From Jade Farringdon
"The embargo has been comprehensively broken so you may well have seen that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP, will tomorrow announce that the government will recognise the Cornish under the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities.
The government is due to make a submission to the Council of Europe later this year to update the convention (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framework_Convention_for_the_Protection_of_National_Minorities) which is designed to protect and promote cultural diversity. The government will consult on the content of its submission in advance so everyone will get a chance to have their say.
Being recognised as a minority may sound like a technicality but it’s a big deal. The Cornish will have the same protections as the Welsh, Scottish and the Irish, meaning government departments and public bodies will be required to take Cornish views into account when making decisions. This is extremely important given our status as the poorest place in the UK. Cornwall still receives Convergence funding from the EU because we are poorer than parts of Eastern Europe. Too often national policies have failed to take into account our unique economy and issues. It will no longer be legally possible to ignore Cornwall.
The main driver behind securing this recognition has been North Cornwall’s MP Dan Rogerson, backed by other MPs and a host of people concerned with preserving Cornwall’s unique culture. Over the past few months a group of councillors and others have been working on a paper setting out why the Cornish should be recognised as a national minority including Cllr Bert Biscoe, Cllr Julian German, Cllr Malcolm Brown, Cllr Dick Cole, Will Coleman, Maureen Fuller, Ed Rowe (better known as Kernow King), Ian Saltern and Cllr Doug Scrafton. This paper has yet to be submitted but will no doubt help the case.
Dan Rogerson has lobbied coalition ministers since 2010, having been turned down by the previous Labour government. Dan commissioned Ian Saltern to do reports which helped Don Foster MP and Steven Williams MP push for it and allowed Dan to negotiate it with the Conservatives at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Dan and Danny Alexander will meet with representatives of cultural organisations in Bodmin including the Cornish Gorsedh and Maga, the Cornish Language Partnership, to discuss the announcement and the importance of Cornwall's culture and identity to the local economy.
This is not about separatism or trying to break Cornwall away from Britain. It’s also not about bashing the English or any other group. It is about recognising and celebrating the different peoples which make up the United Kingdom, including the Celtic Cornish. It will no longer be possible to pretend the Cornish don’t exist.
Dan Rogerson has put out the following press release:
Lib Dems announce National Minority status for the Cornish
The Liberal Democrats have announced that National Minority Status has been given to the Cornish people, under the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander made the announcement today, 24th April. Mr Alexander is joining North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson in Bodmin to meet with representatives of cultural organisations in the Duchy including the Cornish Gorsedh and Maga, the Cornish Language Partnership, to discuss the announcement and the importance of Cornwall's culture and identity to the local economy.
The UK signed up to the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities 15 years ago, but the last Labour government said that the Cornish couldn't be recognised under the Convention.
Today's announcement follows years of campaigning by Cornish Liberal Democrat MPs to recognise Cornwall's unique culture, heritage and identity.
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities seeks to protect the rights of minorities in states across Europe.
Commenting on the announcement North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson said:
"Today's announcement means that the Cornish will finally be recognised as one of the constituent peoples of the UK alongside the Welsh, Scottish and Irish. It will also make sure that public institutions take account of Cornwall's unique identity.
"Despite the fact that the last Labour Government said that the Cornish couldn't be recognised in this way, Liberal Democrats in Coalition Government have made sure that the Cornish people, and our traditions, culture and heritage, now have the same status as everyone else.
"I'd like to thank Lib Dem Communities Minister Stephen Williams, his predecessor Don Foster, and the Chief Secretary Danny Alexander for listening to the case that we made. Thanks is also due to supporters for the cause from across the Duchy, and particularly to Ian Saltern who has edited the last 2 reports that we submitted to the government, which made the case for National Minority Status for the Cornish."
Danny Alexander said:
"Cornish people have a proud history and a distinct identity. I am delighted that we have been able to officially recognise this and afford the Cornish people the same status as other minorities in the UK."
Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams added:
"This is a great day for the people of Cornwall who have long campaigned for the distinctiveness and identity of the Cornish people to be recognised officially. The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing Saint Piran's Flag flying with extra Celtic pride on March 5 next year."
Last month Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced £120,000 of government funding for the Cornish language. In March Liberal Democrat members voted to make it their part policy to introduce a law-making Cornish Assembly.
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