The British government has announced that the Cornish are joining the Irish, Scots, and Welsh as official members of the United Kingdom’s Celtic minorities.
This decision comes after a long campaign by Cornish people wishing to protect their distinct language and culture and have it formally recognized. As a national minority group, under a European convention, this means that the Cornish people have the same rights of protection as their Celtic cousins.
Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom, has been part of England for a millennium, but now, after 15 years of campaigning, the Cornish are officially recognized as a distinct minority.
Campaigners submitted two reports to Westminster and lobbied to achieve their goal. Dick Cole, leader of the Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow, which campaigns for a separate national assembly, told the Independent, “We are absolutely elated. The fact that Cornish culture, language and identity is now formally a national minority on a par with the Welsh, Scots and Irish is fantastic. We shall savor the moment.”
The 2011 Census found that 84,000 people declared themselves as Cornish and in a 2011 survey 41 percent of school pupils in the area identified themselves as Cornish.
In 2010 the Cornish language was classified as extinct by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. However, the language is now enjoying a robust revival. In March 2014, Nick Clegg the deputy Prime Minister of Britain pledge to invest $200,000 (£120,000) into the Cornish Language Partnership (MAGA) to promote and develop the language.
Mebyon Kernow is campaigning for Cornish self-government within the United Kingdom.
Cole told the Plymouth Herald, “We are going to continue our campaign for a Cornish assembly and I am sure we’ll get local support.”
Communities Minister Stephen Williams added, “The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing Saint Piran’s flag flying with extra Celtic pride on March 5 next year.”
Here’s a short clip on beautiful Celtic Cornwall:
Here’s a Cornish miner speaking his native tongue: