involving a member of Conradh na Gaeilge in Beaumont in July, this important recommendation from the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga has not yet been implemented by An Garda Síochána. Conradh na Gaeilge will be requesting an urgent meeting with the Garda Commissioner to discuss the incident in Beaumont, and many other incidents that have come to the attention of the organisation in relation to An Garda Síochána refusing to provide service through Irish and / or negative implications arising from these refusals. An Garda Síochána must implement an appropriate and failsafe code of practice for citizens who wish to use Irish as a matter of urgency. END


Donnchadh Ó hAodha,
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)87 2421267 / +353 (0)1 4757401

Julian de Spáinn,
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)86 8142757 / +353 (0)1 4757401

Date: 6 December 2013
For immediate release


Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish courses in Dublin, Galway, Tipperary, Mayo and other locations around the country.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge