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Speaking up: Island communities to be asked for ideas to help save Gaelic

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The Scottish Government is poised to launch a consultation with Gaelic communities on the islands to help find ways to preserve the language.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney revealed the plan in Holyrood as he called for “ideas and opportunities” to be suggested to encourage the use of Gaelic.

It follows a study by a team of Gaelic experts and socio-linguists at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) that warned last month the language could die out within a decade.

Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands MSP, quizzed the education secretary on the government’s response to the matter on Thursday.

Mr Swinney said: “The Scottish Government welcomes new ideas and opportunities to promote and encourage the use of the Gaelic language.

John Swinney MSP.

“This UHI publication raises concerns about levels of Gaelic use in some island areas, and in July I met with the chair and the chief executive and policy officials of Bòrd na Gàidhlig to discuss the issues raised in the report.

“There are at present a range of important interventions in place, which we will continue to support.

“In addition I will initiate a consultation to give community organisations in the islands the opportunity to give us their views on how to improve the use of Gaelic in the islands.

“We will also further reflect on these issues at a discussion I will host next week on implementing the range of measures that arise out of the five-year National Plan for Gaelic, as part of the annual update.”

Mr Cameron urged Mr Swinney to help establish a summit to discuss the issue, but the SNP minister said he would rather first let the consultation “take its course”, but said he would be happy to take part in any discussions afterwards.

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