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Cultural markers drawn up to identify Ulster-Scots in NI

The Ulster-Scots Agency says the markers will look at everything from language, religion, music and dance, history and food traditions.

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The Ulster-Scots Agency has helped spread the language and culture

The Ulster-Scots Agency has helped spread the language and culture

The Ulster-Scots Agency has helped spread the language and culture

A number of identity and cultural markers are being drawn up by the Ulster-Scots Agency to help determine if someone is a member of the Ulster-Scots community.

The work by the agency is part of commitments made in the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement that restored power sharing to Stormont in January 2020.

The Ulster-Scots Agency said the markers will look at everything from language, religion, music and dance, history and food traditions.

Earlier this year, a new Translation Hub was launched aimed at allowing Stormont departments and other public bodies to accommodate the use of Irish and Ulster Scots.

The Scots language came to Ulster with the Scottish settlers of the Plantation in the early 17th century. Its presence was sustained and reinforced by later migrations and by the strong social and economic ties across the narrow North Channel.

According to the 2011 Census, as many as 140,000 people marked down some ability to speak Ulster-Scots.

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The Department for Communities found more than one in every 10 people in Northern Ireland can understand Ulster-Scots while 5% of adults speak it.

The work around the markers is still being finalised according to the Ulster-Scots Agency, with plans to consult widely ahead of any publication.

The markers will help as part of the commitment in the NDNA agreement to recognise Ulster-Scots under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

"This is a positive step forward because it will enhance the recognition of and protection for Ulster-Scots identity in a holistic way, recognising all aspects of Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture," the agency told the BBC.

"It complements the protection provided for the Ulster-Scots language in the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages but crucially the protection will now extend to all aspects of Ulster-Scots identity rather than language alone as at present.

"The cultural markers have not yet been agreed but are likely to cover things like Scottish origin, language/literature, religion, philosophy and political outlook, festivals, music, dance, sport and food.

"It is essential that the Ulster-Scots community has the opportunity to shape and inform our policy position so that they will be comfortable that the identity markers we articulate are an appropriate representation of their cultural identity.”


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