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Judge astonished by gaping liquor licensing loophole

Liquor licensing loophole should be resolved in coming weeks

Trevor Quinn

Two Claremorris publicans had their respective ‘after-hours’ cases dismissed in Claremorris District Court last week as an astonished Judge Mary Devins said it was ‘quite unbelievable’ that Acts enacted 11 years ago had still not been translated in to Irish.
A spokesman at the Official Translation Department told The Mayo News that “because of resource constraints it had not been possible to publish Irish versions of all Acts for certain years prior to 2006”.
The spokesman added that the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2000 and 2003 were at an “advanced stage” however and he expected they would be made available over the coming weeks.
Dozens of laws have yet to be translated and this could prove to be pivotal in any legal cases where persons wish to take their case through Irish, as is their Constitutional right.
In July 2006 The Official Languages Act of 2003, required that all enacted laws be published concurrently in both Irish and English.
Letters from the OPW which solicitors Michael Keane and Lynda Lenehan presented to the court confirmed that the 2000, 2003 and 2004 Intoxicating Liquor Act’s have still not been translated into Irish as of July 1 2011.

Claremorris publicans
Solicitor Michael Keane, who was representing publican Dick Byrne of PJ Byrne’s, Main Street, Claremorris 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.”
Dick Byrne had been facing six charges relating to after-hours trade which incorporated having between 60 and 80 people on his premises at 2.40am on October 3, 2010. Garda John Monaghan said he was was let in by publican Dick Byrne, and retained a till receipt as evidence that after-hours trade was prevalent.
Solicitor Lynda Lenehan represented Mr Patrick Coleman of Ougham, Tubbercurry, Co Sligo the licensee of Pajo’s Bar, Mount Street, Claremorris in light of similar after-hours offences.
The Oireachtas spokesman said, “Rannóg an Aistriúcháin is tackling this backlog on a systematic basis and has put in place an arrangement whereby, if a request is made to provide an Irish version of any Act in connection with court proceedings, the Act will be given immediate priority and a translation provided in order to facilitate the request.”
The spokesman added that the official translations department is presently working through a backlog of translations, and he confirmed that no official translation of the Liquor Acts had been requested in the cases involving the Claremorris publicans.

Supreme court
Successive Supreme Court decisions have stated that the State must make Acts of the Oireachtas available through Irish. In May 2010 after a ten-year campaign solicitor Pól Ó Murchú was successful as the Supreme Court ruled that there is a Constitutional obligation to provide the Rules of Court in the Irish language “as soon as is practicable after they are published in English”. 
Commenting on the period of time it has taken for these translations to be completed Judge Devins said, “It amazes me that a translation of an English to Irish document can not be done in one day?”
Before dismissing the case Judge Devins said she was perplexed that despite the vast sums of money spent by the State in recent years the relevant intoxicating liquor legislation was not available in the Irish language.
Inspector Joe Doherty said it was his intention to speak to the DPP as soon as possible in relation to the issue. He said, “I will be looking in to it and hopefully it will be translated sooner rather than later”.
The legislation which was enacted in 2000 states that “the appellants have, together, a constitutional duty to issue and provide to the general public, including the applicant, an official version or an official translation in the first official language of all Acts of the Oireachtas, of all Statutory Instruments and of all Rules of Court”.
Solicitor Lynda Lenehan spoke with this newspaper after the case and she agreed that it was surprising that a technicality like this can arise. “In today’s age of technology it is unusual that it takes potentially 11 years for the act to be translated and available in the Irish language.”