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BBC NI's Matt Cole:Ulster Scots supporters are excited about opportunities
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Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 09:15 GMT
Cash boost for Ulster Scots

Ulster Scots enthusiasts promote NI-Scottish llinks

Ulster Scots speakers have welcomed commitments by the UK and Irish governments to spend 350,000 reviving the language.

The Irish government has pledged 250,000 and the UK government 100,000 to help promote the language, mostly spoken in rural Protestant communities in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Scots Heritage Council spokesman Nelson McCausland, who is a unionist member of Belfast City Council, said the support they expect would be used to establish the language within the education system and to encourage new literature.

"We're very excited about the opportunities there are - and they are tremendous," he said.

Cross-border body

The funding pledges follow the establishment of a cross-border body under the Good Friday Agreement peace accord to promote the Irish and Ulster Scots languages.

Nelson McCausland: Excited by new opportunities
The body will work under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council, which was established by Irish Ministers and members of Northern Ireland's new power-sharing executive, in Armagh this week.

The language has only recently been recognised by the UK government, although speakers say it is spoken by approximately 100,000 people.

Academics are divided about the status of language which is based on English with influences from Irish, Scots Gaelic and Lowland Scots.

Recently road signs in the language erected in a mainly Protestant estate in Castlereagh near Belfast were torn down by loyalist vandals who believed they were in Irish.

Up to 2,500 pupils are currently enrolled in Irish language schools in Northern Ireland, although the language has received little state support until recently.

Ulster Scots enthusiasts are hoping support from the new language body will help them make similar progress in this sector.

More funding than Scots

Under the new arrangements, Ulster Scots will receive more funding in Ireland than its counterpart, Scots, receives on the other side of the North Channel in Scotland.

The Holyrood parliament allocates 100,000 per year to Scots language projects, 150,000 less than the Irish government will spend to promote Ulster Scots.

Scots language activist Scott McHardy said such support could endanger future work in Scotland.

"There's an awful great danger that expertise that has been built up in Scotland over the past ten years will be allowed out to Ireland," he said.

But Nelson McCausland said more, not less, money should be devoted to Scots language projects. "It shouldn't be going down to 100,000 but get several million pounds," he said.
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See also:
18 Oct 99 |  Northern Ireland
Vandals in language blunder
18 Sep 99 |  Northern Ireland
Assembly appoints Ulster Scots translator

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