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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Gael warning over language
Gaelic class
The number of Gaelic speakers is decreasing
Gaelic speakers have urged MSPs to support calls for legislation to ensure the future of the language.

A delegation from the Western Isles has travelled to Edinburgh with the message that the Scottish Executive is not doing enough to support Gaelic.

They believe that the creation of a Gaelic Language Act is required to safeguard its future.

But the executive said that to do so would represent an inappropriate use of resources.


We feel that the government should be supporting our language

Cathy Mary MacMillan

There are an estimated 2,000 children currently going through Gaelic-medium education and the number of people speaking the language is decreasing.

The Gaelic students said if the executive did not act now then the language's future would be in doubt.

Supporters of a future act are calling for Gaelic advisers to be located in a permanent parliamentary department.

They also want a rise in funding for Gaelic courses in further education colleges plus their own broadcasting station.

Cathy Mary MacMillan told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that official status should be granted.

Legal status

"We feel that the government should be supporting our language, as it is a minority language," she said.

"The media is only a small part of the language and we have to consider education and the communities.

"The need is not only in the Highlands and Islands but it is Scotland-wide."

Secure status would give the language security for further funding, development and opportunities, she added.

However, Tourism and Culture Minister Mike Watson said that a language act would not be considered.

Mike Watson
Mike Watson said Gaelic was being supported

He said: "Legal status would mean a requirement for Gaelic to be taught across the whole of Scotland and that would not be an appropriate use of executive resources.

"But I am putting as many resources as I can into developing the language."

The minister said he could not justify legal status for the language if it meant Gaelic teaching in the Borders and Fife where demand was low.

He said that the executive was allocating funds to teacher training and had made significant progress over the past year.

However, Mr Watson said he was not opposed to the idea of discussing the idea further in the parliament.

He said a bill proposed by the Scottish National Party would be discussed in due course.

An official report in May called for the introduction of a language act.

The report, entitled A Fresh Start for Gaelic, was prepared by the Ministerial Advisory Group on Gaelic, which was led by Professor Donald Meek of Edinburgh University.

See also:

22 May 02 | Scotland
16 Mar 02 | Scotland
13 Oct 01 | Scotland
08 Sep 00 | Scotland
02 Mar 00 | Scotland
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