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My thoughts on the recent National Minority Summit
Five years on from the recognition of the Cornish as a national minority, Cornwall Council held the first UK National Minority Summit at Falmouth University on Friday 5th July.
It was a privilege for me to be involved with the organisation of the event and it was great to hear from so many activists from across the Cornish movement. In addition, there were telling contributions from others from further afield such as Professor Tove Malloy (Director of the European Centre for Minority Issues), Cornishman Dr Davyth Hicks (Secretary General of the European Language Equality Network), Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones (University of Wales Trinity St David) and Iain Campbell (University of the Highlands and Islands), plus Montfort Tadier and Ben Spink from Jersey.

Also at the event was Lord Bourne (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) and he used the gathering to announce a one-off payment of £200,000 to support Cornish culture, with three-quarters of the money earmarked for the language.

He spoke about Cornwall’s rich history and distinctive identity, and how “we should support the Cornish language and help it flourish for generations to come.”

I had the opportunity to speak at the summit and, obviously, I welcomed the funding announcement. But I also told the Minister that the UK Government needed to do so much more to meet the wider obligations that it agreed under the Framework Convention. In particular, I reminded him that, in 2014, they had pledged the Cornish would receive a parity of treatment with the other national minorities (Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh) but that this had not transpired as yet.

Lord Bourne knew the challenge was coming as I had the good fortune to share a “working dinner” with him on the night before the summit, along with Cllr Bert Biscoe and Cllr Jesse Foot, Professor Tove Malloy and Dr Davyth Hicks, plus council officers and the Minister’s own staff.

It would be accurate to report that we pressed Lord Bourne on a wide range of issues which also included long-term funding for the Cornish language, greater control over Cornwall’s heritage, better public broadcasting in the Cornish national interest, and a Cornish tick-box on the 2021 census.

He knows that it is our intention to continue to lobby him and others in the UK Government on these and associated matters, and I hope that many people across Cornwall will join us in doing this.

I would like to finish by thanking the council officers who worked so hard to make the summit a success.
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By Dick Cole. Published on 25th July 2019.

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