Cornwall’s 15-year fight for minority group recognition is victorious
Cornish people are to be officially recognised as a national minority group for the first time.
The new status means they will be granted the same rights and protections as other Celtic groups in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and will be listed under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
“The Cornish people are now on an equal footing with other national minorities in the UK,” said Cornwall cabinet member Julian German. “This means we can play our role in a positive multicultural Britain, we are visible and can compete for resources.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander made the announcement on a visit to Bodmin. The news was met with jubilation from the people of Cornwall, who celebrated by dancing in the streets, reciting poetry in Cornish and drinking pints of Cornish ale.
Cornish people have been fighting for recognition for 15 years. The flag of Saint Piran, one of the patron saints of Cornwall, can be found on car stickers, buildings and Cornish company logos, while the Cornish language, which had been disappearing, is being taught in schools again and now appears on bilingual road signs.
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The news does not mean Cornwall is breaking away from Britain, but that the government and public bodies must take Cornwall’s views into account when making decisions, and must promote the preservation and development of Cornish people’s culture and identity.
Cornish language campaigner Matthew Clarke said: “[The announcement] was important because Cornish people have an ancient heritage stretching back to when the whole of Britain spoke a Brythonic language. It reaffirms the Cornish historical link with the Bretons and gives legal support to protection of this heritage.”
It is not yet clear what the new recognition means in practice, as national minority status does not initially attract extra funding or powers to the council or people of Cornwall. However, it is thought that it may help Cornish bodies apply for grants from UK organisations.