08/12/2005

Linguistic diversity is important part of NI culture

Culture Minister David Hanson has highlighted the government's commitment to the promotion of regional and minority languages at a meeting of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts (COMEX).

Addressing COMEX candidates, Mr Hanson said the Government was committed to the principles of the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages "not just because the Charter is an international agreement, but because linguistic diversity is an important part of culture in Northern Ireland".

"Our language is valuable to us not just because it is a crucial part of identity but also because tolerance and respect for linguistic diversity here is an important sign of a reconciling society," Mr Hanson said.

"There has been significant progress in several areas. The award of broadcasting licenses to a number of radio stations broadcasting in Irish is a big step in enabling that community to develop. The Ulster-Scots Agency also plays a very successful role in promoting Ulster-Scots culture, of which language is a key part."

The Committee of Experts were in Northern Ireland to undertake interviews with Irish and Ulster-Scots language stakeholders.

Following similar meetings in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, a Council of Europe report on the United Kingdom's implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages will be published as part of a three-year cycle of reporting.

(MB/SP)

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