Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Major talks on minority languages

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson
Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson are attending the Jersey summit

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are in Jersey for the 13th British-Irish Council summit.

The theme of the summit is indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages.

First ministers, chief ministers and ministers from eight jurisdictions will hear more about the importance of Jersey's traditional language Jèrriais.

Set up under the Good Friday Agreement, the council aims to improve relations between the countries and islands.

It incorporates the Scottish government, the Welsh Assembly, the Irish government, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Northern Ireland Executive and the British government.


In September the BBC revealed that the Northern Ireland Executive was warned by the Foreign Office that its failure to agree on minority languages was creating international difficulties for the UK.

The Executive failed to submit details of how it is fulfilling a commitment to promote Irish and Ulster Scots under the terms of a European charter.

As a result the UK had to submit a late and incomplete report to the Council of Europe, the only country to do so.

This caused annoyance at the Foreign Office and other devolved governments.

The Executive has still not agreed on its submission.

'Cultural identity'

Deputy James Reed, Jersey's minister for education, sport and culture, will be addressing the summit on the place of Jèrriais in the island's identity.

"Teaching Jèrriais to both children and adults is key to maintaining and the development of our unique cultural identity," he said.

The BIC's minority languages group will meet again in Dublin in December and is due to examine the European charter for regional and minority languages.

Senator Terry Le Sueur, Jersey's chief minister, said: "I am delighted to be welcoming our BIC partners to Jersey, and I hope the discussions will be as useful and rewarding as they have been in previous years.

"These meetings provide an excellent opportunity for smaller jurisdictions like Jersey and Guernsey to play their part on an equal basis alongside larger countries like England and Scotland."

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