SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan (pictured), has launched a series of community conversations on Gaelic’s future as a community language in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Tiree.
Consultations will establish an open forum to discuss and determine appropriate actions in securing the future of the language within the islands.
The recent publication of a comprehensive sociolinguistic study into the use of Gaelic in the vernacular island communities, titled ‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Communities’, concluded that the language will fall into obsolescence unless significant 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 (UHI) and a cross-party group of fellow politicians.
Nine community meetings are planned to take place in the late autumn across Na h-Eileanan Siar, Skye and Tiree to engage island residents and organisations.
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, Alasdair Allan MSP 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.”