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Ulster Scots are not second class citizens

20 August 2004


Democratic Unionist Party MEP Jim Allister has today claimed that systematic discrimination against Ulster Scots heritage, language and cultural activities runs contrary to the spirit of some key pieces of European legislation. Jim believes that this discrimination, which is manifested in the disparity of funding received by Ulster-Scots groups, when compared to funds allocated to Irish groups and promotional bodies, needs to end in order to ensure a level playing field.


Jim Allister said, ďUlster-Scots isnít the sub-culture that Irish nationalists would have us believe. It is in fact a living vibrant mass movement, which commands huge levels of popular support throughout this Province and beyond. Ulster-Scots is a recognised language under the terms of the Council of Europe Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.


This Charter was ratified by the UK government on 27th March 2001. As a language, Ulster-Scots has certain linguistic rights.  If it were treated simply as a dialect of the state language, which in our case would mean a dialect of English, these rights would not be guaranteed. 


The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities also affords certain rights to Ulster-Scots language and culture. Most interestingly, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child affords educational and cultural rights to children to be taught the culture and history of their parents.


Bearing this reality in mind, we are in an intolerable situation whereby the Irish language lobby, leaving aside the more general area of Irish culture, is funded to the tune of seven times more than both Ulster-Scots language and culture combined are. This is clearly wrong and runs contrary to notions of equality and parity of esteem. These European laws are designed to protect and enhance the rights of minority groups such as the Ulster-Scots community. Itís about time the government started acting on themĒ.


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