A new five-year language strategy to make Belfast a more inclusive, welcoming city has been launched by the Lord Mayor Councillor Nuala McAllister at City Hall today (Monday 14 May).
With more than 70 languages now spoken in Belfast, the city council has committed to developing and delivering a strategic approach to language diversity in line with the aims of the city’s long-term development plan, the Belfast Agenda.
The strategy, which will run until 2023, follows public consultation with stakeholders including the many communities themselves and is an ongoing development of our draft linguistic policy.
Councillor McAllister, whose theme for her year in office has been ‘Global Belfast’, said: “Linguistic diversity is just one of many factors which impact on achieving the aims of the Belfast Agenda, our long term development plan for the city.
“This has four pillars to support inclusive growth – Growing the Economy; Living Here; City Development and Working and Learning. The language strategy is part of that inclusive work – it establishes a transparent set of principles for promoting, protecting and enhancing the linguistic diversity of the city.”
“The strategy develops five work strands promoting Irish Language; Ulster-Scots; Sign Language; New Communities Languages and Languages and Communications for disabled people,” she added.
“Good communication and engagement underpin the success of the Belfast Agenda and the launch of today’s Language Strategy is contributing to that.
“Languages, with their complex identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for everyone. Understanding language needs and planning language provisions is key to not only delivering effective services for the future, but also to giving communities a sense of pride and confidence in their place in our city.”
46,000 New Jobs
Professor Janice Carruthers, Queen’s University Belfast, also spoke at the launch about the challenges and opportunities linguistic diversity presents for Belfast as we move to create 46,000 new jobs in Belfast and increase the number of residents by 66,000 by 2035.
The Professor is the Leadership Fellow for Modern Languages with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is currently undertaking a three-year funded project on language policy, entitled Foreign, Indigenous and Community Languages in the Devolved Regions of the UK: Policy and Practice for Growth.
Professor Carruthers said: “Language is central to communication, to relationships and to identity. This initiative will be well worth the effort because language is so fundamental to who we are and how we welcome others to Belfast. The Language Strategy is a crucial step in the right direction and I wish the City Council every success in taking it forward.”
A wide range of stakeholders including community, health, social and economic groups from across the city attended today’s launch.
More information on the language strategy is available on our website www.belfastcity.gov.uk/languagestrategy
Copies of the strategy can requested by telephoning 02890 320202 Or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.