A government spokesman has cited majority support throughout Scotland for the Gaelic Language. Pledging the support of the Scottish Government to the long term growth of Scots Gaelic, John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the Gaelic language, delivered a ringing endorsement of the Celtic Tongue of Scotland in a speech in Stornoway (Steòrnabhagh) on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Gaelic speaking heartland.
Swinney delivered his remarks on Scots Gaelic while giving the Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture at the Royal National in Stornoway on October 19th. The Royal National Mòd is organized by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association) and is world renowned as Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival. The Royal National Mòd affords opportunities for people of all ages to perform across a range of competitive disciplines including Gaelic music and song, highland dancing, instrumental, drama, sport and literature.
These were Swinney’s inaugural remarks on the subject of the future of Gaelic since being named to his post by First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon.
In confirming the Scottish Government’s continued support for Gaelic, Swinney was quoted in multiple media outlets: “As a long-serving minister in the Scottish Government, but one who has only recently assumed responsibility for the Gaelic language, I want to make clear to you my determination to work with all who have an interest in nurturing the language, with the structures and gains we have made, to pursue the aim of increasing the numbers learning, speaking and using Gaelic. That is the Government's clear aim and priority and we must use all the gains of the last decades to make further progress with this aim. The reason for this commitment is quite simple. Gaelic belongs in Scotland. It has been spoken in this country for well over 1000 years and I believe this places a duty and a responsibility on us as custodians of this heritage.”
Taking aim at the enemies of Gaelic and calling for an end to hostility towards the Celtic Tongue, Swinney continued: “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. My very clear view on this is that this hostility to Gaelic has no place in Scotland. So let me set the record straight. Gaelic is a language of daily use. The support for Gaelic is a good use of public funds.”
The Deputy First Minister pledged the cooperation with the future efforts of the Bòrd na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic Language Board) when the Bòrd rolls out its new development plan later this year. Swinney indicated that he will work with the Bòrd to ensure the plan contained the priorities necessary to make further progress with Gaelic in Scotland.