Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Mebyon Kernow Demands Cornish Language Act [November 2022]

The press release issued by Mebyon Kernow on 5 November 2022.

Saturday 5th November marks twenty years since the Cornish language was recognised by the UK Government through Part II of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

Speaking to a meeting of MK’s National Executive at the time of the anniversary, language spokesperson Cllr Loveday Jenkin hit out at the UK Government for not doing enough to support Cornish.

Cllr Jenkin said: “It is right that we celebrate the fantastic work done by so many people to promote the language. But over the last two decades, Cornish has not achieved language parity with the other Celtic languages of the UK and as we mark the 20th anniversary of recognition, we must challenge the UK Government to properly meet its obligations to the language.”

Specific issues raised by Cllr Jenkin included the following:

Cornish was only recognised under Part II of the Charter, while Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh are recognised under Part III, which has a more comprehensive and far-reaching set of obligations.

The BBC Charter defines “regional and minority languages” as “Welsh, Scottish-Gaelic, Irish and Ulster Scots,” actively excluding Cornish from broadcasting support.

Cornish will soon be the only Celtic language in the United Kingdom without any safeguards embedded in domestic law. The first Welsh Language Act was passed in 1967 and a second one in 1993, while further legislation has been passed by the Welsh Parliament. The Scottish Gaelic Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2005. The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill meanwhile recently passed its final hurdles in the House of Commons.

The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill comes with the investment of £4 million in an Irish Language Investment Fund, while the UK Government ending formal funding of the Cornish language in 2016.

Cllr Jenkin said: “We need greater recognition for Cornish through Part III of the European Charter and a Cornish Language Act, along with greater respect from public bodies such as the BBC and the reintroduction of funding from Westminster.”

She concluded by saying: “I would welcome responsibility for the Cornish language being devolved to Cornwall, but for that we need a legislative Cornish Parliament with full legislative and fiscal powers.”