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Posted: 23-Jan-2005, 10:13 AM
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Wanderer and Vagabond

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I subscribe to a e-newsletter that occasionally sends me news about the Celtic languages. I plan to start posting some of the best ones I receive here in this thread! Please feel free to post your comments on the articles here!

Here is the first one. I just got it today.

The battle over? Give me a break
Scotland on Sunday. 23rd January, 2005.

There are two ways to view the news which emerged last week about the state of our language in the Western Isles. The smart way and the stupid way.

We could say that the investigation by the Western Isles Council means that
everything is over and that we should just forget about everything.

The response should be that it shows that there are problems which need to be addressed.

Things do not look very good at all.

Only a fifth of the children of the Western Isles use Gaelic to each other, even when they are fluent in the language. As Gaels, we are reluctant to speak the language inside the house to each other, again even though we all speak the language perfectly well, and even though everyone in the situation might be able to speak Gaelic.

We don't like speaking the language to the likes of doctors and ministers or other people in official positions, again even though we are all able to speak the language.

All this, despite, we are told the so-called "millions" which are being spent on the language.

And this in spite of all the progress which has happened to the situation of the language in many other areas. Between education, radio, television, and even publishing as shown by this newspaper. In many ways things are a lot better than they were.

But as Finlay MacLeod pointed out on Radio nan Gaidheal last Wednesday, the
situation is increasingly becoming like that of a table with a leg missing. The cause of the language has advanced in many areas of life in the schools, on the air, and in public life. But there has been a dramatic decline in the use of the language in the community.

But one thing is for sure. If the language had not made progress in those areas Gaelic would have become weaker in the communities and in families regarded. My view is that it would have happened much more quickly without the progress in other areas.

What is happening in the Islands is the same thing as happened throughout the mainland of Scotland through the last century. The language was just as strong in many parts of the mainland 100 years ago as it is today in some parts of the Western Isles. It became weaker across those mainland areas because of the lack of the things which we are seeing happening today.

What we are seeing is that the patient is receiving medicine without recovery coming quite as quickly as had been hoped and the patient still unwell. That does not mean that the patient should not receive some medicine or care.

And which of us did not spend years hearing exactly the same things?

"Gaelic is not a real language."

"That language is heathen/sinful/evil."

"It is so different from English that it will upset your mind."

"Gaelic is only of any use for picking potatoes."

"Gaelic signs will mean that people will die in accidents or that they will end up on the moon instead of in Gairloch."

Should we really expect things to change quite so quickly after so long?

Billions of pounds are spent on health each year and people are still unwell.

Scottish and UK governments spend 400 and millions upon millions of pounds
trying to wipe out the language from the face of this country. No-one would
expect the tide to change so quickly.

Gaelic is not strong enough in the home. The language is not spoken enough in the community.

The answer to that is to change things. To speak our language. To be more vociferous about the place of Gaelic. And not to give up in the battle.

Slàn agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba tìr mo chridhe. 'S i Gàidhlig cànan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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Posted: 24-Jan-2005, 05:15 PM
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Here are the headlines for today 1/24/05

2. Language activist Eoin McKiernan leaves $40,000 to Irish-medium education (Irish Gaelic)
3. A nationwide search for new talent (Scots)

Press and Journal. 09:00 - 10 January 2005

Westminster departments will comply with new rules on Gaelic - even although they will not have to, according to one MP.

MP Brian Wilson, who was the first minister for Gaelic before devolution, wrote to all Whitehall departments with a presence in Scotland asking them to support the provisions in the Gaelic Language Bill.

The bill includes the requirement for public bodies to draw up Gaelic language plans, even though, as devolved legislation, the bill will not require the UK departments to do so.

Mr Wilson said it would be anomalous if UK Government departments and public
agencies with a strong presence in Scotland, such as the Post Office and Inland Revenue, failed to act in the spirit of the legislation. He said that the departments could take relatively modest actions which would be of great potential value by raising the profile of the language.

The responses will be forwarded to Bord na Gaidhlig and other language bodies.

2. Language activist Eoin McKiernan leaves $40,000 to Irish-medium education
Belfast 1/13/2005 , by Eoghan ó Néill

In his 89 years on earth Eoin Mc Kiernan was a passionate and innovative advocate of all things Irish, particularly the Irish language. And now seven months after his death the renowned Irish American has given a boost to children in the hard pressed Irish-medium schools in the North of Ireland.

