An alliance of language groups across Britain and Ireland have today (Monday) released a joint letter supporting the campaign to stay in the European Union, pointing to major cultural and economic advantages.
Campaigners and groups who support the Cornish, Scots, Gaelic, Irish and Welsh languages along with an umbrella group of European language campaigners have signed a letter which highlights the importance of remaining in the EU in order to protect and promote lesser-used languages.
Among the signatories are Dr Loveday Jenkin from Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek (The Cornish Language Society), Jamie Bevan from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Michael Hance of the Scots Language Society, Dr Gwenllian Lansdown Davies from Mudiad Meithrin, Dr Davyth Hicks from the European Language Equality Network, Liam Ó Flannagáin from Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta which campaigns for Irish-medium education, and Garry Nic holas from the National Eisteddfod.
The joint letter states: “If our countries left the European Union, we would be excluded from the rights shared by European citizens.
“We would furthermore be at the mercy of governments that have shown neither the interest nor the desire to protect and promote the rights of speakers of our nations and regions’ languages, and have throughout much of our shared history conducted aggressive language policies designed to eradicate our languages.
“Neither would we have access to European language project funding, which would be detrimental to nongovernmental and educational bodies.
“Leaving would impede our young people’s prospects and employability; European funding has offered vital investment for many of our communities’ economies.
“The EU has been, and can be further still, a great bastion of hope for the minoritised languages of our countries.
“At no point under the current ‘Brexit’ debate has there been any informed deliberation concerning the future of the lesser used indigenous languages of these islands.
“We fear that Brexit would lead to an insecure future for our communities, as the UK Government’s recent abolition of funding for the Cornish language demonstrates.
“Being a part of a heterogeneous European Union with its robust congregation of minority and majority cultures allows for a better understanding and protection of our own languages.
“We, as representatives of indigenous lesser-used language communities in these islands, therefore conclude that in order to ensure the safety and prosperity of our languages and their communities we must remain within the European Union, contribute towards its further development in the spirit of the European Union as a human rights project, as a guarantor of peace, social justice, cooperation, and equal opportunity for the peoples of our continent, and for a Europe united in diversity.”