European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages

Information on the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and how it promotes regional and minority languages.

European Charter

The European Charter is an international convention designed to protect and promote regional and minority languages. The Charter does not establish any individual or collective rights for the speakers of regional or minority languages. The Charter’s overriding purpose is cultural. It is designed to protect and promote regional or minority languages as a threatened aspect of Europe’s cultural heritage.

The UK Government signed the Charter on 2 March 2000 and it was ratified on 27 March 2001. The Charter came into force on 1 July 2001.

The Charter is binding upon each of the ratifying states. It therefore has implications for all Northern Ireland departments and associated bodies, Whitehall departments operating in Northern Ireland and for Local Government.

In Northern Ireland the Charter applies to Irish and Ulster-Scots but does not cover sign languages or the languages of minority ethnic communities.

The UK Government must provide periodic reports to the Council of Europe Committee of Experts (COMEX) who report on each state’s compliance with its Charter obligations.

Inter-departmental Charter Implementation Group

Since signing the Charter, an Inter-departmental Charter Implementation Group (ICIG), hosted by DCAL, has been working to help the public administration in Northern Ireland meet its Charter obligations. The ICIG has representatives from all Northern Ireland Departments, and also from all Whitehall departments that operate in Northern Ireland.

ICIG actions

The ICIG has taken the following action:

  1. In July 2001 published interim Guidance on meeting the UK Government's commitments to the Charter for public servants (dealing with Irish). Further Guidance (which also deals with Ulster-Scots) came into effect in August 2005. The Guidance is subject to periodical review.
  2. Hosted visits from the Council of Europe Committee of Experts (COMEX), and responded to the COMEX reports (published in early 2004 and September 2006). The reports have praised the willingness of the Northern Ireland administration to support Irish and Ulster-Scots and have made particular recommendations about the use of Ulster-Scots in the public realm, and the development of a comprehensive Irish Language Policy. A response to the 2006 report was made in December 2006 by Northern Ireland Departments and returned to the Council of Europe for consideration by its Committee of Ministers.
  3. Set up a subgroup (the ‘Article 9 subgroup’, run by the Court Service) to consider how Irish might be used in the legal system in Northern Ireland.
  4. Worked with DCAL to set up a quality controlled Irish language translation service. All Government translations are now sourced from this list.
  5. Set up an Irish and an Ulster-Scots voicemail service to allow users of these languages to contact the civil service in their language of choice.
  6. Set up a subgroup to plan how staff training requirements will be met, that the Charter may create.
  7. Acts as a forum to share experience, ideas and best practice about encouraging Irish and Ulster-Scots in the public realm in Northern Ireland.

An Chairt Eorpach

Is coinbhinsiún idirnáisiúnta í an Chairt Eorpach atá deartha chun Teangacha Réigiúnacha agus Mionlaigh a chosaint agus a chur chun cinn. Ní bhunaíonn an Chairt aon chearta aonair nó comhchoiteanna do chainteoirí na dteangacha réigiúnacha nó mionlaigh. Is cuspóir cultúrtha é cuspóir sáraitheach na Cairte. Tá sí deartha chun teangacha réigiúnacha agus mionlaigh a chosaint agus a chur chun cinn mar ghné d'oidhreacht chultúrtha na hEorpa atá faoi bhagairt.

Shínigh Rialtas an RA an Chairt ar 2 Márta 2000 agus rinneadh í a dhaingniú ar 27 Márta 2001. Tháinig an Chairt i bhfeidhm ar 1 Iúil 2001.

Tá an Chairt ceangailteach ar gach ceann de na stáit daingnithe. Dá bhrí sin tá impleachtaí aici do gach roinn rialtais agus comhlacht gaolmhar i dTuaisceart Éireann, do ranna Whitehall a oibríonn i dTuaisceart Éireann agus don Rialtas Áitiúil.

I dTuaisceart Éireann baineann an Chairt leis an nGaeilge agus le hAlbainis Uladh ach ní chlúdaíonn sí teangacha comharthaíochta ná teangacha pobal eitneach mionlaigh.

Ní mór do Rialtas an RA tuairiscí tréimhsiúla a chur ar fáil do Choiste Saineolaithe Chomhairle na hEorpa (COMEX) a thugann tuairisc ar ghéilliúlacht gach stáit le hoibleagáidí na Cairte.

Ó síníodh an Chairt, tá Grúpa Idir-Rannach um Fhorfheidhmiú na Cairte (ICIG), arna óstáil ag an RCEF, ag obair chun cabhrú leis an riarachán poiblí i dTuaisceart Éireann a chuid oibleagáidí faoin gCairt a chomhlíonadh. Tá ionadaithe ó gach Roinn i dTuaisceart Éireann ar an ICIG, chomh maith le hionadaithe ó na ranna Whitehall go léir a oibríonn i dTuaisceart Éireann.

Ghlac an ICIG na bearta seo a leanas:

  1. In Iúil 2001 d’fhoilsigh sé Treoir Eatramhach d’fhostaithe sa tseirbhís phoiblí  ar thiomantais Rialtas an RA don Chairt a chomhlíonadh (ag plé leis an nGaeilge). Tháinig tuilleadh Treorach (a phléann le hAlbainis Uladh freisin) i bhfeidhm i Lúnasa 2005. Tá an Treoir faoi réir athbhreithnithe tréimhsiúil.
  2. D’óstaigh sé cuairteanna ó Choiste Saineolaithe Chomhairle na hEorpa (COMEX), agus d’fhreagair sé tuairiscí COMEX (a foilsíodh go luath in 2004 agus i Meán Fómhair 2006). Mhol na tuairiscí riarachán Thuaisceart Éireann as a bheith sásta tacú leis an nGaeilge agus le hAlbainis Uladh agus rinneadh moltaí faoi leith iontu maidir le hAlbainis Uladh a úsáid sa réimse poiblí, agus Beartas cuimsitheach i leith na Gaeilge a fhorbairt. Thug Ranna Thuaisceart Éireann freagra ar thuairisc 2006 i Nollaig 2006 agus cuireadh ar ais chuig Comhairle na hEorpa le go bhféadfadh a Choiste Airí machnamh a dhéanamh air.
  3. Bhunaigh sé foghrúpa (‘foghrúpa Airteagal 9’ atá á reáchtáil ag an tSeirbhís Chúirteanna) chun na bealaí ina bhféadfaí an Ghaeilge a úsáid sa chóras dlí i dTuaisceart Éireann a mheas.
  4. D’oibrigh sé leis an RCEF chun seirbhís aistriúcháin Ghaeilge faoi rialú cáilíochta a bhunú. Faightear na haistriúcháin go léir de chuid an Rialtais ón liosta seo anois.
  5. Bhunaigh sé seirbhís ghlórphoist in Albainis Uladh agus i nGaeilge chun ligean do lucht labhartha na dteangacha sin teagmháil a dhéanamh leis an tseirbhís phoiblí sa teanga dá rogha féin.
  6. Bhunaigh sé foghrúpa chun pleanáil a dhéanamh ar conas a chomhlíonfar riachtanais um oiliúint foirne a chruthóidh an Chairt.
  7. Ghníomhaigh sé mar fhóram chun taithí, smaointe agus dea-chleachtas a roinnt maidir le Gaeilge agus Albainis Uladh a spreagadh sa réimse poiblí i dTuaisceart Éireann
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