In his will he left a $40,000 gift to fund Irish-medium schooling in the North, a tremendous boost for the sector at a time when money is scarce.

Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, the Belfast based group responsible for financing Irish medium schools, will recieve the money and they are delighted with the news.

"It's wonderful news for the schools at a time when future state funding is uncertain' Pilib Ó Rúnaí from Iontaobhas told Eurolang. "$40,000 is a substantial amount of money and it will make a very real difference to schools and to pupils. And of course we're doubly delighted as the donation is a vote of confidence in the Iontaobhas and the work it does."

The gift comes with some conditions says Pilib. "Eoin Mc Kiernan was a true patriot and he was also a very intellectual man who understood the value of education in overcoming disadvantage for children. In that context there are some conditions regarding the way the money should be spent and the Iontaobhas will of course be adhering to those conditions."

The fund to administer the donation will honour Jeannette O'Callaghan McKiernan, Eoin's wife, another language enthusiast.

Informing the Iontaobhas of the gift the trustees of Eoin McKiernan's estate referred to his constant assertion that 'if a culture loses it's language it will also lose it's identity.'

'A practical man to the end Eoin McKiernan has done his bit to ensure that dosen't happen in the case of the Irish language' says Pilib.

Eoin McKiernan was born in Manhattan in 1915 of Irish parents. He spent his early years both there and in Ireland, travelling to Rosmuc in County Galway to learn Irish.

In the 1960s he became head of the English Department of the University of St Thomas, St Paul, Minnesota. In 1962 he founded the Irish American Cultural Institute, an organisation which is still going strong today.

During the 40 years which followed Eoin scripted and hosted 16 films and 53
programmes on Irish literature, language, folklore and culture for public
broadcast television.

He also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Irish studies in the US, created schemes to bring scores of thousands of young Irish Americans to Ireland for the first time, and brought hundreds of Irish writers, musicians and actors on tours of the US. Over these years Eoin secured a foothold for Irish studies in the once hostile world of American universities.

(Eurolang© 2005)

3. A nationwide search for new talent

A nationwide search for new talent celebrating the spirit and legacy of Robert Burns will be supported by funding of £100,000 from the Scottish Arts Council and EventScotland.

Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson today launched 'Burnsong' - a national project to encourage contemporary songwriting in Scotland.

Ms Ferguson said: "This week thousands of people throughout the world will celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns. His songs and poems, rich in their heartfelt humanity, strike a chord with us all.

"I'm delighted that the Scottish Arts Council and EventScotland are funding 'Burnsong', created to celebrate Burns, and to honour every kind of song.

"Children and adults will be invited to write songs in every conceivable style and, as with the songs of Burns, those that reflect people's lives, their relationships with others, surroundings and environment.

"Protecting Burn's legacy is crucial. Last week I met representatives from the National Trust for Scotland and tomorrow I'll be meeting leaders from South Ayrshire Council. I am confident these discussions about the Burns National Heritage Park will help ensure its long term viability."

'Burnsong' was created by Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association, an independent arts development agency serving the south-west of Scotland.

Burnsong' invites songs in any style or language: they can be new, or as new music composed for existing words, or old tunes found for newly written texts.

Songs need not be in Scots. There are two age categories, under 16 and 16+. Full submission details can be found at www.burnsong.com from January 25

This post has been edited by WizardofOwls on 03-Feb-2005, 11:26 AM
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Posted: 25-Jan-2005, 08:32 PM
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Hello all!

Here are the headlines for today's news items 1/25/05:

2 Schools link up for Welsh-medium teaching (Welsh)
3 Criticised council chooses Welsh-speaking schools chief (Welsh)
4 Radio Survey (Irish Gaelic)

This is Cornwall. 11:00 - 18 January 2005

The Government must honour its commitment to promoting the Cornish language,
according to members of a pressure group. Cornwall 2000, which campaigns on
a number of platforms relating to Cornish self-determination and distinctiveness, claims that little has been achieved in the two years since Kernewek was recognised as a minority European language.

