Official status of languages in the UK and Ireland

Daithí Mac Sithigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6094 Downloads (Pure)


What are the official languages of the United Kingdom and of Ireland? Constitutions typically provide a starting point, although the answer is clearer in the case of the latter than the former. Nonetheless, the adoption of language legislation by the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament, in respect of Welsh and Gaelic, forms part of a general shift towards official status within the UK; clarity in Northern Ireland, contemplated by the Belfast Agreement and St. Andrews Agreement, is further off. These changes also highlight an emerging story of the status of recognised languages at UK level. Meanwhile, the constitutional position in the Republic of Ireland has been supplemented by legislation and caselaw. This article considers the developing status of various languages (especially Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish) in the UK and Ireland, set in the context of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, issues of identity and territory, and the similarities and differences between laws on language within and across both states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-102
Number of pages26
JournalCommon Law World Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Official status of languages in the UK and Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this