THE Council of Europe has accused the UK of failing to meet key treaty obligations over Gaelic and other minority languages.

In a paper released today, the Strasbourg-based body listed failings over the provision for and promotion of Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Cornish.

It also lists failures relating to the use of Scots.

While the paper acknowledges that devolved administrations “encourage minority language-medium and minority language education in almost all territories “covered by the near-20-year-old European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), it says “there is still a need to raise the awareness of the English-speaking majority population about the United Kingdom’s regional or minority languages as an integral part of the United Kingdom’s cultural heritage, in particular as regards Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish”.

And it says teaching and study of Scots is lacking under the UK’s charter obligations.

The wide-ranging paper makes 20 different recommendations, with many of these relating to the use of Irish in Northern Ireland. That issue was a major obstacle in the prolonged Stormont stalemate that saw the assembly go three years without meeting.

The Council said it was removing political tensions from the promotion of Irish – still prohibited in Northern Irish courts under laws set in 1737 – was “essential” and more must also be done in education and the media to promote Ulster Scots, which was created by the migration of Scottish people in the 1600s.

It also called for Cornwall Council to gain full membership of the British Irish Council to aid the use of Cornish, with the funding for this to be devolved to that region from London.

The report said broadcasting in Welsh and Scottish Gaelic had improved but services in the latter are still insufficient.

And it said the UK is failing to fulfil its undertaking to ensure “the teaching of the history and the culture which is reflected by Scottish Gaelic”.

It also criticised the “lack of newspapers in all regional or minority languages” in the UK, including Manx Gaelic.

On Scots, the Council said measures are needed to “promote mutual understanding between all the linguistic groups of the country” and on the “respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to Scots”, particularly in education and the mass media.

Established in 1949, the human rights organisation counts 47 states as members.

The UK has been asked to submit evidence relating to its three main asks – on Scottish Gaelic education, the use of Irish and the devolution of Cornish – before the year is out.