DUBLIN, Ireland – An Irish priest facing drunk driving charges will have to go to court, after arguing that he should be let off because some of the forms used in his case were not available in the Irish language.
Father Donnchadh Ó Cuinn, a native Irish-speaker, was charged over four years ago with driving while over the legal limit for alcohol in Donegal. The priest, who also goes by Father Denis Quinn, denies the allegations.
The Irish constitution says citizens have the right to conduct business with the state in the Irish language which, despite being the official national language, has less than 80,000 native speakers.
At the time of his arrest, certain technical documents — including the breath alcohol form — were only available in English, although they have since been translated into Irish.
For four years, the Irish courts have been deliberating the case, and it had been adjourned nearly a dozen times.
A High Court judge this week ruled that language rights cannot be used to stop a trial but said the issue could be raised in the trial itself, meaning the priest will finally face his day in court.
A Romanian citizen making the same objection was told he would in December have to face trial. Officials said nearly 1,000 cases of driving while intoxicated could be affected if the courts held the lack of Irish language forms invalidated the arrest.