Language forum warns of 'slippery slope' after ruling
NEW emergency legislation that changes the legal requirement that alcohol breath statements be provided in both English and Irish may be a slippery slope in denying native speakers their language rights, Conradh na Gaeilge has warned.
The Irish language forum claimed the change in law was deflecting blame from the gardaí who had made the mistake of not providing bilingual statements in the first place.
The amendment was signed into law by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe after a loophole emerged that would potentially allow for hundreds of current drink-drive cases to be dismissed because gardaí did not provide statements in both languages as required under road traffic laws.
The replacement 'Statutory Instrument' now stipulates that breath alcohol test statements may be produced in either the English or the Irish language.
"This simple problem that needed to be solved was that this information should have been provided bilingually from the start," said general secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge Julian De Spáinn.
The Department of Transport said that it had not, in the new SI, opted for bilingual forms as this would have involved recalling the Evidential Breath Test (EBT) machines, which could have taken weeks.
"Had an alternative of a statement in Irish and English been chosen, it would have been necessary to reprogramme all EBT machines across the country," said a spokesperson.
"This would have meant taking the apparatus out of service for a period, and losing the facility to use them until reprogrammed."