Gaelic Bill Consultation analysis


Professor Richard Johnstone , in collaboration with staff of Leirsinn, Isle of Skye


Bòrd na Gàidhlig and SEED.




May-July, 2004


Scottish Gaelic is one of Scotland 's indigenous heritage languages, with its numbers of speakers shown by the last three census reports to be in serious decline: approx. 82,000 (1981), approx. 65,000 (1991), approx. 58,000 (2001). A variety of measures have been initiated at national and local levels to help reverse the decline. These include the Gaelic Bill, which is due to be put before the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish executive undertook a public consultation exercise based on a Consultation document which signalled what the Bill might contain and which asked a number of consultation questions. The consultation exercise attracted a large number of responses (over 3,000). Professor Richard Johnstone was commissioned to undertake an independent analysis of thee responses and did so in collaboration with staff of Leirsinn the research centre for Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye.

The main conclusions of the report are :

  • secure/legal status for the Gaelic language is considered to be a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of the eventual survival of the language in its present threatened state
  • the notion of a Gaelic Language Bill is widely welcomed, but respondents (especially but not exclusively those from the Gaelic community) tend to believe that improvements have to be made in order to give the Bill more force.
  • Bòrd na Gàidhlig needs powers to implement the National Gaelic Language Plan, and must be properly resourced. However, the Scottish Executive should feel obliged to accept ultimate responsibility.
  • the Bill should reinforce the availability and provision of Gaelic Medium Education. There is a strong request for this where 'reasonable demand' exists, and for the provision of Gaelic 'as a subject' to be more widely available across Scotland.

This analysis, along with individual responses and meetings with interested parties, will help inform Ministers' consideration of amendments to the Gaelic Language Bill prior to its formal introduction to Parliament later this year.


Gaelic Bill Consultation analysis.docx



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