Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON PROPOSALS FOR AN
Synopses & Statistical Analyses of Responses & EQIA
Mr Michael Cusack – private individual response
If the Ulster Scots Academy is to promote the Lawland Scottish Dialect it shall be a great waste of money. however it might succeed in being if allied to Scots Galig of the Hebrides which language has a more sure foundation in historical fact then what is seen to be a mere dialect of corrupted English.
COUNCIL FOR THE CURRICULUM EXAMINATIONS AND ASSESSMENT
th July 2007-09-17 18
Dr P Robinson
Ulster-Scots Academy Implementation Group
Implementation Group Secretariat
35 Regent Street
Dear Dr Robinson
Consultation Document and Equality Impact Assessment: Proposals for an Ulster Scots Academy
Thank you for your invitation to respond to a consultation document on the proposals for the governance, staffing and location of an Ulster-Scots Academy along with a three year outline business programme.
On this occasion we will not avail of the opportunity to respond to consultation as we believe there are issues of policy associated with the proposal. Policy is a matter for our sponsoring department, the Department of Education, and we believe, therefore, the Department is best placed to make that response.
We stand ready, however, to provide such support as deemed appropriate by the Department in the event that the proposals achieve acceptance and are realised.
Business Assurance Director
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
“Proposals for an Ulster Scots Academy” July 2007
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) is not aware of the earlier consultations alluded to in this consultation document prepared by the Ulster Scots Academy Implementation Group, though reference is made to an earlier ―extensive‖
consultation process. This oversight may have been due to the fact that those involved do not appear to have addressed the issue of Ulster Scots as a rights issue? Other language activists have taken human rights as a guiding principle in their work, and CAJ has been understandably interested in any efforts to protect and promote the linguistic rights of all. We note, however, with interest that in the background paper by John Edmund, reference to relevant UN, Council of Europe and other human rights standards are helpfully alluded to. To the extent that human rights considerations need to be borne in mind by government when it responds to eventual proposals from the U-SAIG, CAJ would make the following comments.
1. Partnership work
CAJ was left unclear as to the extent and nature of government involvement in the Academy. Government is not listed as a possible partner in the initiative; what role (if any) is envisaged for them in terms of the governance of the Academy, development of its programme, financing and oversight. A related but distinct point relates to the extent and nature of statutory involvement in the Academy. What role will the Ulster Scots Agency play? It is vital that there be clear lines of demarcation between government entities, those entities carrying out public functions on behalf of government, and those that are entirely independent. CAJ has raised this issue in correspondence some years ago with the Ulster Scots Agency, but the text appears ambiguous at points. And the role of the community, voluntary and non-governmental sector raises certain concerns.
CAJ believes it is extremely important to maintain a strong independent community voice able and willing to hold government to account. The more the voluntary sector is integrated into the governance arrangements of public entities, the less likely it is to maintain this necessary independent advocacy role that no-one other than them can play. The arrangements for clear lines of demarcation between government, those bodies carrying out public functions on behalf of government, and those that are entirely independent are not obvious. See, for example, para 8A.24, where it is proposed to have 7 nominees (50%) from two NGOs, and 7 appointees by way of publicly advertised posts. Why are not all the posts publicly advertised, even if the
criteria are skewed to those who have had a track-record of involvement in Ulster Scots language campaigning? This format may lead to a conflict of interest, especially if the nominees (or the organisations they represent) receive important levels of government funding (albeit indirectly).
2. Outreach beyond the Ulster Scots community
CAJ believes that it would be very important in the work of any eventual Academy to reach beyond its ―natural‖ hinterland of academia, language users and the Ulster Scots community. What about cultural associations, other language users, business? There would be a real value to the Ulster-Scots community to have some visible public involvement by those not already actively immersed in it, and this issue is addressed again in relation to the equality implications of these proposals.
3. Language rights
In para 4.29, the Academy is expected to play a major part in helping government secure designation under Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. We did not however see any subsequent reference to this work?
4. Equality Impact Assessment:
Is the Survey referred to a reliable source of information? In the absence of alternative databases, it may be necessary to use some of its findings, but the conclusion that the survey ―did not significantly indicate that unionists or nationalists were relatively any more/less likely to speak Ulster-Scots‖ seems counter-intuitive?
This conclusion presumably then led the Implementation Group to find that “there
are no adverse impacts‖, when it would be more appropriate in CAJ‘s view to
recognise that nationalists, Catholics and young people (the latter group is also disproportionately represented in the first two categories) will be adversely impacted. After all, at the very least, public monies will be being spent on issues that these groups are less likely to benefit from than their older Protestant unionist neighbours. The finding of adverse impact does not of course mean that the measures have to be set aside, but that they are reviewed and at the very least that mitigating and alternative measures are considered. An obvious mitigating factor would be to give much more consideration to outreach beyond the traditional Ulster Scots community, as noted above. However, at this stage, CAJ believes that it is incorrect to determine that there is no adverse impact, and that any such premise inhibits the
Implementation Group from proposing measures which would promote greater equality in access to the Academy‘s work.
CAJ believes that there is likely to be an adverse impact on certain section 75 categories, and urges the Implementation Group to consider this matter further before deciding whether and if so how to proceed.
