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11/10/13 17:00

Speech at Official Opening of the Royal National Mod

Minister for Learning, Sciences and Scotland’s Languages
Royal National Mod Official Opening
11 October 2013

Feasgar math dhuibh uile. Tha mi air mo dhòigh glan a bhith còmhla ruibh a-nochd.

Bu mhath leam an cothrom seo a ghabhail airson taing a thoirt do dh’Iain Macleòd agus Iain Moireasdan airson cuireadh a chur thugam a bhith an seo ann am Pàislig.

Gun teagamh ’s e Mòd gu h-àraid sònraichte a tha ann am bliadhna. Seo a’ chiad turas a tha am Mòd air tighinn gu Pàislig agus ’s e fior urram a th’ann dhomh fhèin sin a chomharrachadh.

Tha ùidh mhòr air a bhith agam riabh ann an cànain na h-Alba agus tha mi airson gum bi iad air an aithneachadh mar bhuannachd do dh’Alba air fad.

Gach bliadhna bidh an Comunn Gàidhealach a toirt misneachd do chloinn òg pàirt a gabhail ann an tachartasan agus spòrs ceangailte ri ar cànan agus tha mi gar moladh airson sin. Tha obair a’ Chomainn air a bhith soirbheachail airson clann òg a thàladh chun na Gàidhlig agus misneachd a thoirt do ghinealachan ùra tuilleadh ionnsachadh mu ar cànan agus dualchas. Tha sibh air leth cudromach anns na tha sibh a’ dèanamh a’ tarraing dhaoine de gach aois gu Gàidhlig ionnsachadh.

Ach aig an aon àm, tha mi mothachail nach tachair rudan mar seo leotha fhèin agus gu bheil feum ann airson obair chruaidh bhon h-uile duine a tha an-lùib chùisean.

Mar sin, tha mi toilichte à radh gun toir Riaghaltas na h-Alba £10k dhan Chomann airson taic a thoirt do neach-teagaisg ciùi l a chumas a’ dol leis an obair mhath seo.

Tha na miosan a chaidh seachad air a bhith uabhasach sònraichte airson saoghal na Gàidhlig.

Tha a’ Ghàidhlig a-nis ri fhaicinn air feadh na dùthcha, le barrachd chlann òg ag ionnsachadh ann an sgoiltean, gu soidhnichean dà-chànanach anns na stèiseanan rèile, gu FilmG agus tha gnìomhachas meadhanan soirbheachail againn ann an Alba. Airson òigridh na Gàidhlig, ’s e beatha eadar-dhealaichte a tha aca a-thaobh na Gàiodhlig. Dhà-riribh tha dùbhlain air thoiseach oirnn ach tha sinn a-nis air gluasad air adhart.

’S ann le Alba air fad a tha a’ Ghàidhlig. Tha I na pàirt luachmhòr agus seasmhach dhen dhualchas agus beatha cultural againn anns an latha an-diugh.

A-rèir rannsachadh a bha air fhoillseachadh le Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann am bliadhna, ’s e seo beachd a tha aig iomadh neach air feadh Alba, le 76 as a’ chiad den bheachd gu bheil Gàidhlig na pàirt cudromach de dhualchais na h-Alba.

Bha mi fior thoilichte, an dèidh bliadhnaichean a’ strì agus’deasbad, gun do dh’fhosgail Bùnsgoil Taobh na Pàirce a dorsan gu sgoilearan anns an Lùnastal. Bha mi fhèin an sàs as a phròiseas seo aig diofar ìrean agus gu fortanach bha e comasach dhomh maoin fhaighinn airson an sgoil a dhol air adhart.

Tron phròiseas bha an Riaghaltas agus a’ Chomhairle ag obair còmhla agus chur sinn maoin a bha fìor chudromach a dh’ionnsaigh na sgoile. Ach chan eil an seo ach aon eisimpleir de sgoil fa-leth air feadh Alba. Chan eil mi airson am pròiseas seo stad idir.

Aig fosgladh oifigeil na sgoile thuirt mi nach e an dùbhlan as motha a tha agam mar Mhinistear le dleastanas airson Gàidhlig ìmpidh a chur air pàrantan Foghlam Gàidhlig a thaghadh, ach a bhith a’ cumail suas leis an iarrtas a tha ann airson foghlam Gàidhlig – agus tha mi a’ cur fàilte air sin.

