Cornish people granted minority status within UK

Cornish flag The Cornish will gain the same status as the Scots, Welsh and Irish

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Cornish people will be granted minority status under European rules for the protection of national minorities.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander made the announcement on a visit to the county.

Dick Cole, leader of Mebyon Kernow, which campaigns for Cornish devolution, said: "This is a fantastic development. This is a proud day for Cornwall."

The Cornish will gain the same status as other Celtic communities the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

What does minority status for the Cornish mean?

  • The Cornish will be afforded the same protections as the Welsh, Scottish and the Irish
  • This means that government departments and public bodies will be required to take Cornwall's views into account when making decisions.
  • It ensures that the rights of national minorities are respected by combating discrimination, promoting equality and preserving and developing the culture and identity of national minorities.
  • The status does not attract extra money

On a visit to Bodmin Mr Alexander said: "Cornish people have a proud history and a distinct identity.

"I am delighted that we have been able to officially recognise this and afford the Cornish people the same status as other minorities in the UK."

'Celtic pride'

Mebyon Kernow leader Mr Cole said: "A lot of people have been working for many years to get Cornwall the recognition other Celtic people of the UK already receive.

"The detail is still to come out on what this might mean, but make no mistake that this is a proud day for Cornwall."

The less than snappily-named Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities prohibits "any discrimination based on belonging to a national minority".

More specifically, states which have signed up to it have to undertake "appropriate measures" to protect people against "threats or acts of discrimination".

What this actually means in practice, though, is less clear.

The Convention also stipulates that national minorities should be protected from "assimilation".

What that might entail for Cornwall's complex and longstanding relationship with England, east of the Tamar also raises many interesting questions.

The Convention is nothing to do with the European Union but operates under the authority of the Council of Europe, an international organisation which promotes co-operation between European countries in areas like legal standards and human rights.

The European Court of Human rights - which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights - is the Council's best-known body.

Bards from Gorsedh Kernow, which represents "the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall" welcomed the "historic announcement".

Grand Bard of Cornwall, Maureen Fuller, said: "Cornish people have a proud and distinct identity and a genuinely democratic society respects the ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity of people belonging to a national minority.

"We are proud of our history and our unique language and look forward to the day when these feature as regular subjects on school timetables and are spoken of by Cornish people as a way of life."

A group of key figures within Cornwall has been working on the paper setting out why the Cornish should be recognised by the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Campaigner Bert Biscoe, an Independent councillor who is a member of the group, said: "I very much welcome that the Cornish as a group can stand equally beside all other groups in British society."

Cornwall Council leader John Pollard said: "There are obviously significant benefits for Cornwall in being included within the framework convention, which is worth celebrating, and I pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly over many years to achieve this status."

Cornwall in numbers



  • £75bn value of economy (0.6% of UK)

  • £22,087 average annual earnings (GB £26,551)

  • £1.1bn average annual tourism revenue

  • In the worst 5% of UK areas for households at risk of poverty

Getty Images
Tin Mine Cornwall's landscape is dotted with reminders of its former status as a major tin mining area
Gorsedh Kernow Bards from Gorsedh Kernow welcomed the "historic announcement"
Penzance The Olympic torch relay in 2012 started in Cornwall

Key words in Cornish

Dydh da


Dyw genes


  • Fatla genes?
    How are you?

  • Yn poynt da (meur rasta)
    Very well (thank you)

  • Yeghes da!
    Cheers/Good health!

Getty Images
Porthleven Porthleven in Cornwall provided some of the most dramatic pictures of recent winter storms
Samantha and David Cameron Samantha and David Cameron gave their child Florence a middle name of Endellion, after a village near where they went on holiday

He said national minority status would not initially bring any additional funding or powers to the council or to Cornwall.

However, it does mean that Cornish people will be afforded the same protections as the Welsh, Scottish and the Irish; with government departments and public bodies required to take Cornwall's views into account when making decisions.

Loveday Jenkin, Mebyon Kernow party: "Cornwall is not England"

Communities Minister Stephen Williams added: "This is a great day for the people of Cornwall who have long campaigned for the distinctiveness and identity of the Cornish people to be recognised officially.

Aims of the convention:

  • To ensure that the rights of national minorities are respected by combating discrimination
  • Promoting equality
  • Preserving and developing the culture and identity of national minorities

"The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing St Piran's Flag flying with extra Celtic pride on 5 March next year."

Three previous attempts to include the Cornish in the Framework Convention had been unsuccessful, with the last made in 2011.

In March this year, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the government would be investing £120,000 into the Cornish Language Partnership to promote and develop the language.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 935.

    It's in the EU's interest to fragment the constituent nation states in order to maintain it hegemony. This is part of the plan.
    One of my daughters was born in the USA, is a British dual-national and lives in Cornwall. I hope the change will help her as a 'Cornish' person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 865.

    Cornwall is such a beautiful place. I've just spent my lunch hour walking a bit of the coast path at a secret location near Land's End. I saw Celandines, Primroses, Buzzards, Dolphins, Spiders and Lizards (only two people). Have a super sunshiny day. Love from a relaxed West Penwithian! x

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    I'm Cornish with Cornish roots and family but I can't see how this will benefit the county. Seems like a huge waste of time and money to me. Like previous comments, it's a shame there are people desperate to segregate themselves rather than join together as a nation, all identities combined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    In my village we have 80% holiday homes that are empty 50% of the year. We lost our school, post office and local shop. We have an arthritic bus service that runs five times a day but not to any cities and we have no train service. Our nearest petrol station charges £1.49 per l for diesel. You cannot get to Truro, Exeter or Plymouth without a car. Minority status is too late. We are ENDANGERED.

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    I am proud to call myself Cornish. This is a great day for all Cornish men and women. Kernow bys vyken.


Comments 5 of 22


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