Camborne's Centenary Chapel was packed last week for a meeting organised by
the group, at which officers of Cornwall 2000 addressed representatives from
the Gorsedd, Cornish Solidarity, the Cornish Stannary Parliament, local councillors and various Cornish language groups.

They were told that in the two years since the Government announced that it had extended the provisions of the Council of Europe Charter for Regional and Minority Languages to include Cornish, very little progress had been made. They said that although a strategy group had been formed in Cornwall, there had still been no policy put in place, no effective administration created, no core funding allocated and no timetabled and costed strategy written.

Those members of the strategy group who were present at the Camborne meeting
agreed that progress had been slow, but argued that this had been largely due to staff at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister "dragging their feet".

However, they also agreed that more needed to be done as a matter of urgency, and suggested that regular meetings would help to refocus the Government's attitude to the Cornish language.

The meeting unanimously passed the following resolution: "In order to create a sound, long term, financial and organisational basis for implementing the Council of Europe Charter for Regional and Minority Languages the Government should act quickly to establish a clear course of action and chain of responsibility. This could be done through existing administrative structures or by establishing a new non-departmental public authority tailor-made for that purpose."

They also decided to establish a "CharterWatch" group designed to monitor
implementation, lobby central government and report regularly to the Council of Europe.

Cornwall 2000 reminded those present that "the Government is obligated to take resolute action when implementing the charter". By June of 2005, it must also be able to demonstrate to a Council of Europe inspection team what progress has been made.

The organisation intends to send details of its intentions and the contents of the resolution to the Government. They will also be passed on to officials of the Government Office South West when they meet a delegationfrom Cornwall 2000 later this month.

2. Schools link up for Welsh-medium teaching
Huw Morgan in Abergele 1/20/2005

By using video links, schoolchildren in Wales will be able to receive their Welsh-medium education simultaneously. Giant plasma television screens have been installed in six Welsh-medium schools throughout Wales and pupils will be taught certain subjects by a single teacher. This £500,000 pilot project will expand the number of subjects available to be taught through the mediumof Welsh.

"The schools have been equipped with the most advanced video-conferencing
equipment in Wales," says project co-ordinator Dr David Charles, head teacher of Caereinion High School in mid Wales. "The idea is to share resources more efficiently and to broaden the curriculum for sixth form students [16 to 18 year olds]. We are linking with Ysgol Morgan Llwyd [in north-west Wales] to teach history and we are exploring ways of sharing expertise with Ysgol Glantaf [in the capital Cardiff] to deliver occupational 'A' level in leisure, recreation and business studies. It's early days, but video-conferencing will be in full swing by the start
of the next academic year. People can see the great potential of video-conferencing, which is definitely the way forward for Welsh medium and bilingual schools in rural areas."0

Amongst the subjects that will be available through the medium of Welsh are history, politics, statistics, law, sociology and Spanish.

"There is potential to develop other language courses as well by making contact with pupils in the relevant countries so that our pupils can practise their foreign languages," added Dr Charles.

Huw Alun Roberts, head of Ysgol Maes Garmon in north-east Wales, tells Eurolang that "it really does make the experience worthwhile for pupils. We are very pleased to be part of a scheme that is a cost effective way of delivering Welsh medium education".

This video-conferencing internet-based network is part of the £5.5m Welsh video network which is funded by the National Assembly of Wales and the European Commission. Universities, colleges and schools across Wales can share lectures and tutorials with each other and with their counterparts around the world. The network hopes eventually to be able to use NASA's educational facilities to study space. (Eurolang © 2005)

3. Criticised council chooses Welsh-speaking schools chief
Gareth Morgan, Western Mail. Jan 21 2005

AFTER weeks of rows about language requirements for a council's new director of education, it has decided to appoint a Welsh-speaker anyway.

Carmarthenshire County Council was heavily criticised for failing to keep Welsh as an "essential" requirement when it advertised the £100,000-a-year post. The Welsh Language Board even stepped in and one of the appointments committee stepped down in protest.

But it has been revealed that a Welsh-speaker, Vernon Morgan, is to take up the post of Director of Education and Children's Services when the post becomes vacant later this year.

He will join the authority from Merthyr Tydfil County Council where he is Director of Integrated Children's Services.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas, AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, welcomed the appointment of a bilingual candidate but criticised the council for continuing the appointment process after the WLB announced its intention to hold an investigation.

