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Ulster research has driven legislative and societal transformation in relation to language in Northern Ireland (NI). First, experts at Ulster played a direct role in the transformation of legislation to recognise Irish language rights in NI, leading to the language occupying a central role in the development of the New Decade, New Approach programme for NI government. Second, our work has strengthened the profile of non-indigenous minority languages in post-conflict NI.

Key impacts:

  • Influencing government policy on language of indigenous communities.
  • Driving the change of local council policies for minority languages.
  • Enhancing community relations through language.
  • Informing policy provision for Irish speakers.
  • Enhancing understanding of the benefit of bilingualism to communities, policy makers, practitioners.
  • Reducing the academic attainment gap of young multilingual speakers leading to their increased integration.
  • Research Context 

    Two strands exist within our research underpinning impact work in transforming views on languages in NI.

    Language identities in post-conflict NI

    Official recognition and reconciliation Language is fundamentally connected to the politics and culture of a place.

    In Nl, people’s affiliations to the Irish language or Ulster-Scots are often considered as markers of Irish or British identity respectively.

    This is challenging in the context of recent conflict and is vastly different from other UK indigenous language communities (e.g. Scottish Gaelic and Welsh).

    The Benefits of Multilingualism

    Supporting Speakers, Informing Policy Makers. A second theme in our research has been multilingualism for migrant populations. Folli, Sevdali, Kennedy and Rhys  demonstrated its substantial individual and societal benefits.

    Focusing on cases of transfer of linguistic features between the weak and dominant language of a multilingual child, they found that the weaker language can appear to affect the more dominant language in certain grammatical features in a predictable way.

    This indicates that innovative approaches are required to assist in supporting bilingual and/or multilingual ability.

  • Sources To Corroborate 
    • Testimonial from The Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge).
    • FLIP/UCoM report on Language Made Fun (video).
    • Testimonial from KRW legal team that challenged the Newtownabbey Council.
    • Testimonial from East Belfast mission (Turas) project manager.
    • Conradh na Gaeilge reports on the change of attitude to Irish language across the island of Ireland.
    • Barnardo’s report on the Language Made Fun impact.
    • Testimonial from North West Migrant’s Forum.
    • Testimonial from the Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland.
    • Testimonial from Director of Irish, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, The Government of Ireland