In Ireland a significant number of government departments and other public bodies, along with many public officials, have spent much of the last decade actively opposing the nation’s Official Languages Act of 2003, a piece of legislation introduced eighty years after independence with the objective of ensuring some form of limited equality for Irish-speaking citizens with their English-speaking peers when accessing state services and resources. As the 2011 report by An Coimisinéir Teanga on the workings of the Languages Act has revealed, the institutional discrimination towards Irish-speakers in our culturally English civil service is as virulent as ever.
In Scotland they have their own problems trying to gain equality and respect for their indigenous Gaelic tongue, in the form of the Scottish language, but the willingness of much of the body politic in Scotland to support the Gaelic Language Act of 2005, particularly the governing Scottish Nationalist Party under Alex Salmond, has led to an increase in the social and cultural standing of Scottish-speakers. Though there is still far to go before true equality and equal access to the resources of the state is reached it is a promising start. But just a start.
Along the way there must be more actions like this one, reported by the Stornoway Gazette:
“Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Gaelic Language Plan, which was recently published, aims to further promote and strengthen Gaelic in every area of the work and operations of the college, which is the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.
Sabhal Mòr, along with a number of other colleges and universities, was asked by Bòrd na Gàidhlig to prepare a plan under the auspices of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. The Plan was created by the College’s Language Development Officer, Janni Diez, and other college staff who are expert in the field of language development and planning.
It builds on the College’s Language Policy and strengthens Gaelic usage among students and staff at the College. The Plan increases the already-strong status of Gaelic at the college, and will enable Sabhal Mòr to introduce projects and initiatives which will encourage even greater use of Gaelic in a variety of settings and situations.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig Ceannard (CEO), John Angus MacKay, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig congratulates Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the publication of its first Gaelic Language Plan. This is another significant milestone in our journey to achieving the aim of the Gaelic Language Act of seeing the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of the whole of Scotland, commanding equal respect to the English language.
The plan was submitted to Bòrd na Gàidhlig for approval last year following a public consultation where people could submit opinions on the plan. The plan will last five years before being reviewed.
A copy of the Gaelic Language Plan can be viewed at: website”
Following on from earlier news about the petty discrimination faced by some Scottish speakers this report is particularly welcome.
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