But council chiefs say they are delighted by the appointment. They say Mr Morgan was the best person for the job and they were highly impressed by his vision for Carmarthenshire.

His appointment was unanimously agreed after two days of assessments and

Councillors say the political row had no influence on their choice.

4. Radio Survey
Foras na Gaeilge. Thursday 20 January 2005


The Broadcasting Commission Ireland has today (January 20th) launched the
results of a national survey which investigated perceptions and attitudes towards Irish language radio programming in Ireland. The survey, which was co-sponsored by the Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Foras na Gaeilge was officially launched by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D. Seosamh Mac Donncha, Príomhfheidhmeannach Fhoras na Gaeilge also attended the launch.

Entitled "Turning on and Tuning in to Irish language radio in the 21st Century" and prepared by MORI Ireland on behalf of the BCI and Foras na Gaeilge, the survey found that listenership figures for Irish language radio are healthy with around a quarter of the population tuning into Irish language radio occasionally. The survey also shows that listeners to Irish language radio are not a homogenous group; 69% belong to the 35+ age category and 94% do not live in the Gaeltacht; and proposes that a 'one size fits' all approach will not be feasible in engaging and satisfying needs in Irish language radio provision.

The survey found strong support for bi-lingual programming among all respondents with 84% stating that they would listen to a music programme with English language music and Irish language links-this figure rises to 87% in the 15-34 year old category. A further 59% of the total stated that they would listen to a phone-in show broadcast partially in Irish.

The survey also undertook a deeper analysis of respondents who identified
themselves as never listening to Irish language radio programming. It found that there is no strict relationship between ability to speak Irish and listenership to Irish language programming; 22% of those who never listen regard their spoken Irish as 'good' or 'very good'.

In launching the research Minister O'Cuív said: "This survey gives us scientific information on the audiences for Irish and bilingual radio programmes. More importantly, it gives us an insight into the needs and requirements of people under 35 with regard to radio broadcasting through Irish. I am satisfied that this important piece of work, which has been produced by the BCI and MORI, will be extremely useful to me and also to those who will be making decisions on the provision of Irish services for young people."

Looking to the future a significant 78% of respondents felt that Irish language programming should be provided by all radio stations. This compares with 31% who felt that the future development of the Irish language should be the responsibility of dedicated Irish language radio stations. A further 75% of all respondents would like to see the establishment of a dedicated Irish language radio station just for young people. 89% of respondents also felt TG4 was a good model for the future development of Irish language radio programming.

Speaking at the launch, Michael O'Keeffe, Chief Executive of the BCI said: "the Commission is delighted with the findings of the survey. It legitimises the work we are currently doing in promoting the use of Irish on radio and in working with the broadcasters to look at new ways of providing Irish language programmes. I believe that the survey should also support and provide a focus for broadcasters through demonstrating that there is clearly an audience for different types of bi-lingual programming".

Seosamh Mac Donncha, Príomhfheidhmeannach Fhoras na Gaeilge, continued: "On
behalf of Foras na Gaeilge I welcome the results of this survey. The results clearly show, beyond any doubt, that there is a huge audience for both Irish language and bi-lingual programming. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the Advisory Committee for their work on this survey and for their continuing efforts to support the development of the Irish language in the independent broadcasting sector."


Media Queries to

Catherine Logan or Aoife Clabby
Flesihman Hillard Saunders BCI
01 6188462/086 8114785 01 6441200
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Posted: 26-Jan-2005, 08:36 PM
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Here are today's news items for 1/26/05

1. 'A triumph for free speech' as Irish language newspaper, Lá, avoids closure (Irish Gaelic)
2. Cornish magazine targets children (Cornish)

1. 'A triumph for free speech' as Irish language newspaper, Lá, avoids closure
Béal Feirste / Belfast 1/24/2005 , by Eoghan ó Néill

"The overwhelming support which Lá received from readers and supporters, from the Irish language community, and from minority language activists throughout Europe was the primary factor in overcoming this threat [of closure]. This is a victory for the Irish language and it's a triumph for free speech." That was how Ciarán Ó Pronntaigh, editor of the Irish language daily paper Lá described the news that Interreg funding for the paper, which has been delayed for half a year, has at last been given the green light.

