Draft Policy on Linguistic Diversity

Closed 18 Jul 2017

Opened 23 May 2017


Belfast aims to be a welcoming and inclusive city for all.  To help achieve this aim and to meet other best practice guidance and legal requirements, we want to develop and implement a linguistic diversity policy.

Our draft Linguistic Diversity Policy outlines our approach to promoting different languages in the Belfast City Council area. It builds on our 2006 Language Policy which needs to be revised to take account of the changing population and other developments.

The draft policy provides background on the changing dynamics of the population of Belfast and also explains the legal framework, current central government strategies and details of previous engagement with stakeholders.  A copy of the draft policy can be viewed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. 

Based on this information, the draft policy recommends an approach which includes:

  • The development of an over-arching Language Framework, which  articulates our commitment to supporting minority languages whilst allowing the different needs of speakers of Irish, Ulster-Scots and other minority languages to be addressed effectively. 
  • Develop an Irish Language Policy which focuses primarily on the enhancement and protection of the language;
  • Develop an Ulster-Scots Language policy which looks more to the promotion of the language and the cultural and heritage aspects of the language rather than the need for translation of documents and interpretation services. 
  • Develop a policy on other minority languages (including sign languages) which focuses on ensuring good communication and increasing awareness and understanding of minority cultures

Why We Are Consulting

We want Belfast to be a welcoming and inclusive city and promoting different languages is part of that. 

However, we are committed to consulting local people on any changes to policy.  We recognise that local people may want to be involved in these considerations and that there may be issues that need to be amended or addressed.

We will therefore take a staged approach to the implementation of the final policy and any related frameworks.  An action plan will be developed after the consultation has ended.  In particular this action plan will aim to address any key concerns in year one of the plan.

There are different ways you can get involved in the consultation.  One of the main ways in which you can make your voice heard is by completing the questionnaire - please click on the link to access the questionnaire.  You can also attend one of our two engagement events, which will ask similar questions to those asked in the questionnaire. Both events will be the same so there is no need to attend both.

Focus Groups

We are also holding separate focus groups on a range of themes for individuals or organisations interested in particular aspects of the proposed policy.  If you would like more information about these focus groups or how your organisation can be involved please contact us.


The relevant documents are available, on request, in alternative formats - Braille, audio, large print, easy read. The council will also consider requests to produce it in other languages. If you require the documents in these or other formats please contact us using the contact details on the top right hand of this page.



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