While we cannot knowledgeably comment on other aspects of the consultation, or whether indeed an Academy is a valuable/necessary asset for Northern Ireland, we would like to commend the tone of this document. The tone is prefaced on the belief that Ulster-Scots, and the creation of an Academy, could be ―a resource for the
whole community” and that the Academy - if properly established - “would provide
for reaching an audience beyond that of Ulster Scots speakers and this wider availability has the potential to improve good relations”. In a different, but related,
arena CAJ had unfortunately to be critical of the altogether more negative tone used in the last Irish language consultation material. Apart from including a Financial Impact Assessment statement (the first one we had ever been made aware of, and which is not included in this consultation?), that consultation document seemed replete with concerns about the possible divisiveness of language.
Typed Version of Hard Copy Letter
th August 2007 6
Submission on Ulster Scots Academy Consultation Document
Our response represents the unanimous view of the Ullans Academy, its Board and Membership. The Academy is committed to support the Ulster Scots Culture in all its diverse aspects including Literature, Music, History, Dance and Language.
We are concerned also to encourage the promotion of Ulster Gaelic Culture and Language and to that end we would support an inclusive community based approach that avoids the development of exclusive attitudes in cultural matters.
We are also concerned that attempts to generate a revival of interest in our cultural heritage could be jeopardised by a failure to develop the correct approach to the challenges ahead and as a consequence bring all aspects of Ulster Scots Culture and Language into disrepute.
In that respect we are alarmed that the Ullans Academy and other groups which were in the vanguard of attempts to bring understanding and knowledge of our culture to a wider audience have been relegated to the margins in this document. The Ullans Academy is entitled to have a much greater say in determining the best way forward precisely because of its experience and the validity of the philosophical basis of its approach to these matters.
It is apparent that the community based model of development which we would support is rejected in place of a top down, job creation model of development which will be entirely ineffective in winning public support within the Unionist community. It is inconceivable in our local economic circumstances to ask for enormous sums of public money to be spent promoting a language that is spoken by so few people. In our view the approach outlined in this document smacks of ‗jobs for the boys‘ culture and it appears to us that a caucus of self interested people is quite ruthlessly promoting a selfish and exclusive agenda.
We support an approach that is based on using available funding to create and support community interest in Ulster Scots Culture and developing all aspects of that culture especially Music, Literature, History, Dancing and Sport. We believe of course in developing activities that encourage respect for and use of Ulster Scots Language. We are anxious also to learn from experience in other cultures including
Friesland and Scotland. We believe in building gradually and effectively, dedicating resources to support a corps of volunteers and already existing Ulster Scots organisations, building confidence and capability in the Ulster Scots community.
We are anxious too that we do not take steps that will lead to the creation of damaging attitudes to the indigenous Ulster Scots tongue as it is spoken in Ulster, as has been the experience of those who speak Ulster Gaelic. The promotion in the Republic and here in Northern Ireland of a modern Language –Irish- which has been
artificially constructed has been responsible for the decline and virtual disappearance of authentic Gaelic speaking throughout Ireland. This view is endorsed by current research conducted by the Government of the Irish Republic. The last thing we need in Northern Ireland is a replication of a ‗De Valera‘ approach to Language development.
We do not want the way forward for the Ulster Scots Culture and its Language to be on any other basis than its intrinsic appeal to the people of Northern Ireland and their desire to see it grow and flourish. All future funding must be used wisely and cautiously to create a decisive impact in encouraging the widest possible support for activities that will engage the interest of all and promote all that is best in our culture.
We would unreservedly reject the approach outlined in the consultation document and suggest that a more effective way forward be developed with the emphasis on devising action plans that will have widespread support within the Ulster Scots community. The approach described in this report will in our view have extremely damaging consequences for Ulster Scots in all of its manifestations.
The Chairman and Board of the Ullans Academy would be happy to meet with the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure representatives to enlarge on the views expressed in this response.
On behalf of the Ullans Academy
Des Meredith Committee Secretary
University of Ulster – Prof. R Barnett
13 August 2007
Dear Dr Robinson
Re: Ulster Scots Document
Thank you for sending me a copy of the document ‗Proposals for an Ulster Scots Academy‘. The proposals for an Ulster Scots Language based Academy linking community and academia have been clearly presented in some detail, and it will be interesting to see how the Academy continues to progress and develop.
As you note in several places within the document, one of the aims of the Academy will be to formally affiliate with a University or Universities. At this stage, however, as you say in 7.14 of the document, the Group believe ‗… it would be premature, at this stage, to begin formal discussions with Universities‘. At the University of Ulster we have extensive experience of many types of affiliation and when the time proves appropriate I‘m sure we will be able to have a productive conversation on links between the University and the Academy, should the Group decide to move in this direction.
I note also that you use the less formal term ‗partnership‘ with Universities, and I am aware of your communication channels with the Institute of Ulster Scots at our Magee campus. I am also aware that one positive partnership outcome of this connection has been the half time secondment of Dr Frank Ferguson to assist the Group with a number of its literature projects. As your plans progress I‘m sure that such informal links will continue to prove useful.
Thank you once again for providing me with the opportunity to review your proposals, and I wish you every success with this in the future.
IMPLEMENTATION GROUP PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON PROPOSALS FOR
AN ULSTER SCOTS ACADEMY
Monica Wilson, Chief Executive
Portside Business Park
189 Airport Road West
Tel: 028 90 297880 Fax: 028 90 297881
Textphone: 028 90 297882
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