Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Including the Cornish - The Second Cornish National Minority Report

The Second Cornish National Minority Report entitled: “Including the Cornish – a unique case for recognition” has been officially launched. Written by Ian Saltern with the assistance of a broad-based steering group, it builds on the first report produced in 1999.

I was a member of the steering group and pleased to have been able to assist with the initiative, which came about thanks to the efforts of Bert Biscoe.

The report seeks to extend the case for the Cornish to be recognised as a cultural minority, through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

It has the backing of the political group leaders at Cornwall Council, myself include, who co-signed the foreword to the report, proclaiming in unison that the status would “enable the Cornish to play a full and active part in British society, contributing to the diversity of the United Kingdom.”

The conclusions of the document are clear.

Within the spirit of the Framework Convention, implicit through its Articles, the Cornish constitute a national minority.

The Cornish, like the Scottish and the Welsh, possess an historic national identity and national origins.

There are barriers to the Cornish being able to maintain and celebrate their distinct identity.

In attempting to overcome these barriers the Cornish have encountered a legal conundrum whereby they can only bring a case under the Equalities Act if they are a recognised “racial group,” but case law will only identify Cornish people as a “racial group” once the Cornish successfully prosecute a case of racial discrimination.

The UK Government has relied on the “racial group” criterion to define national minorities. The “racial group” criterion is viewed by various organisations as too narrow and unreflective of the purposes of the Framework Convention.

National minority status will legitimise the Cornish in the eyes of statutory bodies and decision-makers. It will ensure that the Cornish are not impeded from maintaining and celebrating their distinct identity.

National minority status will confer upon the Cornish the dignity of visibility. It will deliver tangible social, cultural and economic benefits for the Cornish and the United Kingdom.

National minority status will enable the Cornish to play a full and active part in British society, contributing to the diversity of the United Kingdom.

National minority status for the Cornish will bring coherence to UK Government policy. It will address the current anomaly whereby Cornish national and ethnic identity is officially recognised for the purposes of the Census, but the Cornish people have yet to be recognised as a national minority.

The findings of the report have already been presented to central government. Copies of the report will soon be available from Bert Biscoe at 3 Lower Rosewin Row, Truro TR1 1EN. Please include a cheque for £1.20 to cover postage and packing.

No comments: