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MK hit out at government inaction on Framework Convention
Five years on from the recognition of the Cornish as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Mebyon Kernow has criticised the UK Government for failing to meet its obligations towards the Cornish.

The leader of MK, Cllr Dick Cole, has accused the UK Government of a “manifest failure” to deliver on the commitments it agreed to on 24th April 2014.

Cllr Cole said: “The recognition of the Cornish in 2014 was a landmark ruling and the UK Government made it clear that the Cornish would be afforded ‘the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.’

“A significant document, the Framework Convention sets out numerous obligations for the Westminster Parliament. These include support for Cornish language and culture with associated improvements in education and the media, the greater visibility of the Cornish in public life and the media, the protection of the integrity of Cornwall and its historic borders, more opportunities for Cornwall and the Cornish on the international stage, and so much more.

“It is therefore desperately disappointing that the anticipated changes in public policy have simply not materialised, because the UK Government, and other bodies such as the BBC and the Office of National Statistics (ONS), have failed to meet their stated responsibilities.

“Five years of inaction from the Westminster establishment represents a manifest failure to treat the Cornish in the same manner as the ‘Scots, the Welsh and the Irish,’ while many of their actions have been prejudicial to the intent of the Framework Convention.

“Five years on from 24th April 2014, the UK Government need to apologise for their failure to deliver on the articles of the Framework Convention, and it needs to immediately put in place measures to properly reflect the status of the Cornish throughout all aspects of cultural, economic and political life in Cornwall and across the UK as a whole.”

Examples of the UK Government’s failure to deliver on articles in the Framework Convention

  • In 2016, less than two years after ministers set out their positive support for Cornish culture, the UK Government ended all central government funding for the Cornish language.

  • Also in 2016, the BBC launched its new Charter which included support for the “regional and minority languages of the United Kingdom” but Cornish was explicitly excluded.

  • The present proposal for the 2021 census shows that there will be tick-boxes for all the UK national minorities – with the exception of the Cornish who will have to “write-in” their nationality.

  • The ongoing review of the boundaries of seats in the Westminster Parliament respects the historic territories of the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh, but this is not the case with Cornwall, which faces the imposition of a “Devonwall” cross-Tamar parliamentary seat.

  • The UK Government continues to treat Cornwall as no more than a local government area, whereas the other Celtic parts of the UK have devolved settlements, which reflect their national status and can exhibit real power on behalf of their residents.
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By Dick Cole. Published on 24th April 2019.

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