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by Jenni Davidson
22 September 2020
Alasdair Allan launches consultation on saving Gaelic as a community language

Alasdair Allan MSP - Image credit: Mark K Jackson

Alasdair Allan launches consultation on saving Gaelic as a community language

An SNP MSP has launched a consultation on saving Gaelic as community language.  

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan will hold community meetings in the islands to discuss appropriate actions to secure the future of the language in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Tiree.

This follows the recent publication of a comprehensive sociolinguistic study into the use of Gaelic in the island communities, The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Communities, which concluded that the language will fall out of use within a decade unless changes are made in approach and strategy.

The MSP is working with the authors of the study from the Soillse research team based at the University of the Highlands and Islands and a cross-party group of fellow politicians.

Nine community meetings with island residents and organisations are planned to take place in the late autumn across the Western Isles, Skye and Tiree.

Residents will also have the option to submit written opinions as part of the process.

As well as discussions about Gaelic usage in the home and community, the meetings will gauge opinion on whether a Gaelic community cooperative – Urras na Gàidhlig – could be an appropriate structure to coordinate and drive forward local development actions under the direct control of the Gaelic-speaking community.

Commenting on the consultations, Allan said: “Gaelic forms a vital part of the cultural ecosystem which informs our shared identity, values and wellbeing.

“The language’s visible decline in community and family usage is a serious concern to everyone working to foster a thriving, sustainable society in the Western Isles.

“Against the continued loss of Gaelic, however, I am aware of extensive support and goodwill for the language amongst islands residents.

“We need to engage all parties in ensuring that future solutions are rooted within the community.
“Where do we want to see Gaelic in the next decade? We need to have a broad conversation about the language’s future and determine appropriate steps to get us where we want to be.

“Ultimately, this should start and end with the community, with the government playing a crucial role in supporting them to realise this.”

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