Cornwall's National Minority Status marked 10 years on by Mebyon Kernow

The statement on parity for Cornish with the Scots, Welsh and Irish
The statement on parity for Cornish with the Scots, Welsh and Irish -Credit:Mebyon Kernow/ PR supplied

Members of Mebyon Kernow have gathered to mark Cornwall's National Minority Status 10 years on - and call for the government to keep their promises. Last month marks a decade since the UK Government's pledge that the Cornish would be recognised through the auspices of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

The official government press release stated “the decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish". However, at an event in Truro on April 20, members of Mebyon Kernow came together to express disappointment that Westminster has 'failed to meet their obligations' towards the Cornish.

Party members also issued a challenge to the central government to keep their promises from 10 years ago. Making the keynote address at the meeting was party leader Cllr Dick Cole, who described the 2014 recognition as a “landmark moment for our nation".

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He said: “I would like to pay tribute to the large number of people in Cornwall, who have worked hard to try to turn ‘recognition’ into tangible benefits for Cornwall and the Cornish; and those who have consistently made the case for Cornish identity, culture and language.

“But anticipated changes in public policy have not materialised over the last ten years, because the UK Government and numerous public bodies have failed to meet their responsibilities. In particular, a decade of inaction and obfuscation from the Westminster establishment represents a manifest failure to treat the Cornish in the same manner as the ‘Scots, the Welsh and the Irish'.

“But we must not let such inaction discourage us. We should be very proud of our collective efforts and we must never stop striving to achieve parity for Cornwall and the Cornish national minority.”

Mebyon Kernow used the meeting to issue a statement, which challenges central government, public bodies, MPs and would-be MPs, to commit to full compliance with the Framework Convention with regard to the Cornish national minority.

It says that national minority status for the Cornish must mean parity with “the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish", and that government obligations include support for language and culture, education and the media, the greater visibility of national minorities in public life, the protection of historic territories, more opportunities on the international stage, and so much more.

it contends that the Government's statement from 10 years ago has "proved to be illusory, and ten years on, we demand and insist that central government fully meets its obligations in the Framework Convention by treating Cornwall equally with the other national parts of the United Kingdom".

Mebyon Kernow went on to call for meaningful devolution through the creation of a legislative Cornish Parliament or a National Assembly of Cornwall and institutions for Cornwall, which match those of the other Celtic nations.

It wants an end to Cornwall being submerged into “south west region” entities and what it terms 'fair funding' for Cornwall and its public services. It also demanded long-term funding for Cornish language and culture, and a national curriculum for Cornwall.

The statement went on to ask for "greater institutional support for Cornish through a Language Act and part 3 of the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages" and "public service broadcasting provision for Cornwall, as exists in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales".

Inclusion of the Cornish language in the BBC Charter and inclusion of Cornish nationality on ethnic monitoring forms from governmental and public bodies are further topic for discussion, it added.

The statement ended: "It is shameful that national minority status for the Cornish has been largely ignored by the Westminster establishment for a decade. It must now be respected and the promised parity with 'the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish' must be delivered."