Ulster Scots body seeking £140m for cultural activities

Posted By: August 24, 2017

Proposal paper says community ‘is experiencing discrimination’ as more money spent on Irish

THE body responsible for promoting Ulster Scots is seeking £140 million over the next decade to fund a range of

cultural activities.

The spending proposal was contained in a position paper from Ulster Scots Agency chief executive Ian Crozier which was presented to the parties involved in the Stormont talks.

The document is thought to have been circulated in April this year when the DUP was pitching its plan for a ‘culture act’ to counter demands for a standalone Irish language act.

The 10-page paper calls for increased funds across a range of initiatives, including marching bands, highland dance and public art.

The DUP has not endorsed the position paper, which bemoans the lack of support for Ulster Scots from the Stormont executive, saying it was one of many submitted during the course of the negotiations.

The document claims the Irish language and culture has received hundreds of millions of pounds from the education system, while Ulster-Scots received “nothing”.

A DUP press release claiming more than £171 million has been spent on the Irish language in the five years to 2016 is cited ahead of claims that “the Ulster-Scots community is experiencing discrimination”.

The paper was obtained by the News Letter and argues that the £139.5m requested over a decade would still fall £30m short of what had been spent on the Irish language in the past five years.

It argues that some of its proposals would have “potential” in Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal and suggests scope for securing funding from the Republic’s government.

Within days of submitting the position paper, Mr. Crozier met DUP leader Arlene Foster and MLA Christopher Stalford.

The DUP said there were many papers circulated during the recent talks processes, none of which have “any agreed or any other status”.

“Agreement has not been reached on any of the issues because of Sinn Féin intransigence,” a DUP spokesman said.

“Our position on the Irish language has been spelled out repeatedly and the issues involved cannot be solved by trade-offs – there must be mutual recognition of culture and not one culture being given prominence over another.”

Alliances deputy leader Stephen Farry said any proposals submitted to the talks needed to be “realistic”.

“The approach to Irish and to Ulster-Scots will inevitably be different given the relative use of the languages and the priorities within the respective sectors,” the North Down MLA told the News Letter.

“Alliance is open to supporting a wide range of interventions to promote Ulster Scots but would again stress in terms of cost, these need to be realistic and proportionate.”