The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act 2022 and compliance with the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages

Main Article Content

Róisín Á Costello

Keywords

language rights, Irish language, Ulster Scots, Northern Ireland, minority languages, regional languages

Abstract

The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act was passed on 6 December 2022. The contents of the resulting Act are based primarily on draft legislation published alongside the 2020 New Decade New Approach Agreement that was introduced before the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2020 as part of an integrated package of legislation. The 2022 Act represents the first provision that has been made to recognise minority languages in Northern Ireland and offers the first opportunity to reflect critically on the commitment to minority language rights in Northern Ireland – and how those commitments reflect the requirements of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. This article argues that the Act fails to satisfy the minimum criteria of the Charter, but nevertheless represents positive progress towards achieving minimum benchmarks in terms of minority language rights and policy which may be supplemented in coming years.

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