On March 5, 2014, Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais, Cisteoir (National Treasurer) Sinn Féin Poblachtach, from Dublin, was arrested in Derry city by the PSNI under the Anti-terrorism laws for refusing to answer questions put to him.
All of Diarmuids documentation is in the Irish language as this is his first language, so naturally he gave his name and address in Irish when stopped and searched under Section 21. Having given his name and address as Gaeilge this was not accepted by the PSNI who asked him to either spell it or change it to English. Diarmuid refused to do either.
He was subsequently arrested and taken to Strand Road barracks where he was held overnight. In the early hours of the morning he got a visit from two MI5 agents asking him if he wished to give any information on dissident republican activity. Diarmuid refused to even acknowledge their presence.
The charge stems from the simple fact that Diarmuid used his native language. This fact reinforces the point that within the PSNI it is still deemed a crime to use the Irish language, despite the Stormont Agreement commitment to …full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities.
On March 6 he was taken to Derry court where he was charged with refusing to answer questions put to him. The judge was surprised that the sum total of the charge was that Diarmuid used Irish and went as far as to ask what would have happened had Diarmuid been Romanian or Chinese. Diarmuid is currently on bail.
Diarmuid appeared in court on May 1 and 16 when the case was further remanded. The PPS is to press ahead with the charges and the case will be heard this coming Friday, May the 30.
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