Monday, 26 April 2010

Committee of Experts Slams Languages Strategy

The Committee of Experts responsible for assessing the United Kingdom’s implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has issued its third monitoring report.

Of the many remarks contained therein, it is the matter of linkage between the fates of Irish and Ulster Scots that stands out:

"In the previous evaluation report (paragraph 32), the Committee of Experts observed that inappropriate claims for parity of treatment between Irish and Ulster Scots in a number of instances led to the result that no measures were taken for either language, since it was not practically possible to apply the measures to Ulster Scots. The Committee of Experts encountered similar issues in the current monitoring round, in particular in the general support of the languages. For instance, the opinion was even presented to the Committee of Experts that before any further steps were taken to promote Irish, the Ulster Scots language should be brought to the same position.

The Charter is based on treating each regional or minority language in accordance with its specific situation. The situation of the two languages is quite different, and language measures specifically directed towards each language are needed. That is the only way that both languages can be protected and promoted according to their specific needs.

[…] the authorities mention in their third periodical report that the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006, places a statutory duty on the Northern Ireland Executive to adopt a strategy to enhance and protect the Irish Language. So far no strategy has been adopted. However, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) informed the Committee of Experts during the on-the-spot visit about his intentions to bring forward in the near future a single strategy for Irish and Ulster Scots entitled "A Strategy for Indigenous or Regional Minority Languages". During the time of the on-the-spot visit the draft strategy was out for consultation with Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster Scots Agency. The Committee of Experts was informed, through other sources, that the intention of the strategy would be to strive towards parity between the two languages, including an equal amount of funding. If that is the intention, the Committee of Experts is concerned that such a strategy will not serve the needs of either the Irish-speakers or the Ulster Scots-speakers and is likely to hold back the development of both languages […]"

It appears that, far from rejecting such linkages because of their negative effect, the Minister is intent on retaining them — and on reinforcing the confessional associations that serve to justify them, such as by celebrating the opening of an Ulster-Scots centre in an Orange Hall, despite the fact that up to one third of speakers are Catholics or Nationalists.

Agencies, academies and resource centres — but only with an obligatory side-order of sectarian porn.

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