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Lack of Irish in ‘after hours’ legislation leads to 2 acquittals

Two Claremorris publicans escaped conviction on a number of ‘after hours’ charges recently when their lawyers pointed out that the relevant legislation for the prosecutions being brought had not been translated into Irish.

Judge Mary Devins dismissed the two cases at Claremorris District Court despite the fact that the first piece of legislation under which these prosecutions were brought was enacted as far back as 2000. The Official languages Act 2003 requires that all enacted legislation must be published in both Irish and English and only came into effect in July 2006. A significant number of laws from before then – including the Intoxicating Liquor Acts – were only published in English.

According to a report in the Mayo Advertiser, the solicitor for one of the defendants, Michael Keane, stated, “Irish is the first language of the country and because the relevant legislation that my client was being prosecuted under wasn’t translated, the case had to fall, and the judge accepted that fact.”

In court, Dick Byrne of PJ Byrnes in Claremorris Main Street faced charges for six breaches of licensing laws including the sale of intoxicating liquor after hours, having a premises open for the sale of intoxicating liquor after hours and permitting intoxicating liquor to be consumed on his premises after hours.

Michael Keane told the court: “I have been given a letter from a colleague from the Office of Public Works which confirms that the Intoxicating Liquor Act in question is not available in Irish so any case will fall.”

The court was told that the letter confirmed that the Intoxicating Liquor Act’s 2000, 2003 and 2004 have yet to be translated into Irish.

The other publican, Patrick Coleman of Pajo’s Bar in Mount Street, Claremorris, was also found in breach on three separate occasions and was represented in court by Lynda Lenahan who had sourced the above letter from the OPW.

The court decision could have implications for publicans everywhere.

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