Every garda will be issued with a laminated list of basic Irish phrases, following an incident in which a man stopped for a minor road traffic matter was arrested, handcuffed and detained at a Garda station until an officer with sufficient knowledge of Irish could be found to deal with him.
“Speaking Irish isn’t a crime, but this young man was treated as if it was,” said Irish language commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin in Galway yesterday when he outlined details of the incident, which occurred last year in Dublin.
New protocols have been agreed by Garda management in response to the investigation, as it has emerged that some gardaí who took Irish at school and studied it again at Templemore training college are unable to ask “Cad is ainm duit?”, said Mr Ó Cuirreáin.
Speaking at the publication of his annual report, Mr Ó Cuirreáin praised the reaction of the Garda Commissioner and senior management.
Gardaí have a statutory obligation under their Irish language scheme to respect the rights of any person trying to do their business in English or Irish, said Mr Ó Cuirreáin.
The Central Bank, Department of Justice and Equality, Health Service Executive and University of Limerick are among bodies and organisations subject to 13 inquiries by the language commissioner last year.
Traffic signs in English only and an absence of Civil Service staff competent to deal with the public in both official languages are among other issues highlighted in the report.