Supreme Court to hear State’s appeal over Irish language obligations
Posted on 10th March 2022 at 20:18
Judges say appeal raises important legal issues that may impact on public administration in general
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an Irish language appeal examining the extent to which the State is obliged to provide Irish translations of certain statutory instruments.
In a determination written in Irish, a panel of three Supreme Court judges said the State’s appeal raises important legal issues that may have an impact not only on other litigation but also on public administration in general.
The State’s “leapfrog” appeal, which sees the Court of Appeal bypassed, arises from the judgment of the High Court’s Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon.
She ruled last May that the State was obliged to provide an Irish version of certain planning documents required by Siobhán Denvir-Bairéad and her companies Gleann Mór Céibh Teoranta and Gleann Mór Cuan Teoranta.
The proceedings are against the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, An Bord Pleanála, Ireland and the Attorney General.
Ms Justice O’Hanlon found people who wanted to use the Irish language on an everyday basis “have constitutional rights to do so and the State has a constitutional obligation to facilitate the use of Irish by citizens on an equal footing with English”.
The Supreme Court panel, comprising Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, considered this was an “exceptional case” warranting a direct appeal from the High Court.
According to the judges, the State parties argued in the High Court that the plaintiffs were mistaken in their interpretation of the Irish Constitution. In their view, any translation obligation under Article 25 applies only to Acts of the Oireachtas. If the drafters of the Constitution had wanted it to apply to statutory instruments, they would have indicated this, it was submitted.
The State parties acknowledged Article 8 provides for language rights, but they did not accept the refusal to translate certain statutory instruments had created an obstacle had for Irish speakers.
The Court considers to be of general public importance the question of whether the State is obliged to provide a translation of certain statutory instruments, and if so how far that duty goes.
Further questions have arisen concerning the correct interpretation of Articles 8 and 25 of the Constitution, although these issues may be narrowed prior to the hearing, they said.
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