The Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture strategy

The New Decade New Approach agreement, published jointly by the British and Irish governments on 9 January 2020, outlines how Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture shall be enhanced and developed in Northern Ireland.

New Decade New Approach agreement

The NDNA seeks to deliver on commitments made by the British and Irish governments to Ulster-Scots as per the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The Department for Communities is the lead department in the implementation of the Ulster-Scots Language, Heritage and Culture Strategy, as well as the Irish Language Strategy, and is committed to establishing and delivering outcomes that satisfy the requirements of the NDNA agreement.

The New Decade, New Approach document can be downloaded or obtained by contacting the Department.

Developing Ulster-Scots

In conjunction with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 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.  

Knowledge and Use of Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland

The 2019/20 Continuous Household Survey found that 15% of respondents across Northern Ireland understood Ulster-Scots, representing around 280,000 people province-wide. From the same survey, 5% (94,000 people) reported that they were capable of speaking some Ulster-Scots.

The survey also reported that those with some knowledge of Ulster-Scots were more likely to be male, over 55, from a Protestant background, living in least deprived areas, and living in rural areas.

In addition, the Ulster-Scots Agency has estimated that there are a further 10,000 Ulster-Scots speakers in the Laggan area of east Donegal, and up to two million Scots speakers in Scotland. 

Experience of Ulster-Scots Culture and Heritage in Northern Ireland

The 2018/19 Continuous Household Survey reported that 10% of respondents, representing around 187,000 people across Northern Ireland, had attended an Ulster-Scots cultural activity in the previous year. Additionally, 4 out 5 of respondents stated that they had ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ of respect for Ulster-Scots culture and traditions. [1]

For more statistical information about language use, visit the following page: Knowledge and use of Irish and Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland 2019/20


[1] Please note the difference in publication dates in the above questions. This is due to the Continuous Household Survey (CHS) alternating year-on-year between two question themes on the subjects of Irish and Ulster-Scots language: “Knowledge and Use” is investigated in even years, “Experience” in odd years.


The strategy

The strategy can be downloaded from the following page or obtained by contacting the Department.









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