The move lifts the threat of closure from Ireland's only Irish language daily. In June of 2004 Lá opened an office in the Donegal Gaeltacht as part of an agreed joint Interreg initiative. In the months that followed various Unionist MPs and Lords tabled a series of parliamentary questions and issued statements to the media condemning public funding for Lá and it's publishers, the Andersonstown News Group.

Lady Sylvia Hermon MP described as absolutley outrageous the fact that ANG had received £560,000 of public money and she alleged that ANG was 'an avowedly Republican newspaper group.'

Another Unionist parliamentarian, Lord Laird, stated in a newspaper interview that 'this funding is dangerous for the freedom of the press.' According to Lá these objections led to Interreg aid for the paper being subject to an external appraisal, an unprecedented move in the history of Interreg in Ireland.

In spite of that appraisal and an earlier one both being very positive the Interreg funding for Lá remained frozen until last week's announcement. That delay placed a massive financial burden on the newspaper and just before Christmas they were forced to lay off two full-time journalists and four correspondents and revert to a four rather than five day print run.

Closure threatened, but a vigorous campaign of support for the paper at home and abroad swung things firmly in it's favour and at the start of January it was confirmed that Interreg funding will be paid out shortly.

"This was the greatest threat to the paper in it's twenty years of existence," Ciarán Ó Pronntaigh told Eurolang. "The phenomonal support from the Irish language community and from language activists right throughout Europe was what ultimatley frustrated the Unionist campaign. Over 3,500 people signed our online petition, and there was constant pressure from the community in support of the paper. So it's down to these people that Lá will continue to come out and provide a much needed daily newspaper for the Irishlanguage community."

He also had a word of thanks for MEP Bairbre de Brún and Donegal Councillor Brian Ó Domhnaill who both campaigned to have the Interreg money paid as soon as possible.

Lá has already returned to publishing five days a week and according to Mr Ó
Pronntaigh they are looking forward not only to regaining their position of six months ago, but also to make major breakthroughs in the twelve months ahead.

Meanwhile, Lá has received a further thumbs up, this time in an independent report commissioned by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in the North.

The report, commissioned by the Department shortly before Lá relaunched as a
daily newspaper in 2003, recommended 'full support' for the paper. Drafted by respected consultants, Venture International, the report outlined the many benefits which a daily Irish language newspaper brings to the community and recommended a substantial increase in grant aid over and above the £157,000 which Lá receives at present from Foras na Gaeilge.
(Eurolang © 02005)

2. Cornish magazine targets children
BBC NEWS. Sunday, 23 January, 2005, 08:36 GMT

Children across Cornwall could soon be learning to speak Cornish at school.

The Cornish Language Fellowship is releasing a Cornish CD and magazine for nursery and primary school children later this year.

The fellowship say that it will help youngsters express their identity and understand Cornish place names.

Cornish campaigners won a victory last year when the government said pupils
could be registered as "Cornish" in a national educational survey.

The aim is to enable education officials to study the progress made in schools by children from different ethnic backgrounds.


The Education Committee today published its Stage 1 report on the general principles of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill seeks to establish Bòrd na Gàidhlig in statute with a responsibility to oversee the development of Gaelic and to secure its status as an official language of Scotland. The Bill proposes a legal framework for the development of a national Gaelic language plan and would ensure that public authorities develop Gaelic language plans. Bòrd na Gàidhlig would also be given a duty to provide guidance on Gaelic education under this legislation.

Robert Brown MSP, Convener of the Committee said:

?During the course of its evidence gathering, the Committee has been particularly struck by the fragile condition of the Gaelic language. We are in no doubt that vigorous action has to be taken to secure the future and vibrancy of the Gaelic language, and that the Bill provides the framework for this.

?The Committee believes that this Bill will contribute to securing the future of Gaelic but it will not be enough on its own. It has to be backed up by real commitment by the Scottish Executive to the language and the Gaelic community and, in particular, to Gaelic education. Not only must it be encouraged to become the language of the playground and the home in its strongest areas, but Gaelic speakers and those who wish to learn should be effectively supported in other parts of Scotland .

?The Committee took the view that Gaelic ? one of our most historic tongues ? was already an official language of Scotland, but that its status should be more satisfactorily reflected in the wording of the Bill.?


