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CELTIC LEAGUE PRESS INFORMATION
EQUALITY WATCHDOG PREVARICATES ON CORNISH ETHNICITY ISSUE
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (UK) have told the General Secretary (GS) of the Celtic League that they have still not determined a position over whether the Cornish should be treated as a separate ethnicity.
The EHRC – which emerged out of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) – told the GS, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, that they were still seeking legal advice on the issue, but should make a decision within a few weeks time. Over the last six month the GS has been attempting to organise a round table event at the European Parliament in Brussels, to discuss the inclusion of the Cornish under the Framework Convention for the Protection for National Minorities, but has been consistently let down by speakers being `unavailable' to speak at the event, including the Council of Europe, the UK Government and the EHRC.
The EHRC was the latest organisation this week to say that they won't be attending the event, which was scheduled to take place on the 29th September 2009 and was the third rescheduled date this year. The reason the event was previously cancelled and rescheduled was in order to fit in with dates more suitable to invited speakers. It now looks likely that next weeks' date will have to be cancelled yet again, due to a lack of speakers.
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), which changed its name to the EHRC in 2006, was supportive of the Cornish being included under the terms of the Framework Convention and recommended to the UK Government that they did the same. However when the CRE became the EHRC, the organisation needed to discuss the Cornish issue once again, but so far have yet to come to a decision on the issue.
Among other things, the EHRC is responsible for advising the UK government on issues related to race and ethnicity and so in respect of recognising the Cornish as a distinct ethnic and racial group, it is important that the EHRC come out strongly in favour. A recommendation from the EHRC to the UK government in favour of the Cornish would be especially helpful to the cause. This is especially the case in the run up to the production of the 3rd UK Compliance report to the Council of Europe (which is expected this year), where the UK government is obliged to state any new developments in the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. In their 2006 Compliance Report to the Council of Europe, the UK Government uncharacteristically singled out the Cornish specifically to say why they should not to be included under the Framework Convention.
The GS is organising the round table on behalf of two Cornish and European youth organisations and with the support of Plaid Cymru's MEP, Jill Evans. Rhisiart Tal-e-bot said:
"There will be a lot of young Cornish people who will be really disappointed if the round table has to be cancelled again, especially at the eleventh hour. Travel arrangements and days off work have already been arranged by some people to attend the round table for the third time this year, highlighting the importance the issue has for them.
"It is very likely now that we may have to reschedule the event again and wait until the EHRC finally determines their position or perhaps we should go back to the drawing board and organise a similar event to put the focus entirely on young Cornish people. Its young people who wanted the event to happen and they are the ones who have most at stake here.
"This is an important issue and needs to be discussed. The reason why we wanted it discussed at the European Parliament is that the issue does not just have relevance for the Cornish, but for other groups that are not included under the Convention by their governments, like the Bretons for example."
The official recognition of the Cornish under the Framework Convention has been a long running resolution for the Celtic League.
Framework Convention for the Protection of national Minorities:
J B Moffatt
Director of Information
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