In Northern Ireland we have two indigenous or autocthonous minority languages, Irish and Ulster-Scots. They are part of our linguistic heritage and both of them have contributed to our placenames and to the Ulster dialect that most of us use every day. An awareness of the influence of both languages in Ulster can contribute to better understanding, good relations and a shared future.
However in the section of the Ulster Museum entitled 'Plantation to Power Sharing' there is a marked difference in the treatment of the two languages. At one point the relationship between the Gaelic language of Scotland and the Gaelic language of Ireland is highlighted and there is an opportunity to hear Gaelic being spoken. Unfortunately there is no corresponding acknowledgement of the influence of the Scots language in Ulster and no opportunity to hear Ulster-Scots being spoken.
The Ulster-Scots language has been excluded and I really do not understand why it was decided to accommodate one minority language in this way and yet exclude the other. What possible reason or explanation could there be?
The United Kingdom government, including the Northern Ireland Executive, is committed to implement the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In Northern Ireland the two recongised minority languages are Irish and Ulster-Scots and under Part 2 of the charter there is a requirement to 'take resolute action to promote' the languages. Indeed my department chairs the Interdepartmental Charter Implementation Group on the implementation of the charter.
Surely the exclusion of the Ulster-Scots language from this exhibition is a breach of the obligation to 'take resolute action'?