So there you are.. Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Nelson McCausland yesterday unveiled his plans for the way forward of the Ulster-Scots Academy, and not a word of Ullans spoken all day.
Speaking in English at North Down Museum in Bangor – home of the Raven Maps, a key artefact from the 1600s – the Minister emphasised how important Ulster-Scots is as one of Northern Ireland’s main cultural traditions.
“Last year, a major independent survey showed that Ulster-Scots continues to be widely recognised, across both sections of our community, as an integral part of the cultural fabric of Northern Ireland,” the Minister said.
“As such, and as part of a shared future, it is only right and proper that we continue to support and promote this important aspect of our culture.”
He outlined “a number of measures to ensure the evolution and enhancement of Ulster-Scots, as well as ways of recognising and maintaining its history and heritage.”
“Among a range of plans are the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group to develop an Academy strategy and priorities for the CSR period.” And not a native speaker among them. And not a member of the original Ulster-Scots Language Society or Ulster-Scots (Ullans) Academy I set up in 1992. And not a member of the Ullans Speakers Association.
“Alongside this there are various Ulster-Scots projects which reflect the diversity of the sector.” Really? Will we have something on Dalriada and the Cruthin? Or the Lords of the Isles and my own kin from Islay? Or the Gallowglasses such as the Gallagher and English families? Or the Sloans like my two grannies family, who came to Ulster before the Hamilton and Montgomery Settlement? No, I think not.
“My aim has always been to build confidence, capacity and credibility within the Ulster-Scots community and the way it is perceived in the wider society. I believe these plans are the way to secure mutual respect and growth at the wider community level.” And what does Nelson mean by the Ulster-Scots Community..his own perhaps?
“The initiative has three strands: Language and Literature; History, Heritage and Culture; and Education and Research.” Yes, that was what we asked for way back, when Dr Paisley and I met Michael Ancram with the original Ulster-Scots Language Society.
Nelson added: “I believe great damage has been done to the development of the sector by opponents who have sought to characterise this as being all about the status of the Ulster-Scots language. Clearly, it is about much more than that – this is a rich and vibrant culture which has shaped many aspects of life in Northern Ireland.” And who are these opponents.. surely not the Ulster-Scots Language Society?.
Sorry, Nelson, it won’t work…but let’s give it a go. And we’ll do it our way…
To be continued