You Have the Right to Remain Signing

Deaf People and the Irish Justice System


  • Lorraine Mary Leeson Trinity College Dublin
  • Sophie Flynn Trinity College Dublin
  • Teresa Lynch Trinity College Dublin
  • Haaris Sheikh Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited and Trinity College Dublin



Irish Sign Language, Sign Language Interpreting, Legal Settings, Police, Court, Prison, Deaf, Sign Language Users, Irish Sign Language Act 2017, UNCRPD


This paper presents a first snapshot of what we know about how the Irish justice system responds to deaf signers. We look specifically at engagement with An Garda Síochána, the District Court and the Irish Prison Service. We draw on a body of data that stems from (i) the European Commission funded Justisigns Project, (ii) the ‘grey literature’, and (iii) a small study of how equally deaf prisoners access services available to hearing prisoners. We set out to document and benchmark provisions, mapping current practice against the requirements of the European Directives, and reflecting on how these sit with respect to the obligations outlined in the Irish Sign Language Act (2017) and the UNCRPD (2006). We identify a number of gaps arising from systemic issues such as the siloed manual recording of requests for interpreting, quality assurance protocols where interpreters are provided (e.g. the video recording of all parties), and arising from this, the limited opportunities for true evidence-led practice for all those engaged with deaf signers in the Irish justice system.




How to Cite

Leeson, L. M., Flynn, S., Lynch, T., & Sheikh, H. (2020). You Have the Right to Remain Signing: Deaf People and the Irish Justice System. TEANGA, the Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, 11, 142–173.