From Cornwall Council:
Cornwall Council leader, Julian German, has issued the following message on St Piran’s Day.
Today, people all over Cornwall and beyond will mark St Piran’s Day – our national day.
Many will wish each other “Gool Peran Lowen” meaning Happy Feast of St Piran in our Cornish language. The legends of St Piran, his black and white flag and our distinct Cornish language are key components of the unique and separate identity of the Cornish people.
The celebration of our unique identity and language is strengthened by the UK’s membership of the Council of Europe.
Cornish people are officially recognised through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the Cornish language is protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
The Council of Europe is a completely separate institution to the European Union. It includes 47 countries stretching from Ireland to Russia. It was established by Sir Winston Churchill and other European leaders after the Second World War to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
All countries wishing to be members of the Council of Europe must accept the European Convention on Human Rights – a document created by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, a British Conservative politician and lawyer.
Cornwall Council leader, Julian German
The news this weekend that the UK may no longer accept the European Convention on Human Rights is a considerable worry for all who value human rights – and is particularly worrying for Cornwall.
If the UK did withdraw from the Convention, it will have to leave the Council of Europe. This would deprive the Cornish people and their language of the recognition, respect and protection which the UK’s membership of the Council of Europe provides.
It took years of campaigning before the UK Government officially recognised the Cornish language and Cornish people. Indeed, it wasn’t until the Cornish were protected through the Council of Europe that we saw a Cornish flag flying over 10 Downing Street on St Piran’s Day.
We have a rich history and vibrant culture, but there is one thing Cornish people are missing out on that the other UK national minorities have been afforded – a tick-box in the 2021 census to express their identity as Cornish.
This week it was announced that the terms ‘Asian Welsh’ and ‘Black Welsh’ will be included in the census questionnaire sent to households in Wales following talks between the Welsh government and the Office for National Statistics.
It is time that the government extended the same respect to Cornwall with the inclusion of a specific Cornish tick-box.
We have made, and continue to make, great progress in recognising, protecting, promoting and celebrating our Cornish identity and language.
That progress has come in no small part as a result of the UK’s membership of the Council of Europe.
To risk leaving that body threatens to undo those years of progress and return us to a time when barely anyone celebrated St Piran’s Day.
I for one will not stand by and let that happen. If you feel the same, please write to your MP.