Peadar Ó Maicín v Éire

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice John MacMenamin,Mr. Justice Hardiman,O'Neill J.
Judgment Date27 February 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] IESC 12
CourtSupreme Court
Docket Number[Uimh. C.U. 292 de 2010],[S.C. No. 292 of 2010]
Date27 February 2014
O Maicin v Ireland & Ors
[2014] IESC 12
JUDICIAL REVIEW
Between/
Peadar Ó Maicín
Applicant/Appellant

and

Ireland, The Attorney General, The Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, His Honour Raymond Groarke and the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondents
PEADAR Ó MAICÍN
Applicant/Appellant

and

IRELAND, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE EQUALITY AND LAW REFORM, HIS HONOUR JUDGE RAYMOND GROARKE AND THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Respondents
Applicant

[2014] IESC 12

[Record No: 292/2010]
[RECORD NO: 292/2010]
292/2010
[Appeal no. 292/2010]

THE SUPREME COURT

Judicial review - Criminal law - Jury panel - Representation of community - Language rights - Right to conduct official business in the Irish language without translation - Absolute rights - Limitations - State obligations - Constitution of Ireland

This appeal examined the extent of the entitlement of an accused person to have a criminal trial conducted in Irish without translation so far, at least, as their own participation in the trial is concerned. The appellant was a native speaker of the Irish language who had been charged with two offences of assault. He was subsequently returned for jury trial to the Circuit Criminal Court. It was indicated by the appellant that he would be defending the charges in the Irish language, and he asserted a right that the trial should take place before a judge and jury capable of understanding him without translation.

The State objected to this request on the basis that it would be impossible to provide a jury who could understand him directly and that the provision of such a jury would necessarily involve the imposition of some sort of test of competence in the Irish language, which was at odds with the need for a jury to be selected by a random process. An application for judicial review was brought challenging this decision but it was rejected on the basis of the second argument that had been advanced by the State. An appeal of that decision was then initiated in the Supreme Court.

Held by Clarke J. (with O"Donnell Donal J. concurring and Hardiman J. dissenting) that given the fact that Article 8.1 of the Constitution of Ireland states that Irish is the 'first official language' of Ireland, the State had certain obligations to ensure that those who wished to conduct their business using the Irish language could do so, particularly when the business was with the State. Nevertheless, the State was also constitutionally obligated to ensure that a jury was correctly composed and selected. It was, therefore, said that there were three issues to be determined: the extent of any language rights enjoyed by the appellant; the constitutional obligations in regards to the composition of a jury; and the extent to which a conflict between any rights and obligations arising under the first two questions could be resolved.

On the first issue, it was clear from Article 8.3 of the Constitution that the State had an obligation to promote and respect the high status of the Irish language. Nevertheless, it was said that the case of MacCarthaigh v. Eire [1999] I.R. 200 showed that there were limitations on the rights which those who may wish to use Irish can enjoy. As such, the right to conduct official business in Irish was not absolute and had to be balanced against any other competing constitutional interests. On the second issue, it was held that Article 38.5 of the Constitution and established case law demonstrated that there was a State obligation to ensure that juries are broadly representative or represent a fair cross-section of the community. This clearly meant that if a jury panel was unrepresentative, it was unconstitutional.

Finally, the third issue was considered. It was noted that in the case of MacCarthaigh - which was broadly similar to the facts of the present case – it had been held that the limited number of Irish speakers at that time meant that a jury panel made up exclusively of such individuals would be unrepresentative of the community. It was noted that no argument had been advanced that the number of Irish speakers had dramatically increased since the time when the MacCarthaigh judgment was delivered. It was also pointed out that it had not been established that it would be possible to empanel a jury with sufficient competence in Irish to conduct an important criminal trial without the assistance of a translator even in Gaeltacht areas. For those reasons, it was held that the appellant"s constitutional right to conduct official business in Irish had to give way to the constitutional obligation for jury panels to be truly representative. It was pointed out, however, that if underlying conditions were to change then the balance between this language right and that constitutional imperative to have a jury broadly representative of the community could adjust.

Appeal dismissed.

CONSTITUTION ART 8.1

CONSTITUTION ART 38.5

O MAICIN v EIRE & ORS UNREP MURPHY 14.5.2010 2010/41/10413 2010 IEHC 179

CONSTITUTION ART 38

CONSTITUTION ART 40.3.3

SHEEHAN, STATE v GOVT OF IRELAND 1987 IR 550 1988 ILRM 437

O'FOGHLUDHA & ORS v MCCLEAN 1934 IR 469

O BEOLAIN v DISTRICT JUDGE FAHY & ORS 2001 2 IR 279 2001/18/4947

CONSTITUTION ART 8.3

CONSTITUTION ART 8

MACCARTHAIGH v IRELAND & ORS 1999 1 IR 200 1980-1998 IR (SR) 127

KELLY & ORS THE IRISH CONSTITUTION 3ED 1994 657

DE BURCA & ANDERSON v AG 1976 IR 38

BYRNE, STATE v FRAWLEY 1978 IR 326

TAYLOR v LOUISIANA 1975 419 US 522

EVANS BILINGUAL JURIES? 2007 38 CAMBRIAN LR 145

NON-FATAL OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON ACT 1997 S3

FIREARMS & OFFENSIVE WEAPONS ACT 1990 S11

CONSTITUTION OF THE IRISH FREE STATE ART 4

CONSTITUTION ART 8.2

LAW REFORM CMSN CONSULTATION PAPER ON JURY SERVICE (LRC CP 61-2010) 112-113

JURIES ACT 1976 S9(2)

