Swinney pledges to boost number of Gaelic speakers
‘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.’