The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 25) was introduced in the Parliament on 27 September 2004 .

The Committee?s consideration was informed by 284 written responses to its call for evidence on the Bill. The Committee also took oral evidence from a range of witnesses at five meetings in November and December 2004.

The next stage in the parliamentary process is a debate in the Chamber on the general principles of the Bill which will take place on Wednesday 2 February 2005 .

Dara Aithisg 2005 Aithlisg Ìre 1 air Bile na Gàidhlig (Alba)
Stage 1 Report on the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill
For further information, the media contact is:

James Mackenzie: 0131 348 5605
RNID TypeTalk calls welcome

This post has been edited by WizardofOwls on 27-Jan-2005, 09:46 AM
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Posted: 27-Jan-2005, 02:19 PM
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Here are the headlines for today, 1/27/05:

1. Stage 1 Debate on Gaelic Language Bill (Scottish Gaelic)
2. Charter for regional or minority languages: can the EU constitution help France ratify ? (Breton)
3. MSPs press for Gaelic commitment (Scottish Gaelic)

1. Stage 1 Debate on Gaelic Language Bill

The Scottish Parliament's Stage 1 debate on the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill will take place on Wednesday 2 February. Chamber business will begin at 2pm and the Gaelic bill debate should begin at approximately 2.15pm.

Public tickets are available for this meeting free of charge from the Parliament's Visitor Centre at 0131 348 5200. As there will be a high level of demand for tickets, you should book as soon as possible if you wish to attend.

This debate will also be broadcast live on the internet at www.holyrood.tv or may be watched for up to two week afterwards as archive files.

le deagh dhùrachd,
Dr Alasdair MacCaluim
Oifigear Coimhearsnachd Gàidhlig
Pàrlamaid na h-Alba
Dùn Èideann
EH99 1SP
Fòn: 0131 348 5395
Facs: 0131 348 5601

2. Charter for regional or minority languages: can the EU constitution help France ratify ?

Douarnenez 1/26/2005 , by Yann Rivallain

Yesterday, the French parliament began to examine a revised constitutional law, in anticipation of the adoption of the new European constitution. Minority language organizations have seized this opportunity to put forward an amendment to the future law which would allow France to legally ratify the charter for minority languages.

As has been the case with the adoption of previous EU treaties and international agreements, such as the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), the French constitutional court had ruled that the proposed EU treaty was not compatible with the French Constitution.

Minority language organizations met earlier in January to discuss ways of adding a reference to minority languages to the French Constitution on this occasion. Previous attempts to modify Article 2, which states that the language of the Republic is French, had been blocked.

Under the auspices of EBLUL France, language organizations agreed to propose that the following straightforward sentence be added to Article 53 : "The French Republic can ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of the Council of Europe".

According to Tangi Louarn, the newly elected president of EBLUL France, "Since Article 53 refers to international agreements, it is logical to include the European Charter in this section. Another attempt to change Article 2 would have been less likely to be accepted since it would have had wider consequences". In July 1999, a similar sentence was added to Article 53 of the French constitution which allowed "the Republic to recognize jurisdiction by the International court of justice".

In Brittany, where the Regional Council recently officially recognized the Breton language through a development plan, a letter urging them to support the proposed amendment was sent to 35 members of the National assembly. It argues that "respect for linguistic and cultural diversity is one of the principles of this constitutional treaty" and that it is therefore necessary "to modify the French Constitution to allow ratification of the language Charter so that France can in effect respect the principles and practices regarding linguistic and cultural diversity which underpin the proposed European Constitution". If everything goes according to plan, this amendment should be brought to discussion during the day.

Speaking to Eurolang, Tangi Louarn felt that the outcome of this initiative was uncertain as the previous attempt, in 2002, had failed due to the opposition of most UMP (conservative) parliamentarians. However, this time, it looks as if the amendment will be supported by both socialists and conservative MP's in Brittany and other regions giving it a real chance to be accepted.

"We can however hope that the new articles in the European constitution referring to the respect of linguistic diversity and non-discrimination on language grounds will convince French parliamentarians that France can not carry on going against international provisions and disregard its own diversity", added Tangi Louarn. It is somehow ironic "to see that while Brittany had now officially recognized three languages on its territory, French, Breton and Gallo, France recognized only one language".

