Nelson McCausland: ‘There is no single UK-wide approach to minority languages’

A Bun-sgoil Taobh na P�irce (Gaelic School)'in Scotland. Scotland has an Irish language act, which is different in scope to the Welsh language act. England has no language act that covers Cornish, in the same way that Northern Ireland has no Irish language act. 'Pic Neil Hanna
A Bun-sgoil Taobh na P�irce (Gaelic School)'in Scotland. Scotland has an Irish language act, which is different in scope to the Welsh language act. England has no language act that covers Cornish, in the same way that Northern Ireland has no Irish language act. 'Pic Neil Hanna

In his letter (‘I don’t agree with Arlene Foster on much but she is right about scare-mongering over Irish language,’ October 14) in which he supported “comprehensive Irish language legislation”, Ian James Parsley stated that this would “bring Northern Ireland largely into line with equivalent jurisdictions, notably Scotland, in providing a legislative basis for promotion of Celtic languages”.

He also said that we should be “willing to learn from good practice in the rest of the UK”.

Nelson McCausland. Photograph by Declan Roughan'' Press Eye

Nelson McCausland. Photograph by Declan Roughan'' Press Eye

By referring to ‘equivalent jurisdictions’ and ‘the rest of the UK’ he was suggesting that Northern Ireland is somehow out of line with ‘the rest of the UK’.

However that is not the case.

There is no single approach across ‘the rest of the UK’ and so Northern Ireland cannot be out of line with ‘the rest of the UK’.

If we look across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are four ‘Celtic languages’ – Cornish in England, Scottish Gaelic in Scotland, Welsh in Wales and Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland.

Paula Bradshaw MLA (Alliance), centre, with other politicians and other activists demanding a standalone Irish language act.''Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Paula Bradshaw MLA (Alliance), centre, with other politicians and other activists demanding a standalone Irish language act.''Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye

There is a Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act in Scotland and a Welsh Language Act in Wales but there is no Cornish language act in England, just as there is no Irish language act in Northern Ireland.

So Northern Ireland is in line with England, whereas Scotland and Wales are out of line with both England and Northern Ireland.

The ‘out of line’ with ‘the rest of the UK’ argument simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is disingenuous.

Ian Parsley takes a keen interest in minority languages, as does his wife Paula Bradshaw, the Alliance Party MLA for South Belfast.

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Letters to Editor

Indeed she was the person who represented the Alliance Party at a Conradh na Gaelige photoshoot on 30 August in support of a standalone Irish language act.

Both Ian and Paula have used this ‘rest of the UK’ argument in support of an Irish language act.

Are they not aware of the situation in England?

The Alliance Party is entitled to argue for an Irish language act but then others are entitled to point out that this argument is fundamentally flawed and thoroughly disingenuous.

Nelson McCausland, Newtownabbey