• April 22, 2016

News from the Celtic League

The Westminster Government has written to Lys Kernow/Cornwall Council to say that funding for the Cornish language has been cut to zero with immediate effect.

In the letter from the Department of Communities and Local Government, Lys Kernow was told that the central government department would provide no further funding for the language. The decision comes as a shock to the Cornish language community, who were expecting an announcement this month that the funding would continue as it has since the language was officially recognised by the Westminster Government in 2002 and included under the terms of the European Charter for Regional and/or Minority Languages.

There were however recent concerns among some language activists that the Westminster Government would finally decide to withdraw funding for the language, as part of its general austerity cuts and especially after it looked likely to happen in 2015. Nevertheless the content of the letter was still disappointing to many. Rumours from Lys Kernow were that Councillors were quietly optimistic that funding would continue and Julian German, the council’s Cabinet member for economy and culture, criticised the decision saying:

”The Cornish language is a great source of pride for Cornwall and is part of what makes Cornwall and the Cornish unique.

“Over the last five years use of the language has increased and this is reflected in street names, signage and on mainstream and social media. Just as importantly, it supports our local and visitor economy as the increase in the use of the language in marketing and tourism has proved.

“The Government’s decision not to support Cornish with any funding whatsoever goes against the international agreements they have signed up to and that makes no sense at all. Cornwall has received funding from Government for a number of years and all we asked for was to continue at this level of funding.”

The £150 000 annual funding for the language is minuscule compared to the amount of public funding received by the other Celtic languages, even though the language is still in a very vulnerable position and is described as ‘critically endangered’ by the United Nations.

The General Secretary of the Celtic League, who works in his spare time towards the revival of the Cornish language among young children and families, and who has been a recipient of grants to support his work in the past, condemned the decision. Rhisiart Tal-e-bot said:

“The Government has intentionally targeted the Cornish language in order to deliberately weaken the position of the language. Individuals and groups, in Cornwall and beyond, should now work more closely together than ever to ensure that there is a sustainable future for the language, independent of the miserly financial handouts from central government.”

A petition, calling on parliament to reverse their decision, was launched yesterday afternoon (21st April) by Dr Jon Mills and already has well over 2,000 signatures.  It can be located at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/128474 and people resident in the UK are asked to sign it and to distribute it widely. In addition people can still make submissions to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s Countries of Culture inquiry on cultural resourcing, after the deadline was extended until Saturday, 30 April 2016.  Information may be sent to the Committee online here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/culture-media-and-sport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/countries-of-culture-15-16/

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot

Issued by: The Celtic News
The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues

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