1 March 2007 Edition

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Teacher fined for speaking in Irish

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has called for the rights of Irish speakers to be defended by strong legislation after judgement was given in the case against Máire Nic an Bhaird.
The Irish language teacher was found guilty of disorderly behaviour and fined £100 in a Belfast court last week following a long-running case which has been the focus of considerable controversy.
Máire Nic an Bhaird was arrested last year when she replied in Irish after being stopped by a PSNI officer. In court, the PSNI accused Nic an Bhaird of addressing them in Irish in an aggressive manner as she and her companions passed them on the Malone Road.
Speaking after the judgement, de Brún said that she was astonished and angry. “This young woman should never have found herself in court were it not for the fact that she spoke Irish in the streets of Belfast,” said de Brún.
“I am also concerned that Ms Nic an Bhaird was denied the right to have the papers relating to the case in Irish, or to have the court case in Irish. This flies in the face of the Good Friday Agreement and the European Charter on Regional and Minority languages.”

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