Call For British To Develop Irish Language Policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 17 14:32:01 UTC 2007

Call For British To Develop Irish Language Policy

Thu, Mar 15, 2007

The Council of Europe has called on the British government to develop a
comprehensive Irish language policy, including measures to meet the
increasing demand for Irish-medium education "as a matter of priority".
The Strasbourg-based Committee of Ministers backed the findings of an
86-page report from a Council of Europe watchdog monitoring the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which came into force in the
UK in July 2001.

The Charter commits the British government to safeguard and promote Welsh,
Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, Ulster-Scots, Cornish and Manx Gaelic.
Today's report, drawn up by a committee of independent experts, recommends
that British government: :: develops a comprehensive Irish language

:: gives more support for the printed media in Irish and Scottish

:: improves services in Welsh in health and social care facilities;

:: makes efforts to improve the position of Scots and Ulster Scots.

The report is based on monitoring of the minority language situation in
the UK between December 2005 and February last year. It says the main
responsibility for the practical implementation of the Charter's goals of
recognising and respecting the value of minority languages rests with
devolved authorities. However, central government has the final
responsibility to see the Charter is applied. The monitoring exercise had
revealed wide differences in the treatment of minority languages around
the country, it said.

In the North, where there have been demands for an Irish Language Act
similar to the south's Official Languages Act, representatives of Irish
speakers have reported problems promoting Irish because of demands for
equal treatment for the lesser-used Ulster Scots. As parity for Ulster
Scots is not practically possible, no action has been taken at all in some
cases following request for measures "appropriate to the Irish language".

The Democratic Unionist Party has branded the proposal for an Irish
language Act for Northern Ireland as iniquitous, divisive and
discriminatory and "sponsored by Sinn Fein".

c 2007


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