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WATCH: Fresh calls for Cornish 'tick-box' on census

WATCH: Fresh calls for Cornish 'tick-box' on census

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:05am 20th March 2017. (Updated at 4:35pm 20th March 2017)

There are calls for a Cornish tick box on the census and a u-turn on funding cuts for the language.

A report is urging the government to stop "oppressing" national minorities like the Duchy.

The Council of Europe also flags up concerns about Devonwall and the so-called "disneyfication" of sites like Tintagel.

The 50 page report says: "Recognition of the Cornish minority in 2014 is an important step in acknowledging the unique identity, culture, language and traditions of the Cornish people, which should now be nurtured by the adequate policy and financial steps necessary to ensure that persons belonging to the Cornish minority have access to the rights protected by the Framework Convention.

"Recognition of the Cornish people in 2014 has resulted in delegating some tasks to the Cornish Council in the context of decentralisation in England. The national referendum in June 2016 on membership of the EU has caused some uncertainties within the Executives and Assemblies and in the Cornish Council".

St Pirans

It goes on: "Representatives of the Cornish minority believed that the steps taken so far at the level of central government and local authorities have not been sufficiently meaningful to substantiate recognition of the Cornish as a national minority.

"In particular, they expressed concern that local authorities would not show ownership of the recognition process but rather act in compliance with it, while the UK Government would not provide the means required to implement recognition.

"Local authorities emphasised the limited decisionmaking power due to the constitutional set-up10 and the current territorial arrangement, whereby Cornwall is grouped together with Devon and other counties in the Southwest region, as elements preventing further progress.

"The Advisory Committee also understands that, in 2011, data on Cornish identity were gathered for the first time, thanks to the write-in facility. In England and Wales, 83 000 people (0.1% of the population) identified as Cornish, on its own or combined with other identities, but in Cornwall 13.8% of the population declared themselves to be Cornish.

"Representatives of the Cornish minority believed that the introduction of a dedicated 'tick-box' represented a more appropriate way to record persons belonging to a national minority.

"The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take the necessary measures to include the possibility to self-identify as Cornish, through a 'tick-box' in the next census, and to facilitate the expression of self-identification of any other group because data collection is relevant to the application of minority rights".

levant mine - miles wolstenholme

Here are its main finding about all things Cornish:

"The Advisory Committee appreciates the efforts made so far by the central government, Cornwall Council and the Cornish people to ensure revival of Cornish language, culture and heritage. The status of the Cornish language and culture as officially recognised by the UK Government since 2014 is a step forward in UK obligations under the Framework Convention. The Advisory Committee considers it important that the government now
implements relevant policies to improve access to these rights for persons belonging to the minority. The Cornish language is generally seen as central to the sense of Cornish identity as expressed by the newly conferred status.

"The Advisory Committee notes that, so far, funding for the Cornish language has come from a combination of the UK Government (£150'000) and Cornwall Council (£30'000). One of the main problems facing those tasked with revitalisation of the language has been the annual basis of funding from the UK Government. Cornish representatives were vocal in stressing how this arrangement made it difficult to plan for the long-term recovery and wider use of the Cornish language and how a regular stream of funding was necessary to ensure the viability of language activities. It also expressed the opinion that the central and local funding level for the promotion of Cornish was insufficient to ensure a realistic programme of revitalisation for the language.

"The Advisory Committee was disconcerted to learn that the UK Government decided in April 2016 to cut all funding for the Cornish language with immediate effect. The Committee strongly regrets a decision which is considered to have a major impact on the continued revitalisation of the language and the educational activities carried out so farwith public funding. The Advisory Committee recalls that, as a signatory of the Framework Convention, the United Kingdom has undertaken to promote under Article 5 the conditions necessary for persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities to, inter alia, preserve the essential elements of their identity, including language. When access to other public financial resources is limited due to the constitutional set-up, public support remains necessary".

"Cultural events and festivals, such as St Piran's Day on 5th March, are developing an increasingly high profile and give prominence to the Cornish language and culture throughout the year. However, subsidies for cultural projects are considered not to be enough and have recently been reduced in the Cornwall Council budget by 50%. The Advisory Committee also understands from its interlocutors that the way Cornish culture is currently approached by the English Heritage Trust fails to appreciate its distinctiveness and shifts between “culture in Cornwall” and 'Cornish culture'. Several small museums deal with Cornish history and culture, but they are scattered and there is no overall agreement yet with the English Heritage Trust on how to portray Cornish culture and heritage, though consultations are ongoing. Similarly, it is felt that Cornish history is distorted, and worries are high that the UNESCO Cornish Mining World Heritage Site could lose its status owing to new building at the site".

Tintagel

Recommendations:

  • The authorities should reconsider their decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure can have on the delicate process of revitalisation of a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.
  • The Advisory Committee also calls on the authorities to engage in a dialogue with representatives of the Cornish minority to ensure that cultural policy is developed in a way respectful of the traditions and identity of the minority.

Read the full report or watch the 'Free Cornwall' video - telling people "Cornwall is not England"...

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