Focus must be on protecting and promoting Gaelic, says MSP Rhoda Grant
NORTH MSP Rhoda Grant has called for a redoubling of efforts to protect and promote the Gaelic language.
Speaking in a debate on indigenous languages in the Scottish Parliament, the Highlands and Islands Labour MSP welcomed the establishment of September 26 as the European Day of Languages and said that it was “a critical time" for Gaelic.
“When Labour was in power we supported Gaelic to such a degree that we successfully passed the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. I am proud of that achievement, but our work is not done," Mrs Grant said.
"Gaelic is a significant part of our culture and heritage, and deserves every effort to preserve it – not just as an academic language but as a living, breathing, contemporary part of modern Scottish culture.”
She said she was disappointed that progress on Gaelic had stalled.
It was reported last month that the number of Gaelic speakers in Scottish island communities has fallen dramatically within the past decade.
Mrs Grant said: “At a critical time for Gaelic, the focus must be on protecting and promoting the language.
“The late John MacLeod [president of An Comunn Gàidhealach] was passionate about achieving Unesco status of intangible cultural heritage for Gaelic, not only for the language itself but also for the cultural heritage it holds.
“It would be a fitting legacy for John that the Unesco status he campaigned for be achieved. To do this we must double our efforts to protect and promote Gaelic in order to turn around the dwindling numbers of speakers."
After opening her speech in Gaelic Mrs Grant encouraged the Scottish Government to look at ways of promoting learning Gaelic to people as a New Year’s resolution and encourage its use in social situations, where languages flourish, as well as in formal settings.
“Times have changed,” Mrs Grant told fellow MSPs. “A generation ago, indigenous languages and dialects were frowned upon and discouraged. Now, so close to losing them, we begin to see their worth.”