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Ulster-Scots

Volume 699: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the status of the Ulster-Scots community in Northern Ireland is as an historic ethnic community; and whether the community has access to all human rights and equality conventions currently available to both indigenous and non-indigenous ethnic minority groups presently domiciled in the United Kingdom. [HL2013]

The term “historic ethnic minority” is not defined in statute in the UK; however the Government recognise the importance of Ulster-Scots culture in Northern Ireland, as reflected in commitments made in the 1998 Belfast agreement and the 2006 St Andrews agreement. Cultural matters are now the responsibility of the devolved administration.

The rights in the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated in domestic law in the Human Rights Act 1998, apply to everyone within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, irrespective of ethnic identity. Part II of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages applies to Ulster-Scots.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission views the Ulster-Scots community in Northern Ireland as having the same protection under human rights legislation as the Irish community in terms of funding, employment and language. [HL2061]

As the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission remains independent of government, the noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly on this matter.