With growing concern about France's policy towards minorities among its European neighbours and at international level, if the outcome of today's discussion is once again negative, next time round, the proposed amendment may well read "the French Republic can "not anymore not ratify" the European Charter for regional and minority languages". (Eurolang © 2005)

(Article 3, Part I of the draft constitution states that the EU "shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.")

3. MSPs press for Gaelic commitment

BBC NEWS. Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:35 GMT

The Gaelic Bill will not be enough to save the language, according to a Holyrood committee.

In a report, the parliament's education committee called for "real commitment" from the Scottish Executive to Gaelic teaching.

But the committee backed the general principles of the bill, which gives the Gaelic tongue official status.

It also sets up a Gaelic development board although its members will not have to understand the language.

The aim of the body - Bord na Gaidhlig - is to oversee the development ofGaelic, to "secure its status as an official language of Scotland" and to give guidance on Gaelic education.

Some critics have argued it is a weakness that the bill does not require members of Bord na Gaidhlig to be able to understand Gaelic.

But the MSPs' report said: "The committee accepts it would be desirable for members of Bord na Gaidhlig to have knowledge of Gaelic.

"But it does not believe that this should be prescribed in statute as there may be benefit in ministers having the flexibility to appoint members with, for example, experience of the development of another minority language."

The report criticised the fact that the bill will not cover public bodies controlled by Westminster, such as pensions offices or the Food StandardsAgency.

Committee members stressed that the number of people able to speak, read or
write Gaelic had fallen to 65,674 by 2001 - a drop of 20% in 20 years.

Demand for 'commitment'

Its convener, Liberal Democrat Robert Robert Brown, said MSPs were struck by
the "fragile" condition of the Gaelic language.

"We are in no doubt that vigorous action has to be taken to secure the future and vibrancy of the Gaelic language, and that the bill provides the framework for this."

However, he warned: "This bill will contribute to securing the future of Gaelic but it will not be enough on its own.

"It has to be backed up by real commitment by the Scottish Executive to the
language and the Gaelic community and, in particular, to Gaelic education."
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Posted: 28-Jan-2005, 05:48 PM
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Here are the headlines for today, 1/28/05

1. Gaelic Community Learning and Development Conference (Scottish Gaelic)
2. Welsh to appear on all UK passports (Welsh)

1. Gaelic Community Learning and Development Conference

From Alasdair MacCaluim:

Community and Learning Development Group for Gaelic

Annual Conference
Friday 18 March

Ramada Jarvis Hotel, West Mill Street, Perth

"Gaelic and Community Learning"

CLDRG for Gaelic is an opportunity for professionals working in the field of Community Learning and Development to meet Gaelic speakers, adult learners and the representatives from voluntary organisations to discuss issues of common interest relating to Gaelic Education.

The overarching theme of this year's conference is "Gaelic and Community Learning" and there will be workshops on:

A) ICT in the context of Gaelic
cool.gif Music, Drama and Outward Bound
C) Supporting parents with children in Gaelic Medium Education
D) Learners' Forums

Conference participants will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops.


9.15 Registration and Coffee

9.50 Introduction and Welcome
? Provost Bog Scott, Perth and Kinross Council

10.00 Keynote Speech "Gaelic and Community Learning"
? Dr Alasdair MacCaluim, Gaelic Outreach Officer, Scottish Parliament

10.30 Workshops

E) ICT in the context of Gaelic
F) Music, Drama and Outward Bound
G) Supporting parents with children in Gaelic Medium Education
H) Learners' Forums

12 Noon Lunch and Market Place

1.00 Keynote Speech - "Role of Bòrd na Gàidhlig in Community Learning"
Peadar Morgan, Language Planning Manager, Bòrd na Gàidhlig

1.30 Workshops

3.00 Plenary
3.30 Close

The conference is free of charge.

If you would like to attend this year's conference, please contact:

John Sweeney,
North Lanarkshire Council
Department of Community Services
Buchanan Tower
Buchanan Business Park
G33 6HR

Tel: 0141 304 1929/35

Please let John know if you:
Have special dietary requirements
Need a creche (and if so, ages of children)
Wish space for a display

Applications should be received by Friday 4 March 2005

About CLDRG for Gaelic

The Community Learning and Development Review Group for Gaelic is an inter-authority group comprising representatives from Scotland's local Councils and organisations promoting Gaelic language and culture.

