The St Andrews Agreement (2006) states ‘The Government firmly believes in the need to enhance and develop the Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture and will support the incoming executive in taking this forward’
This commitment was consequently included in amendments to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, placing duties on the Executive to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language and Ulster-Scots culture, heritage and language.
This Strategy for Indigenous or Regional Minority Languages will be presented to the Executive in due course.
ULSTER SCOTS ACADEMY
In 1998, the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement acknowledged the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, and made specific reference to Ulster-Scots.
The Ministerial Advisory Group on the Ulster Scots Academy (MAGUS) was established in March 2011 and first met on 12 May 2011.
Our mission is to promote research, knowledge and understanding of Ulster-Scots language, history and cultural traditions.
Our role is:
Our agreed strategic objectives are to:
To deliver our specific priorities we have decided to:
We are working together with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), the Ulster-Scots Agency, the Ulster-Scots Community Network, the Ulster-Scots Language Society, the Ullans Speakers’ Association, academic institutions, statutory and voluntary bodies and community networks. Our work complements that of the Ulster-Scots Agency and other organisations in the sector.
The MAGUS comprises delegates from four existing Ulster-Scots organisations, together with four members appointed through open public competition and an independent chair. We were all appointed for up to four years.
The Chair, Dr Bill Smith, is an independent public policy analyst and writer with extensive experience of government and administration in Northern Ireland. He has been chairing strategic management groups in the voluntary and public sectors since 1994. He earned his doctorate from Stanford and is now a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Politics International Relations and Philosophy at Queens University Belfast.
Dr Carol Baraniuk is a teacher who has a doctorate in Ulster-Scots literature and has vast experience with both academic research and fieldwork in the community, in addition to educational expertise.
Dr John McCavitt is a teacher with almost twenty five years experience. He has engaged in research on early seventeenth centuryhistory. He was historical consultant to the Ulster Scots Agency for the Hamilton and Montgomery commemoration, 2006.
Dr David Hume MBE has been involved in Ulster-Scots community activities for many years. He has published books and research papers on Ulster-Scots history, people and events as well as contributing to radio programmes and journals and delivering talks on Ulster-Scots language and heritage.
Dr Ivan Herbison is a university lecturer with nearly thirty years experience. Dr Herbison has been engaged for many years in researching the poetic traditions of Ulster-Scots.
Tom Scott OBE is Chair of the Board of the Ulster-Scots Agency. He was until 2005 a Northern Ireland senior civil servant latterly with the Department for Employment and Learning.
Iain Carlisle is the Acting Director of the Ulster-Scots Community Network. He has acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the Ulster-Scots community through close involvement with a wide range of projects and events.
Alister McReynolds was Principal of Lisburn College of Further Education. He lectures in Ulster-Scots Studies for both Northern Ireland universities. He has a regular column in the Ulster-Scot newspaper and has been involved in radio and TV presentations for the BBC.
John Erskine is the Acting Head of Library and Learning Resources in Stranmillis College. He has completed extensive research into the Ulster-Scots language and literature and is a member of the Board of the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund.
The Group is supported by a small secretariat located in the Department’s premises.
An interim plan covering the 2011/2 financial year is already in place and we have been tasked to produce a holistic multi-year development and research strategy by no later than March 2012. This will set out a programmatic approach which will maximise the impacts of our investments. We will commission actions which advance our strategic priorities and which could not currently be supported through other funding sources.
A scoping study to determine the extent of the Ulster-Scots archive held in museums, libraries and other organisations has recently been completed. This provides an overview of existing Ulster-Scots materials which are an important resource for the community and future researchers. We are now exploring how best to open up access to these archives in light of the recommendations in the study.
Ulster-Scots Language Society Collection
Work is under way to reassemble, catalogue and open up access to the Ulster-Scots Language Society collection, which until recently has been largely inaccessible even to researchers. This is an important step in the implementation of the long-standing Ulster-Scots language agenda.
Ulster-Scots Poetry Project
The University of Ulster has recently begun work on the first extensive digital database of Ulster-Scots literature, making selected poetry texts available to a global audience.
Antrim Ministers’ Minutes
In conjunction with the Ulster-Scots Agency, work is under way to open up access to the Minutes of the Antrim Ministers’ Meetings of 1654/8. These record the business of some of the leaders of the Ulster-Scots community at a formative period in its history.
A proposal has been developed for a substantial archaeological survey of everyday life in the Plantation period. It will identify and document key sites and monuments of historical and archaeological significance. We are drawing up a tender specification and intend to commission this work by early 2012.
Andrew Jackson Cottage
Work has recently been completed on the refurbishment of the Andrew Jackson cottage in partnership with Carrickfergus Borough Council. We are exploring options for including this and other sites in a larger heritage project on the Ulster-Scots roots of American democracy.
Ulster-Scots tourism app
Two of the major economic growth areas for Northern Ireland are tourism and the creative industries. A priority of the Executive’s tourism strategy is to inspire people to discover and share our stories with visitors. A pilot initiative has been commissioned that will deliver an app which will showcase 100 Ulster-Scots sites across Northern Ireland.
Sir James Hamilton employed Thomas Raven to survey his estates between 1625 to 1626. Raven’s maps are now housed in the North Down Museum. They have international importance in the study of colonisation and cartography. Due to their age and rarity, the Museum has been restricted in its display of the folio, with only one page at a time visible. In partnership with North Down Borough Council we are supporting the digitisation of the maps.
We have identified priorities for future funding across our three areas of activity and intend to announce a call for proposals through an open grant scheme early in 2012.