An Irish language teacher is fined for refusing to answer in English when questioned by the RUC.

In May 1984, 27 year old teacher Breandán Ó Fiaich was stopped at an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) checkpoint in Belfast and spoke only in Irish when questioned. Breandán Ó Fiaich was summonsed to court and demanded an interpreter. Resident magistrate Basil McIvor refused the request saying that he could not accept that a man from Belfast could not speak or at least understand English.

Ba mhaith liom fear teangaire

A member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and two RUC policemen gave evidence about questioning Mr Ó Fiaich about his identity and movements. They say he replied in a language that they assumed to be Irish. The RUC officers also said that they had heard Mr Ó Fiaich speak in English while he was in custody.

Mr Ó Fiaich was fined £50 for failing to give information to members of Her Majesty's Forces. The fine was paid by a student who had offered to act as an interpreter despite Mr Ó Fiaich saying that he did not want to pay the fine. 

Speaking in Irish to RTÉ News after the hearing, Mr Ó Fiaich said that he understands Irish better than English would do the same again if stopped by the police or troops.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 July 1984. The reporter is Cathal Mac Coille.