CONSTITUTION ART 4

CONSTITUTION ART 5

CONSTITUTION ART 38.1

C (C) v IRELAND & ORS 2006 4 IR 1

COURTS SERVICE ANNUAL REPORT 2011 17

MINISTERS & SECRETARIES (AMDT) ACT 1956 S2

GAELTACHT ACT 2012 S6

GAELTACHT ACT 2012 S5

GAELTACHT ACT 2012 PART I

GAELTACHT ACT 2012 S7

JURIES ACT 1976 S5

JURIES ACT 1976 S12

CIRCUIT COURT RULES 2001 SI 510/2001

RSC O.86

KOHN THE CONSTITUTION OF THE IRISH FREE STATE 1932 124

CONSTITUTION ART 20

CONSTITUTION ART 25

CONSTITUTION ART 25.4.3

CONSTITUTION ART 25.4.4

CONSTITUTION ART 15.2

MOGUL OF IRELAND LTD v TIPPERARY (NORTH RIDING) CO COUNCIL 1976 IR 260

O MURCHU v CLARAITHEOIR NA GCUIDEACHTAI 1980-1998 IR (SR) 112 1990/8/2171

MACCARTHAIGH v EIRE & ORS 1999 1 IR 186

CONSTITUTION ART 3

SHULMAN NO HABLO INGLES: COURT INTERPRETATION AS A MAJOR OBSTACLE TO FAIRNESS FOR NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING DEFENDANTS 1993 46 VAND L REV 175

R v POORAN; R v VAILLANT UNREP BROWN 4.3.2011 2011 ABPC 77

JURIES ACT 1976 S11

JURIES ACT 1976 S15(3)

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S8

JURIES ACT 1976 S5(2)

JURY DISTRICTS ORDER 2013 SI 115/2013

LAW REFORM CMSN CONSULTATION PAPER ON JURY SERVICE (LRC CP; 61-2010) 112-113

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S8(4)

JURIES ACT 1976 SCHED 1 PART I

JURIES ACT 1976 S5(1)

CIVIL LIABILITY ACT 1961 S60

HOGAN & WHYTE JM KELLY: THE IRISH CONSTITUTION 4ED 2003 380

DOHERTY v GOVT OF IRELAND & AG 2011 2 IR 222 2011 2 ILRM 516 2010/12/2901 2010 IEHC 369

COURTS OF JUSTICE ACT 1924 S44

CONSTITUTION ACT 1982 PART I (CANADA)

CANADA ACT 1982 SCHED B (UK)

CONSTITUTION ACT 1982 SS16-22 (CANADA)

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF NEW BRUNSWICK ACT 1969 (CANADA)

HELIE MICHEL BASTARACHE'S LANGUAGE RIGHTS LEGACY 2009 47 SCLR (2D) 377

CONSTITUTION ACT 1867 (CANADA)

INNIS BILINGUALISM & BICULTURALISM: AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE ROYAL CMSN REPORT 1973

CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS & FREEDOMS ACT 1982 (CANADA)

SCHULLER & VIDMAR THE CANADIAN CRIMINAL JURY 2010-11 86 CHI-KENT L REV 497

R v BEAULAC 173 DLR (4TH) 193 1999 1 SCR 768

REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC, IN RE 1998 2 SCR 217 161 DLR (4TH)

ARSENAULT-CAMERON & ORS v GOVT OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND 1999 3 SCR 851

EEC REG 1257/2010

EEC DIR 2010/64

M'BRIDE v M'GOVERN 1906 2 IR 181

SUMMARY JURISDICTION (IRL) ACT 1851 S12(1)

GROENER v MIN FOR EDUCATION & CITY OF DUBLIN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE 1989 ECR 3967 1990 1 CMLR 401

TREATY OF ROME ART 177

TREATY OF ROME ART 48(3)

EEC REG 1612/68 ART 3

FEDERACION DE DISTRIBUIDORES CINEMATOGRAFICOS v ESTADO ESPANOL & UNION DE PRODUCTORES DE CINE Y TELEVISION 1994 EMLR 153 1993 ECR I-2239

HARTLEY THE FOUNDATIONS OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITY LAW 6ED 2007 68

GAELTACHT AREAS ORDER 1956 SI 245/1956 S2

O MONACHAIN v AN TAOISEACH & ORS 1986 ILRM 660 1980-1998 IR SR 1 1980-1998 IR SR 71

AG, SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN v OPEN DOOR COUNSELLING LTD & DUBLIN WELLWOMAN CENTRE LTD 1988 IR 593

MCGIMPSEY v IRELAND & ORS 1990 1 IR 110 1990 ILRM 441 1990/4/989

ART 26 OF THE CONSTITUTION & CRIMINAL LAW (JURISDICTION) BILL 1975, IN RE 1977 IR 129 1976 109 ILTR 69

CONSTITUTION ART 2

COURTS OF JUSTICE ACT 1924 S71

MAC FHEARRAIGH, STATE v MAC GAMHNIA 1980-1998 IR (SR) 29 1980-1998 IR (SR) 99 1990/7/2015

CONSTITUTION ART 38.3

CONSTITUTION ART 38.4

THIEL v SOUTHERN PACIFIC CO 1946 328 US 217

JURIES ACT 1927 S3

CONSTITUTION ART 40

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S2

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S8(1)

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S8(2)

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S8(3)

1

Note: This is an approved translation of the judgment which was delivered in Irish

2

Judgment of Mr. Justice Clarke delivered the 27th February, 2014.

3

JUDGMENT of O'Neill J. delivered on the 27th day of February, 2014

4

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Hardiman delivered the 27th day of February, 2014.

5

Judgment of Mr. Justice John MacMenamin delivered the 27th day of February, 2014.

6

Judgments delivered by Clarke J, O'Neill J, Hardiman J & MacMenamin J

1. Introduction
7

2 1.1 The special status...

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