Development and use of Ulster-Scots

Information about what the Department is doing to help Ulster-Scots and who speaks Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland.

Developing Ulster-Scots

With the Ministerial Advisory Group, Ulster-Scots Academy, the Department is also developing plans for an Ulster-Scots academy, which we would hope to have up and running in the near future.

The Department plans to conduct separate but simultaneous public consultations on the proposals for an Ulster-Scots Academy prepared by the Ministerial Advisory Group, Ulster-Scots Academy, as well as proposals for an Irish language Academy, during this year.

In conjunction with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department funds the Ulster-Scots Agency (tha Boord o Ulstér-Scotch).  The Ulster-Scots agency (tha Boord o Ulstér-Scotch) is responsible for promotion of greater awareness and use of Ullans and Ulster-Scots cultural issues, both within Northern Ireland and throughout the island.  

The Department has also taken a lead role in producing guidance for public servants to help them meet their obligations under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in relation to the Ulster-Scots language.

Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (1999) found that 2% of the population spoke Ulster-Scots: this would be around 35,000 people.  The Ulster-Scots language society estimates that there are 100,000 speakers. In addition there are Ulster-Scots speakers in east Donegal.  Of course there are also up to two million Scots speakers in Scotland.  

The Northern Ireland Life and Times survey (based on a small number of Ulster-Scots speakers) found that speakers of Ulster-Scots are more likely to be older and slightly more likely to be Protestant or male.  It also found that slightly less than half of Ulster-Scots speakers considered themselves 'unionist', the remainder were fairly evenly split between 'nationalist' and 'neither'.  There are no significant differentials in relation to gender, marital status or dependents, and we have no data in relation to sexual orientation.

For more statistical information about language use, visit the following page:

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