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Cornish to mount legal challenge

Philip Hosking
11 September 2008

Philip Hosking (Cornwall, The Cornish Democrat): Back in August 2007 Our Kingdom published the article -You can't write us out of history- which described the strength of feeling for the Cornish identity coupled with the stubborn refusal of government to give this minority group any form of recognition. This stretches from refusing devolution even when presented with proof of a popular demand to providing a long list of contradictory reasons why the Cornish should not be included in the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM).

The Convention deals with a plethora of minority rights issues ranging from non-discrimination, equality before the law, the avoidance of assimilation and the promotion, through educational and other programs, of the minority identity, language, history and culture. The inclusion of the Cornish within the Convention has been the objective of the pressure group Cornwall 2000 and Cornish activist John Angarrack since the late 90's.

The months surrounding the release of Angarracks' latest book -Scat t'Larrups? Resist and Survive (reviewed here)- have seen a flurry of activity in Cornish circles culminating on the 5th of this month with the opening of a Cornish Fighting Fund, the intention being to mount a legal challenge against the governments decision to exclude the Cornish from recognition within the terms of the Convention.

Quoted from the CFF website:

The purpose of the fund is to pay much of the costs involved in pursuing a legal action against the UK Government. The action is necessary after government's constant, dogmatic and wholly irrational, refusal to include the Cornish within an international treaty designed to, among other things, introduce educational pluralism in their traditional homeland and thus bring to an end the forced assimilation of the Cornish people. That treaty is the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Please study this short summary of the situation and help us take the steps necessary to secure, among other things, equal educational opportunity for all pupils in Cornish schools.

It should be asked why there is such intransigence from the government in the first place? Why have we come to legal blows? Angarrack and others suggest that the unresolved constitutional status of Cornwall plays a key role in paralysing any progress, but what is certain is that the Duchy is only one in a long list of undemocratic and unaccountable bodies who hold sway in Kernow.

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