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Force told to carry cards with phrases as Gaeilge

GARDAI have been told to carry information cards with common Irish phrases such as 'Cad is anim duit?' on foot of a recommendation from the Language Commissioner.

It follows a case where a motorist, stopped in relation to a minor road traffic offence, was arrested, put in handcuffs and brought to a garda station where he was held for an hour until a garda fluent in Irish arrived. The man had insisted on speaking in Irish to the gardai.

An Coimisineir Teanga, Sean O Cuirreain, who investigated a complaint by the motorist, said he was surprised that neither of the two gardai were able to ask him "Cad is anim duit?", or ask for his address in Irish.

Under the Official Languages Act, the public can use Irish or English when interacting with gardai.

An Garda Siochana said that, as a national organisation with 14,200 gardai and 2,700 civilian staff spread across 700 stations and offices, it will encounter difficulties in having personnel with the necessary skills "at every location or interface with the public".

Mr O Cuirreain said there was an attitude in the force that Irish speakers should be dealt with as if they were foreign nationals.

His office dealt with 756 cases last year – up 3pc on 2011. The majority were resolved by negotiations.

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