Issue 9

Rheithgorau Dwyieithog: Penbleth Geltaidd? (Bilingual Juries: A Celtic Dilemma?)

Although the criminal justice system is not a devolved matter, elements of criminal law administration, which is the process of implementing the law, have developed distinctive Welsh structures and aspects. This can be seen in the context of Assembly Government crime prevention policies, and in particular the issue of youth crime, for example. In a sense, the identity of Wales within the constitution has led to the creation of certain distinctively Welsh processes and policies in terms of criminal justice administration.

This paper gives consideration to a specific issue relating to criminal justice and its relationship to identity, within two jurisdictions. The question under discussion is, should there be a right to bilingual juries in certain criminal cases in Wales and Ireland. I shall analyse the relationship between jury service as an obligation and privilege of citizenship, and the competence of Irish and Welsh speakers as a linguistic group for jury service. The analysis will consider also the relationship between the concept of jury service as a privilege of citizenship and the rights and interests of individual speakers within the criminal justice system.

It can be seen that this is a matter that demands a multifaceted evaluation from a variety of perspectives. This paper deals also with the objection to bilingual juries, and considers how granting bilingual juries can be consistent with the principle of random jury selection (the basis of the main objection to bilingual juries in Wales and Ireland), thus securing a representative, competent, fair and impartial tribunal.


Law, juries, bilingualism, Ireland, criminal justice, citizenship.


Parry, R. (2011), 'Rheithgorau Dwyieithog: Penbleth Geltaidd?', Gwerddon, 9, 9-36. 

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