Agency urges ‘if Ulster-Scots is part of who you are, say it in the Census’

If you have a “wheen o wurds” in Ulster-Scots, make sure you say so in the Census.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 12:45 pm

That’s the message from the Ulster-Scots Agency, which says that Census Day on March 21 is a great way to “capture who we are”.

The Agency is encouraging all local people who feel they have an Ulster-Scots identity to record it in the Census.

Ulster-Scots have been recognised as a people since at least the 1640s, with its own language, heritage and culture. This is reflected in the (mostly) Presbyterian heritage, musical traditions and bands, Scottish dance, sport and other customs.

Dr David Marshall and Louise Clarke from NISRA launching the Census.

“For centuries, people here knew all about the Scottish, English and Irish strands of identity in Ulster. At the birth of Northern Ireland, 100 years ago, key figures like Craig and Carson were very aware of our Ulster-Scots identity,” says the Agency.

“More recently there has been less awareness of Ulster-Scots as a strong identity in its own right, but now is the time to reclaim it as an important part of who we are.

“The Census happens once every 10 years and the information it collects is used by government to determine how public services, including education and culture, are resourced and delivered.

“If you want to see your Ulster-Scots cultural identity recognised and respected; see the Ulster-Scots community properly resourced and represented; and see your Ulster-Scots cultural identity reflected in what your children and grandchildren learn in school, make sure you say it in the Census!

“When you record your national identity first tick all boxes which apply e.g. British / Irish / Northern Irish, but then use the “other” box to record that you are also an Ulster-Scot. If you have a wheen o wurds in Ulster-Scots, which most of us do, use the language question to record that you have some ability, that you speak, understand and use it every day. If you aren’t sure, visit the Ulster-Scots Agency website and test yourself.

“For the first time, the 2021 census will be ‘digital-first’ and the online system also allows you to complete the Census using the Ulster-Scots language. This will be daunting, because most people who speak Ulster-Scots aren’t used to seeing it written down, but if you choose to complete in Ulster-Scots, you can also see the questions in English, so you will still understand and you can pick up some new Ulster-Scots words on the way. Most people will complete in English and that’s fine, just make sure that you record that Ulster-Scots is part of your identity and that you can speak some Ulster-Scots.”