John’s Speech on 10th Anniversary of Gaelic Language Act

Mòran taing, Presiding Officer. Tha mi ag iarraidh taing a thoirt dha Aonghas Dòmhnallach airson na h-obrach cudthromaich aige, gu h-àiraid air a’ ghluasad seo. Tha mi cuideach ag iarraidh taing a thoirt dha Bòrd na Gàidhlig, agus gach buidheann is neach a tha ag obair airson Gàidhlig a dhèanamh nas làidir. Tha fhios agam gu bheil iad uile ag obair gu cruaidh airson a’ chànain.

Chan eil mi fileanta sa Ghàidhlig, ach tha mi ag ionnsachadh barrachd gach latha. Tha mo nighean fileanta agus bidh an dithis dheugairean aice ga bruidhinn cuideachd. Tha ban-ogha agam na sgoilear aig Àrd-sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu agus bidh mac mo mhic ag ionnsachadh aig an sgoil-àraich ann an Dùn Èideann. Tha tòrr teaghlaichean mar seo anns an latha an-duigh is bu chòir dhuinn uile a bhith a’ faireachdainn dòchasach mun àm ri teachd.

Nuair a bha mi nam bhall-comhairle ann an Inbhir Nis, bha a’ bhun-sgoil Ghàidhlig anns an sgìre agam. Sin a’ chiad sgoil a bha air an togail gu sònraichte airson a bhith na sgoil Ghàidhlig. An-duigh, tha a’ bhun-sgoil gus a bhith làn—naidheachd glè mhath. A bharrachd air seo, tha mi glè thoilichte gu bheil Sabhal Mòr Ostaig cho soirbheachail. Tha e air tòrr oileanaich a tharraing bho iomadh duthaich dhan Eilean Sgitheanach, far a bheil an ath-bheothachadh seo air iomadh buannachd a thoirt dhan sgìre.

Mar a tha an gluasad ag ràdh, tha an sgeulachd de Gàidhlig air a bhith fìor shoirbheachail—cho soirbheachail gu bheil e a’ togail £150 millean not. Chaidh ceudan de bliadhnaichean seachad agus cha robh cothrom aig a’ chànan a bhith a’ fàs. Ach an-duigh tha an cultar againn beò is soirbheachail, tha an ceòl àlainn is tha na seinneadairean tàlantach againn ainmeil air feadh an t-saoghail.

Ged a bheil seo fìor, chan eil a h-uile rud math. Feumaidh sinn barrachd obair a dhèanamh air rudan mar na h-àireamhean de cuspairean a th’ ann an àrd-sgoiltean. Ach tha fios aig a’ mhinistear gu bheil trioblaid le sin ann an sgoiltean Beurla cuideachd. Feumaidh sinn obair ann an dòigh shùbailte—a’ cleachdadh teicneòlas agus ag obair ri chèile—airson dèanabh cinnteach gu bheil cothroman sgoinneil aig a’ chloinn againn. Ma tha sinn a’ coimhead air ais 10 bliadhna, tha e furasda fhaicinn gu bheil rudan nas fheàrr, ach tha tòrr ri dhèanamh fhathast a thaobh nan cothroman a th’ ann airson luchd-ionnsachaidh a tha air an sgoil fhàgail cuideachd.

Tha mi ag iarraidh rudeigin a chantainn mu dheidhinn cànan eile a-nis: Scots. Tha mi airson faicinn an uiread de adhartas is urram a tha an cànan Gàidhlig a’ faighinn airson a’ chànain Scots cuideachd. Tha e ceart gur e nàisean ùr, nuadh a th’ ann an Alba, ach bu chòir dhuinn urram a toirt do ar n-eachdraidh.

Tha mi glè thoilichte beagan Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn nar Pàrlamaid a-rithist. Feumaidh sinn cleachdadh na Gàidhlg—ciamar a chanas mi “normalise”?—anns a’ Phàrlamaid.

 

Following is the simultaneous interpretation:

 

I congratulate Angus MacDonald on his work and on the motion, which is very important. I also congratulate Bòrd na Gàidhlig and all the other Gaelic organisations and Gaelic workers on all their work. I know that they are all very busy working for the language.

I am not a native Gaelic speaker, but I am learning every day. My daughter is fluent, and my two teenage granddaughters are fluent, as well. I have a granddaughter at Glasgow high school and a grandson who goes to the Gaelic nursery in Edinburgh. Many more families are now like that. We must all feel positive about the years ahead.

When I was a councillor in Inverness, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis was in my ward; it was Scotland’s first purpose-built Gaelic school. It is bigger now and we need more places because our schools are very busy, which is good news. Likewise, I am pleased that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has many students from many countries and is an international success. SMO is on Skye, and the surrounding area of the south of Skye has flourished because of the Gaelic language.

As the motion says, Gaelic is an economic success—a near-£150 million success. For centuries our culture was not allowed to flourish, but now, because of our beautiful Gaelic music and our many great singers, Gaelic is known and loved in many countries.

Not everything is good. Some things, like the number of subjects that are taught at our Gaelic high schools, could be better. However, as the minister knows, that also applies to English language schools. We must use flexibility and technology to get the number of pupils who are needed for any class, whether in Gaelic or English, to be a success. Opportunities for adult learners could be better, too. However, if we look over the past 10 years there has been progress and much good work has been done.

I want to say something about another language: Scots. I want to see the respect that is now given to Gaelic being given to Scots, as well. Scotland is a modern nation that must respect its past and its history.

I am happy to be able to speak a little in Gaelic in our nation’s Parliament again. We must be able to normalise speaking the Gaelic language in the Parliament.