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News Archive > General > Party leader in Cornish ´tick-box´ demand

Party leader in Cornish ´tick-box´ demand

By 11th March 2020

Party leader in Cornish ´tick-box´ demand
MP Steve Double backs the ´tick-box´ campaign at the Royal Cornwall Show in 2018

THE Government has been accused of having a “significant blindspot” when it comes to Cornwall as it is challenged to do more to support the county’s distinct ‘national’ identity.

The leaders of Mebyon Kernow and Cornwall Council marked St Piran’s Day by calling on the government to give the Cornish people what other UK national minorities have been afforded – a tick-box in the 2021 census.

Cornwall councillor Dick Cole has written to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Office and Home Office, demanding a Cornish tick-box on the 2021 census, which he says would be a “strong and symbolic act” to show that the “UK Government is (i) taking the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities seriously, and had (ii) started to treat the Cornish in the same manner as the UK’s other national minorities (the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish).”

In a statement issued on St Piran’s Day, councillor Cole said: “It is 18 years since the Cornish language secured protection through the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

“And it is nearly six years since the Cornish were recognised as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, when the UK Government pledged that we would be afforded ‘the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.’

“But I have to say that it is very disappointing that the UK Government continues to have a significant blindspot when it comes to Cornwall, its language and national identity; and it is clearly failing to treat the Cornish in the same manner as ‘the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.’

“On March 4, 2020, in a response to a question from Steve Double MP, the Prime Minister spoke some Cornish in the House of Commons.

“He said ‘Kernow bys vykken’ – Cornwall forever – and yet we have just found out that the Cornish language has been specifically excluded from the new British passport. It symbolically includes text from three of the UK’s four Celtic languages: Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish – but there is no Cornish.

"The UK Government is also finalising the content of the 2021 census at the moment and the present draft of the survey includes national identity tick-boxes for English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh. But officials seem to consider it acceptable that the Cornish will be the only UK national minority to be denied a tick-box.

"This is both illogical, prejudicial and plain wrong. I have challenged the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Office and Home Office, to intervene to ensure that the census paperwork is modified to include a Cornish tick-box.

“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is calling upon people to also write to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Office and Home Office to demand that the UK Government meets its obligations to the Cornish as a national minority.”

Cornwall Council leader, Julian German, also issued a similar message on St Piran’s Day.  

He said: “It took years of campaigning before the UK Government officially recognised the Cornish language and Cornish people. Indeed, it wasn’t until the Cornish were protected through the Council of Europe that we saw a Cornish flag flying over 10 Downing Street on St Piran’s Day. 

"We have a rich history and vibrant culture, but there is one thing Cornish people are missing out on that the other UK national minorities have been afforded – a tick-box in the 2021 census to express their identity as Cornish.  

“This week it was announced that the terms ‘Asian Welsh’ and ‘Black Welsh’ will be included in the census questionnaire sent to households in Wales following talks between the Welsh government and the Office for National Statistics. 

“It is time that the government extended the same respect to Cornwall with the inclusion of a specific Cornish tick-box. We have made, and continue to make, great progress in recognising, protecting, promoting and celebrating our Cornish identity and language.  

“That progress has come in no small part as a result of the UK’s membership of the Council of Europe. To risk leaving that body threatens to undo those years of progress and return us to a time when barely anyone celebrated St Piran’s Day. 

 “I for one will not stand by and let that happen.”

By 11th March 2020

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