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Tuesday, July 28, 1998 Published at 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK


Wilson backs Gaelic learning centre

Brian Wilson: "vital link in the Gaelic chain"

Plans for a Gaelic learning centre on the Scottish island of Islay have taken a step forward as a result of a report which suggests strong local support for the project.

In one of his last moves as Scottish Education Minister, Brian Wilson has called on the Gaelic college on Skye - Sabhal Mór Ostaig - to work with local interests to create a learning centre which would form part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The report recommends that Sabhal Mór Ostaig should lead the project, which is likely to be supported by the local authority, the local enterprise company and private sector interests.

Informal discussions have already taken place with Argyll and Bute District Council about the availability of a former hospital near Bowmore as a possible site for the centre.

The report concludes: "Given the high level of local and partner commitment for this project and the identification of a site and building, it might be ambitious but not unrealistic to target September 1999 as initial completion date for the first phase of the Islay Educational Gaelic and Heritage Centre".

Healthy future

Mr Wilson said the positive conclusions of the report had taken forward the basic idea of a Gaelic learning centre on Islay.

"That would go a long way towards ensuring a healthy future for this vital link in the Gaelic chain, as well as creating jobs and economic activity on Islay.

"A working group, closely linked to the University of the Highlands and Islands project, has already made significant progress.

"I hope that this can now be carried forward rapidly by a partnership which will include the relevant organisations and also local interests on Islay."

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