Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir instructs officials to begin work on challenging ban on Irish language in courts

Sinn Fein Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir has instructed officials to begin work on challenging a 280-year-old ban on the use of the Irish language in courts.

Mr O Muilleoir on Friday confirmed he has instructed counsel on his intention to challenge the penal provision in the 1737 Act.

It has been in force for almost three centuries and requires all court proceedings to be in English.

It makes it a criminal offence for any other language to be used.

The Finance Minister said: “Last month I met with legal professionals to discuss the ban on using the Irish language in courts. My ministerial portfolio includes responsibility for the regulation of members of the legal profession, and I would like to protect the rights of Irish speaking lawyers and all those who wish to use Irish in the courts.

"This type of legislation is not in use anywhere else in these islands and building on the work of the former DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, it is my intention to litigate against it.”

The equivalents of the Act passed for England and Scotland in 1731 and Wales in 1733 were repealed in 1863, and the Act was also repealed in the South by the Statute Law Revision (Pre-Union Irish Statutes) Act 1962.

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