[lg policy] Belfast City Council to launch Language Strategy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat May 12 11:02:26 EDT 2018

 Belfast City Council to launch Language Strategy

Irish and Ulster-Scots among the languages being built into the strategy to
“promote, protect and enhance” them

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Andrew Madden <https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/authors/andrew-madden/>

   - 12:32, 11 MAY 2018
   - Updated12:33, 11 MAY 2018

News <https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/>

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Belfast City Council will next week launch its long-awaited Language
Strategy for 2018-2023.

The strategy will seek to “promote, protect and enhance” all languages
found in the city, including Irish and Ulster-Scots.

Sign language, that of new communities coming to Belfast, and languages and
communications for disabled people will also be included.

The Language Strategy is part of the council
<http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/all-about/belfast-city-council> ’s long term
plan for the city as set out in its Belfast Agenda.

Such a strategy will undoubtedly raise questions over one of main hurdles
preventing the return of a functioning Executive at Stormont: an Irish
Language Act.

Similar to the draft deal that made headlines in February, the council's
strategy also has a similar "three-stranded approach" to the issue, with a
focus on Irish, Ulster-Scots and all others languages.

According to the strategy document, it will “establish a transparent set of
principles for promoting, protecting and enhancing the linguistic diversity
of the city” and increase the profile of different languages, along with
their associated traditions.

It will also seek to address staff training and capacity needs in relation
“to the role linguistic diversity has in the workplace and in the delivery
of services”.
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Agreed by the council last year, the Language Strategy is informed by a
range of legislation, including the Good Friday Agreement, the EU Charter
of Fundamental Rights and the St Andrew’s Agreement.

In order to help deliver the strategy, the council agreed last year to
recruit two officers - one responsible for the “promotion, protection and
enhancement of Irish”, while the second officer will have “responsibility
for increasing access and inclusion for the other languages”

This week, BCC have advertised for the role of the Irish language officer,
after it was agreed by a majority of the council last October.

The second officer will also be recruited in the coming weeks and the posts
come with salaries of between £29,909 and £32,333 per year.
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Both officers are also expected to have "political sensitivity skills",
according to the job descriptions.

"The ability to deal with sensitive issues, using political awareness and
sensitivity, when working with elected members, senior managers and
representatives of outside organisations," it reads.

In October 2017, unionist councillors had proposed that one officer for all
languages be appointed, however the proposal was defeated in the chamber.

Lee Reynolds, DUP <http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/all-about/dup> group leader
at BCC, said his party "haven't accepted the need for the two language

"There was a political decision by the council and that is now being
implemented but, on the basis of what was identified as the needs of the
language groups in Belfast and how those would best be serviced, we still
believe that one officer would have been sufficient and could have
addressed the concerns of all the various language communities in Belfast,"
he said.
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Deirdre Hargey, Sinn Fein <http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/all-about/sinn-fein>
council group leader, said it was "a good day for the council".

"There's a language framework that has now been agreed, which has Irish
language and Ulster Scots policies and also minority policy. It's within
the context of rolling out those frameworks that these posts have been
created," she said.


 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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