In response to a Freedom of Information request from North Down SDLP politician and Scots-speaker Liam Logan, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has revealed the membership of the Ulster-Scots Academy Steering Group appointed by the Minister, Nelson McCausland. The six members of the group, which is chaired by former civil servant Wilfie Hamilton, are:
Keith Gamble, a board member of the Ulster-Scots Community Network formerly chaired by the Minister;
Dr. Ivan Herbison, a retired lecturer at the School of English, QUB;
Dr. William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation and former board member of the Ulster-Scots Agency;
Anne Smyth, an Ulster-Scots activist, wife of Dr. Clifford Smyth (guest speaker at the LOL 688 lodge dinner held at Rockmount Golf Club in November 2008, at which Anne played accordion), and mother of Alan Smyth, a member of the same lodge;
Mark Thompson, former Chairman of the Ulster-Scots Agency and a member of LOL 688.
This means that, while the group boasts a single academic linguist, it includes two people with links to the Minister's own Loyal Orange Lodge, the Cross of Saint Patrick. Furthermore, the fact that as much weight has been accorded to doctoral non-linguists as to doctoral linguists suggests that the Minister intends the academy to duplicate the functions of the Ulster-Scots Agency, while lacking its cross-border membership.
The choice of nominees also underlines the exclusion of the more moderate activists of the Ullans Academy in the ambit of Dr. Ian Adamson, as well as Scots and, unless the Blether Region is very much mistaken, Catholics. As the DCAL official answering the information request states, the appointments "do not need to go through the normal board appointment processes and are not subject to the merit principle".