Development of an Irish Language Strategy and an Ulster-Scots Language, Heritage and Culture Strategy

The Department is leading on the development of the Executive’s Ulster-Scots Language, Heritage and Culture Strategy and Irish Language Strategy. The Language Strategies Team within Culture Division is taking this work forward.

New Decade New Approach

There is a commitment under New Decade New Approach to adopt the key principals and practice of citizen and community engagement to co-design and co-production of the development and delivery of both strategies.

There is also a statutory commitment to developing the strategies under Section 28D of the NI Act 1998 as below:

  1. the Executive Committee to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish Language
  2. the Executive Committee to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture
  3. the Executive Committee (a) must keep under review each of the strategies and (b) may from time to time adopt a new strategy or revise a strategy.

Work to date on development of the strategies

A co-design approach has been applied to the development of the strategies with the establishment of Expert Advisory Panels, which brought together a wide range of academic and community experience; Co-Design Groups, made up of stakeholder groups from language, community and voluntary sectors; and a Cross-Departmental Working Group, made up of officials from across departments.

The Expert Advisory Panels each produced recommendation reports suggesting what each draft strategy should address. A ‘call for views’/consultation on both reports issued alongside the publication of both reports on 7 March.

Expert Advisory Panel members: Ulster-Scots

  • Mr Ian Crozier
  • Dr Frank Ferguson
  • Dr David Hume
  • Ms Helen Mark
  • Mr Lee Reynolds

Expert Advisory Panel members: Irish

  • Mr Julian de Spáinn
  • Mr Jake Mac Siacais
  • Dr Janet Muller
  • Dr Gabrielle Nig Uidhir
  • Prof Malachy Ó Néill

Co-Design Groups will consider the recommendations provided by the Expert Advisory Panels to contribute to the development of the draft strategies. Co-Design Groups will also facilitate focus groups to reach out to the organisations and people they represent to seek their views.

The Cross-Departmental Working Group will consider the recommendations for the purposes of developing action plans for each draft strategy.


Continuous Household Survey

Each year, NISRA perform the Continuous Household Survey (CHS) which asks attitude-based questions on a variety of topics, including Irish and Ulster-Scots.

Census and census-based research into knowledge of Irish/Ulster-Scots languages

Every ten years, the Census is conducted by NISRA and asks the public questions on a variety of topics, including Irish and Ulster-Scots. The results from the latest Census, performed 2021 are available.

In July 2022, NISRA published academic-led research into knowledge of the Irish and Ulster-Scots languages using previous census data.

In summary, the research includes:

  • analysis of the 2011 Census determining the socio-economic factors that correlate with “knowledge of the Irish and the Ulster-Scots languages”; and,
  • analysis of linked 2001 and 2011 Census records to determine which socio-economic factors influence a person’s likelihood to retain, gain or lose “knowledge of” the Irish language. This research will assist with the interpretation of the results from the 2021 Census on the Irish/Ulster-Scots languages.
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