Swin­ney pledges to boost num­ber of Gaelic speak­ers

The Oban Times - - News -

‘GAELIC is a good use of pub­lic funds,’ Scot­land’s ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter has de­clared, as he set out the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s plans to boost the num­bers speaking the lan­guage.

De­liv­er­ing the An­gus Ma­cleod me­mo­rial lec­ture dur­ing the Mòd in Stornoway, Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney gave his first ma­jor speech on the Gaelic lan­guage since as­sum­ing min­is­te­rial re­spon­si­bil­ity for it af­ter the elec­tion in May 2016.

Mr Swin­ney reaf­firmed the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the gov­ern­ment to con­tinue to strengthen the lan­guage, and set out an agenda on ed­u­ca­tion, broad­cast­ing, dig­i­tal and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to sup­port it.

‘Gaelic be­longs in Scot­land,’ he said. ‘It has been spo­ken in this coun­try for well over 1,000 years and I be­lieve this places a duty and a re­spon­si­bil­ity on us as cus­to­di­ans of this her­itage. This is not spe­cial treat­ment or favouritism or a na­tion­al­ist plot. It is sim­ply the steps that should be taken to se­cure a mea­sure of fair treat­ment for our mi­nor­ity lan­guage that has been with us for a long time.’

The Deputy First Min­is­ter added: ‘Later this year, Bòrd na Gàidhlig will be is­su­ing for con­sul­ta­tion the next Na­tional Gaelic Lan­guage Plan. I will be work­ing closely with the Bòrd on this and to­gether we will en­sure this document con­tains the pri­or­i­ties we need to pur­sue in or­der to make fur­ther progress with Gaelic in Scot­land.

‘We want to see an in­crease in the num­bers speaking, us­ing and learn­ing Gaelic. We want to see growth in the sta­tus and ap­peal of Gaelic. We want to en­cour­age and sup­port the use of Gaelic across Scot­land. We will look closely at the steps we need to take to strengthen Gaelic in com­mu­ni­ties where it is still spo­ken by a large per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion.

‘I know many of you have en­coun­tered this hos­til­ity to Gaelic. Th­ese views on Gaelic are just as ground­less and un­wel­come as they are in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing. They be­tray a poor un­der­stand­ing of our coun­try, its his­tory and the re­spect we should show to mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties.

‘Gaelic is a lan­guage of daily use. The sup­port for Gaelic is a good use of pub­lic funds. Gaelic of­fers a range of ben­e­fits to Scot­land. It is a valu­able lan­guage to learn and it de­serves the sup­port of peo­ple of all po­lit­i­cal back­grounds in Scot­land.’

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