The Ullans Saga, Part 10

Say you were setting up an Academy which included study of the Irish Language and you appointed a Ministerial Advisory Group. Would you not include people who actually spoke that language every day. Culture Minister Nelson McCausland has announced the appointment of a Ministerial Advisory Group for the Ulster-Scots Academy. Yet he has excluded native speakers. Can you understand that?. I cannot, and I am a native speaker.

Following “open” competitions for the appointment of a Chairman and four new Members the following have been appointed with immediate effect for a period of up to four years. Yet another four members who “represent the Ulster-Scots Sector” have also been appointed. Liam Logan is a native speaker of impeccable credentials and he was not even short-listed. But then he is “political” and the Minister, who appointed the final four, is not.

The Chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Group is Dr Bill Smith, and the Members of the Ministerial Advisory Group are Dr Caroline Baraniuk, Dr John McCavitt, Dr David Hume MBE, Dr Ivan Herbison,Tom Scott OBE, Iain Carlisle, Alister McReynolds and John Erskine.

At the launch of the “Academy” the Minister thanked the Chairman and Members for agreeing to sit on the Ministerial Advisory Group, and added: “This group has been established to provide advice on the strategic development of the Ulster-Scots sector and to rapidly build confidence within the sector by progressing projects under the three streams of activity for the proposed Ulster-Scots Academy, i.e. Language and Literature; History, Heritage and Culture; and Education and Research.

“Each of the new appointees has skills and experience which will make a valuable contribution to the work of the Ministerial Advisory Group.” Appointees are to serve for a period of up to four years with immediate effect. Chair and members receive remuneration and expenses.

Bill Smith is an independent professional adviser on issues of public policy, strategic planning and governance. He has worked extensively with a range of organisations in the public and voluntary sectors. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast, and has recently completed a major research project for the US Institute of Peace. He is a member of the Parliamentary Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland; Board Chairman of Early Years, the organisation for young children; and a non-executive Director of Volunteer Now. No political activity was declared.

Dr Caroline Baraniuk has a doctorate in Ulster- Scots literature, from the University of Glasgow, which focused on the poetry of James Orr. She worked in the Ulster- Scots Curriculum Development Unit at Stranmillis University College for four years. The Unit produced school curriculum materials designed to teach Ulster- Scots language, history and culture. She has also published essays on Ulster-Scots literature in academic journals. Dr Baraniuk has taught extra mural courses on the history of the Ulster- Scots community, contributed to radio and television programmes and has presented papers on Ulster-Scots literature at academic conferences. No political activity was declared.

Dr John McCavitt is a teacher with almost twenty five years experience. He has engaged in research on early seventeenth century history, a formative period for the Ulster Scots. He was historical consultant to the Ulster Scots Agency for the Hamilton and Montgomery commemoration, 2006. Dr McCavitt's first book was a biography of Sir Arthur Chichester, often referred to as the 'Architect of the Ulster Plantation'. He has since authored books on The Flight of the Earls and was an historical consultant to BBC N.Ireland's three part television series on the subject.His current research focuses on General Ross, a famous Ulster Scot from Rostrevor, who fought with and against many of his fellow countrymen in the USA during the War of 1812. This conflict highlights the extraordinary contribution of the Ulster Scots during what has been termed as the 'Second War of Independence'. He has also worked with a number of councils on cultural heritage. No political activity was declared.

Dr David Hume has been involved in Ulster- Scots community activities for many years and was co-founder of the Broadisland Gathering Festival in Ballycarry, Co. Antrim, the longest established Ulster- Scots festival. He has published books and research papers on Ulster- Scots history, people and events as well as contributing to radio programmes and journal and delivering talks on Ulster- Scots language and heritage. These include the Plantation of Ulster and Ulster- Scots emigration to America among others. Dr Hume has devised and delivered courses on the Ulster- Scots history and related topics, including community development in Ulster- Scots communities. In 2007 Dr Hume was awarded an MBE for services to the community in Larne and Ballycarry, including Ulster Scots activities. No political activity was declared

Dr Ivan Herbison has nearly thirty years experience as a university lecturer. Dr Herbison has been engaged for many years in researching the poetic traditions of Ulster- Scots, with particular reference to the work of the weaver poets.He has a special interest in the revival of the Ulster- Scots literary tradition, including contemporary poetry. He has written extensively on Ulster- Scots poets and their expressions of cultural identity. Dr Herbison has worked collaboratively towards the establishment and refinement of an orthographic policy for Ulster- Scots and has contributed to an elaboration of the principles upon which it is founded. No political activity declared.

Tom Scott is the Chair of the Board of the Ulster-Scots Agency. He was until 2005 a Northern Ireland senior civil servant latterly with Department for Employment and Learning with responsibility for skills, management development and youth training policy. In November 2005 he became Chairman of the Greater Shankill Partnership Board in Belfast leading the partnership on neighbourhood regeneration strategy. Tom is a board member of Ormeau Enterprise Ltd, a local enterprise agency, a board member of Intertrade Ireland and is involved with several private and public sector bodies. He is also involved in youth issues through Scouting, Belfast Activity Centre and the Gerry Rogan Initiative Trust. Tom was awarded an OBE in the 2008 New Years Honours List for services to the community in Northern Ireland. No political activity was declared.

Mr Iain Carlisle is currently the Acting Director of the Ulster-Scots Community Network. He has acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the Ulster-Scots community through close involvement with a wide range of projects and events. No Political activity was declared.

Mr Alister McReynolds was Principal of Lisburn College of Further Education and lectures in Ulster-Scots Studies for both Northern Ireland Universities. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies and Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies in the University of Ulster. Mr McReynolds has published two books on the Ulster-Scots in America. He has a regular column in the Ulster-Scot newspaper and has been involved in radio presenting for Radio Ulster of ‘A Kist o’ Wurds and television productions ‘Irelands Eye’ and ‘Santer’ among others. No political activity was declared.

Mr John Erskine is currently the Acting Head of Library and Learning Resources in Stranmillis College. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. Mr Erskine research interests include aspects of Scottish cultural influence in the north of Ireland and the bibliography of Irish Presbyterianism and of Ulster-Scots language and literature. His external interests include membership of Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland and of the Ulster-Scots Language Society, although he is not a native speaker. He is a former member of the cross border language Body. No political activity was declared.

To be continued

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