[lg policy] Derry’s council delay decision on possible removal of Ulster Scots
haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Apr 13 12:45:31 EDT 2018
Derry’s council delay decision on possible removal of Ulster Scots [image:
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Derry’s council delay decision on possible removal of Ulster Scots] 13:15
Friday 13th of April 2018
By Alan Healy
THE rights of people who use Ulster Scots would not be impacted if Derry’s
council decided to remove it from all its signing and branding, it has
The information came to light earlier this week during a discussion on the
future of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s existing language
policies in respect of Irish and Ulster-Scots.
A report was brought before Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Governance
and Strategic Planning Committee, where councillors were presented with
three options on future policies.
Speaking at the meeting, Ellen Cavanagh, Lead Democratic Services and
Improvement Officer with the council, said that the council introduced
policies for Irish and Ulster-Scots in April 2015, which set out a range of
commitments to promote Irish and Ulster-Scots in public life.
She added that Derry City and Strabane District Council is the only one of
eleven in the North which has a trilingual policy in respect of corporate
branding and signage, meaning that it features English, Irish and
In January 2017, the council passed a resolution to ‘initiate a
comprehensive policy review on language usage including corporate branding
A cross-party Working Group was then established made up of Sinn Fein’s
Maolíosa McHugh, the SDLP’s John Boyle DUP councillor David Ramsey, the
UUP’s Derek Hussey and the independent councillor Gary Donnelly.
Three options were then presented at the meeting, the first being that
council retain its existing policy which would see the council’s corporate
brand remaining trilingual (English, Irish and Ulster-Scots) and that the
signage contains trilingual logo, trilingual welcome and trilingual heading.
Option 1 would also see the main body of text in English only in the likes
of Public Notices.
Option 2, meanwhile, would be the same in regards to branding and signage,
but the ‘enhancement of bilingual content’, meaning that more emphasis
would be put on English and Irish.
However, Option 3 would entail council adopt a bilingual policy for all
branding and signage, which would see the removal of Ulster Scots from the
corporate brand and only Irish and English used on signage.
Ms Cavanagh added that Options 2 and 3 represent changes to the use of
Ulster Scots on signage and within the corporate logo and branding.
However, she told the meeting that given that Option 3 represents the ‘most
significant policy change’, the Working Group considered the evidence and
assessment of the potential equality impacts of Option 3 as part of the
Equality Screening process.
The meeting was then told that ‘no adverse equality impacts have been
identified’ and the proposed policy would be screened out for Equality
“The rights of members of the public to access services and information in
Ulster-Scots is not diminished by a decision not to include Ulster-Scots on
branding and signage going forward,” she added.
Ms Cavanagh added that while the removal of Ulster-Scots here may have a
potential impact upon ‘Good Relations’, a range of ‘mitigating measures’
have been identified to address this.
She said that these measures including ‘tackling prejudice and promoting
understanding via Language Awareness programmes’ and ‘facilitating
increased communication between different linguistic groups’.
Commenting, the DUP’s David Ramsey cautioned council against making a
‘hasty decision’ on a sensitive issue, and warned that any proposed change
to the use of Ulster-Scots could ‘re-open’ divisions and create ‘new
He added that Ulster-Scots was used ‘on a daily basis in our speech’, and
proposed that any decision on the issue is deferred, which was seconded by
Sinn Fein’s Brian McMahon.
The SDLP’s John Boyle added that ‘more time’ to discuss the issue ‘may
afford a more mature debate’.
The independent councillor Gary Donnelly, who was also part of the working
group, then asked for ‘clarification’ on how long the matter would be
“When are we deferring this to?” he asked.
“We’ve had very lengthy discussions so there’s nothing hasty about this.
We’ve spoken to Ulster-Scots activists and there’s been a number of
meetings with the Working Group, so I don’t see where the SDLP are coming
from in seeking to defer it to have a more mature conversation.”
The DUP’s David Ramsey said that the deferral would allow a ‘wider range of
people’ to be involved in the discussions.
Cllr Donnelly then replied that his question on how long the matter would
be deferred hadn’t been answered.
“As long as necessary because we need the right result for everybody,”
Alderman Ramsey replied.
The independent unionist councillor Maurice Devenney warned that any
proposed change to the use of Ulster-Scots would send out a 'very severe
message’ to the community.
The matter was then put to a vote, with a majority supporting a deferral on
council accepting a new language policy.
*Pictured above: Our council is the only one of 11 in the North that has a
trilingual policy in respect of corporate branding and signage - meaning
that it features English, Irish and Ulster-Scots.*
Harold F. Schiffman
Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Phone: (215) 898-7475
Fax: (215) 573-2138
Email: haroldfs at gmail.com
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