Air sgàth sin a bha mi air leth toilichte £4 millean a bharrachd airson an stòras calpa ainmeachadh airson cuideachadh a thoirt do dh’ùghdarrasan ionadail foghlam Gàidhlig fhàs.

A bharrachd air a seo tha mi airson ainmeachadh gum bith £91k a bharrachd de mhaoin ann airson pròiseactan Foghlam.

Bidh an t-airgead seo feumail airson ar sgoiltean ann an diofar dhòighean. Am measg nam buannachdan bidh cuideachadh airson barrachd thidsearan agus goireasan ùra.

’S ann le toileachas agus misneachd a leugh mi figearan bhon Chunntas-Sluaigh. Bha e gu sònraichte math faighinn a-mach gu bheil an àireamh de luchd-cleachdaidh na Gàidhlig fo aois 20 air àrdachadh, leis an àrdachadh am motha eadar aois 5-14.

Le 12 as a’chiad a bharrachd de sgoilearan tro fhoghlam Gàidhlig a-nis a’ tòiseachadh clas 1 am bliadhna, an an t-àrdachadh san àireamh fo aois 20 na dheagh chomharra air sàr adhartas - agus mar sin tha mi làn dòchais airson an àm ri teachd.

Tha tòrr fhathast ri dhèanamh airson stad a chur air a’ chrìonadh an àireamhan luchd-cleachdaidh na Gàidhlig. Tha na figearan an-diugh a’ sealltainn gu soilleir gu bheil an obair againn agus ar maoin a’ toirt piseach air cùisean agus gu bheil ar ro-innleachd a thaobh clann a bhogadh anns an dàrna cànan aig ìre thràth anns an sgoil, nan dòigh-beatha agus nan conaltradh cuideachd ag obair.

Tha dearbhadh againn gu bheil timcheall air 87,000 neach ann le tuigse a choireigin den Ghàidhlig – co-dhiù ga bruidhinn no ga sgriobhadh – agus tha sin na chomharra air an obair mhath agaibh uile a tha an seo a-nochd. Tha sibh air cothroman a chruthachadh airson daoine a bhith ag ionnsachadh mu dheidhinn ar cànan agus a bhith ga bruidhinn.

Leigibh leam a-nis coimhead air thoiseach oirnn airson greis. Tha 2014 gu bhith gu sònraichte cudromach airson Alba. An dàrna bliadhna de ‘A’ Tilleadh Dhachaigh’; bidh Cupa Ryder son golf a’ tighinn a dh’Alba agus mar a tha fios againn uile, bidh sinn a’ bhòtadh air co-dhiù a bu chòir do dh’Alba a bhith na dùthaich neo-èisimeileach.

Tha a’ Ghàidhlig deatamach a thaobh eachdraidh na h-Alba agus a cheart cho deatamach son Alba san àm ri teachd. Bidh a’ Ghàidhlig na dheas meadhan (aig cridhe?) deasbad air neo- èisimeileachd na h-Alba.

Mar a thuirt mi a-nochd mar thà, tha foghlam Gàidhlig na roinn fior shoibheachail de dh’fhoghlam na h-Alba. Bliadhna an deidh bliadhna tha roinn na h-Ealain soirbheachail air feadh na dùthcha agus tha BBC air roinn nam meadhanan atharrachadh gu bunaiteach ann an Alba.

Tha iad seo uile cudromach dhuinn fhad ‘s a tha sinn a’ gluasad air adhart.

Bliadhna eachdraidheil gun teagamh. Tha sgoil ùr fa leth a-nis stèidhichte ann an Dùn Èideann, £4 millean a bharrachd thairis air dà bhliadhna airson airson foghlam Gàidhlig fhàs air feadh na dùthcha - agus an comharra às soilleir fhathast gu bheil an ìre de chrionadh am measg àireamhan de luchd-cleachdaidh na Gàidhlig a’ socrachadh - agus gu bheil ginealach ùr a’ tòiseachadh ga bruidhinn.

Mar Mhinistear tha mi an sàs anns a h-uile taobh de dh’obair Gàidhlig; foghlam; croaladh; na h-Ealain agus tuilleadh cuideachd.

Tha sinn air mòran adhartais fhaicinn o chionn ghoirid ach tha coir againn a bhith mothachail gu bheil mòran fhathast ri dhèanamh.

Tha mi misneachail gu bheil na h-aon amasan againn uile agus gum bi sinn ag obair còmhla airson saoghal na Gàidhlig a bhrosnachadh agus a leasachadh anns na bliadhnaichean a tha roimhinn.

