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The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has provided a Submission to COMEX on the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages on the Interim Report of the United Kingdom.

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Submission to the Committee of Experts on the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages on the Interim Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2021

​Read the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission submission to the Committee of Experts on the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages on the Interim Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Date produced February 2021.

Below is a summary of the recommendations.

You can also download the full document through the links provided.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) advises:

  • The Committee may wish to request to see any inputs by the NI Executive to the UK State report to ensure that the obligations of the UK government and the NI Executive are fulfilled in respect of the application of the Charter in Northern Ireland.
  • The NIHRC advises that the production of an Irish Language Strategy is a domestic legal requirement as well as a recommendation of the Committee. The Committee may wish to recommend that the NI Executive, through the Department for Communities, take steps to expedite the progression of an Irish Language Strategy.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the legislation clarify the position of the Irish language in relation to the English language to ensure legal certainty.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that consideration is given to making express provision for specific language rights within the Bill.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the primary role of the proposed Irish Language Commissioner is amended to include both a duty to ‘enhance and develop’ and to ‘promote and protect’.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the proposed Irish Language Commissioner is conferred a similar function as the Ulster Scots/Ulster British Commissioner and the Bill includes that the Irish Language Commissioner has an advisory role in respect of European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Framework Convention on National Minorities and the culture provisions in UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the UK government, the Northern Ireland Office and the NI Executive, specifically the Executive Office, take steps to progress the three draft Amendment Bills through the NI Assembly.
  • The Committee may wish to seek further information from the State Party on how they are progressing with this recommendation.
  • The NIHRC advises that the production of an Ulster Scots Strategy is a domestic legal requirement as well as a recommendation of the Committee. The Committee may wish to recommend that the UK government, through the Northern Ireland Office and the NI Executive, through the Executive Office, take steps to expedite the progression of an Ulster Scots Language Strategy.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the UK government formally recognise Ulster Scots as a national minority in advance or concurrently with the passage of the Bill. The Committee may also wish to recommend that the UK government produce guidance on what this recognition means in practice.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the primary role of the Commissioner is amended to include both a duty to ‘enhance and develop’ and to ‘promote and protect’.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that the Commissioner’s awareness-raising function should be enhanced to include promoting Ulster Scots within wider society.
  • The Committee may wish to request information from the UK government on whether there has been any progress on increasing the number of qualified teachers teaching Ulster Scots or the provision of language classes in further or adult training colleges.
  • The Committee may wish to recommend that an Ulster Scots strategy clarifies the scope of any duty placed on the Department of Education in relation to Ulster Scots and recommends that any duty is extended to the full mandate of the Commissioner, not only language.
NIHRC Comex submission PDF