Support for Scottish Gaelic ‘not a nationalist plot’, says John Swinney
John Swinney at the SNP conference - Image credit: Aimee Wachtel/Holyrood
Support for Scottish Gaelic is “not a nationalist plot”, John Swinney has said.
Rather than “special treatment”, steps taken to support the language were simply “a measure of fair treatment for Scotland’s minority language”, he affirmed.
Swinney was giving the Angus Macleod Memorial lecture at the Mòd in Stornoway yesterday, his first speech on the subject since he became the government minister responsible for Gaelic in May.
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In the speech Swinney said that “good structures” were now in place to support Gaelic, but they must now be used effectively to “reap the rewards of diversity”.
He confirmed the Scottish Government’s continued support for the language: “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.
“This is not special treatment or favouritism or a nationalist plot.
“It is simply the steps that should be taken to secure a measure of fair treatment for our minority language that has been with us for a long time."
Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic language board, will set out its new development plan later this year and Swinney said he would work with the board to ensure the plan contained the priorities necessary to make further progress with Gaelic in Scotland.
Swinney also said he wanted to ensure the language contributed to economic growth and job opportunities, with digital making that more possible than ever before.
On the subject of hostility to Gaelic, Swinney called such views “groundless and unwelcome”, adding that they “betray a poor understanding of our country, its history and the respect we should show to minority communities”.
Hostility to Gaelic has no place in Scotland, Swinney said.
"Let me set the record straight. Gaelic is a language of daily use. The support for Gaelic is a good use of public funds,” he continued.
“Gaelic offers a range of benefits to Scotland. It is a valuable language to learn and it deserves the support of people of all political backgrounds in Scotland.
“And it will have that support from this Scottish Government and from this Deputy First Minister of Scotland."