Mòran taing

Introduction and thanks

Good evening everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with you all tonight.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank John MacLeod and John Morrison for inviting me to Paisley.

Of course this is the first time the Mod has been held in Paisley and it is a honour for me to be here today to mark this occasion.

I have always taken a keen interest in Scotland’s indigenous languages and I am keen to see them recognised as a benefit for the whole of Scotland.

An Comunn’s continued success in encouraging children to take part in activities around our language must be commended. I see your activities as having a positive effect for encouraging all generations to consider learning aspects of our culture and, indeed, encouraging individuals of all ages to learn Gaelic. Your work has a pivotal role to play.

I am also fully aware that these things do not come about by chance but by the hard work, ambition and the tireless commitment of those involved.

For this reason, I am pleased to announce the Scottish Government will provide £10k to An Comunn to support the work of a music tuition coordinator who will help continue this good work.

We have witnessed months of significant milestones for the Gaelic language.

We now celebrate Gaelic everywhere, from increasing the learning of Gaelic in schools and signage in railway stations, to vibrant FilmG awards. We now have a thriving Gaelic media industry here in Scotland. For young Gaelic speakers, this is a different world. Gaelic still has its challenges, but we have moved on.

Gaelic belongs to the whole of Scotland. It is a valuable and enduring part our heritage and current cultural life.

Judging by the research published by Edinburgh University earlier in the year, this is a view shared by many across the country, with 76% of respondents of the opinion that Gaelic is an important part of Scottish heritage.

I’m absolutely delighted that after years of campaigning we now have our very own dedicated Gaelic School in the capital as Bunsgoil Taobh na Pàirce opened its doors to pupils in August. I was able to secure the necessary funding which allowed plans for the school to go ahead.

The Scottish Government worked with the Council throughout this process and provided significant capital support. Edinburgh is one of a number of new Gaelic schools recently either opened or being planned across Scotland, and I don’t want the process to stop here.

I said at the official opening of the school that my biggest headache as Minister with responsibility for Gaelic is not persuading parents to choose Gaelic medium for their children, but keeping up with the growing and very welcome demand that’s already out there.

That’s why I was pleased to announce an additional £4 million capital funding to be allocated to assist local authorities with the growth of Gaelic medium education.

In addition to this I would like to take this opportunity to announce a further £91k funding package for Education projects.

This funding will help build on the good work that is being done in our schools, to help recruit more teachers and provide resources that the sector needs to help meet increasing demand.

Even the latest Census figures are encouraging and I was pleased, like many I am sure, to see an increase in Gaelic speakers under the age of 20, with the biggest rise in the categories for 5-14.

With 12 per cent more pupils entering primary one of Gaelic Medium Schools this year, this consistent rise in numbers of those aged under 20 shows excellent progress and I am full of hope for the future.

There is still a lot of work to do to halt and reverse the decline in the overall numbers of Gaelic speakers, but this is a clear sign that our targeted investment is paying off and that our strategy of introducing children to the language as early as possible to make it an integral part of their life, their schooling and the way they communicate is also working.

The confirmation that there are around 87,000 people who say they have some understanding of Gaelic – whether it be spoken or written – is a testament to the work of you gathered here to create opportunities for people to experience and explore the language.

Let us now take a few moments to look ahead. 2014 is going to be a year of monumental importance for Scotland. It will be the Second Year of Homecoming; we will also see the Ryder Cup coming to Scotland; and of course, we will vote on whether Scotland should become an independent country.

Gaelic is both an intrinsic part of Scotland’s history, and an important part of Scotland’s future and will feature at the heart of the constitutional debate.

As we have touched upon briefly here tonight, Gaelic education is a significant successful sector in Scottish education. Gaelic arts continually ‘punches above its weight’ and BBC ALBA has transformed broadcasting in Scotland.

All of these will be considerable factors as Scotland moves forward.

This has been a landmark year for Gaelic. We have seen the official opening of Edinburgh’s first dedicated Gaelic school, an additional £4 million over two years to continue to expand Gaelic medium education to meet the increasing demand from parents across Scotland and the most promising signs yet that the decades-long decline in the number of Gaelic speakers has been slowed and that a new generation is embracing the language

My duties have given me much involvement with all the main areas of Gaelic activity; Gaelic education, Gaelic broadcasting, Gaelic arts and more.

We have seen good progress and successes in all these areas but the clear message is that there is still much to do.

I am confident that I share that ambition with you and look forward to more successes in the years to come.