The group's remit is to develop encourage and support work in the field of Community and Development in relation to Gaelic learning.

The group organises training courses for tutors, promotes the language and culture through the annual Gaelic Learners' Awards and other events and provides a forum for learners, voluntary organisations and Community Learning and Development Staff at its annual conference.

2. Welsh to appear on all UK passports
Tomos Livingstone. Jan 26 2005

Welsh is to appear on all UK passports, Culture Minister Alun Pugh said today.

The move follows discussions between Assembly Ministers and the Home Office.

The Home Office had previously agreed to allow the language to be used on the first page of passports issued in Wales.

But now Welsh will take its place alongside other EU languages on all passports issued in the UK.

Mr Pugh said: "I announced back in September that Welsh would be included in passports for the first time from late 2005 onwards. Today I can confirm that we have made significant progress with Home Office colleagues for Welsh to appear in every passport issued - not just in Wales but in all UK Passports.

"We will have further discussions with Home Office colleagues on the format of the personal details page as part of a further review of the design of the UK passport which is likely to take place by 2008."


The Gaelic Media Service (GMS) has proposed that a plan by the Scottish Media Group (SMG) to establish an embryonic Gaelic television channel be put on hold pending resolution of the form and funding of a dedicated Gaelic television service. SMG had offered to transmit a weekly post-midnight two-hour block of Gaelic programmes that would initially be broadcast simultaneously on analogue and
digital platforms but would cease to be transmitted on analogue once a fully-fledged digital channel is in operation. SMG has also asked Ofcom to relieve them of their obligation to broadcast programmes funded by the Gaelic Media Service during peak viewing periods.

At a meeting of the Gaelic Media Service Board of Directors yesterday it was decided to reject SMG's proposal as it now stands. GMS chairman Neil Fraser said: "We appreciate SMG's support for the establishment of a Gaelic channel. Their proposal adds emphasis to the need for one, but we are not prepared to abandon our current policy not to fund programmes that are broadcast after midnight. To do so would not be in the interest of the Gaelic audience. Our research shows that their greatest frustration with the current system is the transmission of Gaelic programmes at inconvenient viewing times. We would not wish to aggravate that situation further at a time when digital technology presents new opportunities for a more appropriate Gaelic television service than has been available previously."

Mr Fraser conceded that commercial pressures in a multi-channel environment make it more difficult for SMG to maintain the Gaelic presence to which they had committed when they submitted their licence application more than a decade ago. "The prime objective of the Gaelic Media Service is the early establishment of a Gaelic television channel with daily programming," he said. "Until we have
greater assurance of the funding, structure and stakeholder commitment that will make such a channel sustainable we are not in a position to pre-empt the ultimate solution that we are seeking, namely an adequately resourced service that will bring a new and welcome dimension to Gaelic broadcasting. There are a number of technical and operational options available that are currently under consideration."

The Gaelic Media Service welcomed the recommendation by the Scottish Parliament's Education Committee this week that "the Scottish Executive clarifies its role with respect to Gaelic broadcasting, the ole that Bord na Gaidhlig will play in advising Ministers with regard to Gaelic broadcasting and what efforts it is making to explore the opportunities for additional funding for Gaelic broadcasting."

For further information:
John Alick Macpherson
Depute Director
Gaelic Media Service
Tel - 01851 705550
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Posted: 29-Jan-2005, 08:11 PM
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Only one news item today, 1/29/05

By the way, I haven't heard any feedback on this column. Is anyone reading it? Please let me know if you enjoy it.



In 2005 the competition for a poem in Irish, which has been a feature of
this festival since it began six years ago, will be greatly expanded. For the first time ever, thanks to sponsorship from Iomairt Cholm Cille, The
Columba Initiative, the prizes will equal those offered for the international competition for a poem in English. In addition, the
competition is being widened to welcome poems in Manx and Scottish
Gaelic. Rody Gorman, who has published poetry collections in Irish, Scottish Gaelic and English, and who is editor of the trilingual poetry periodical An Guth, will be the judge. There will be a second prize of 2000 Euro and a third of 1000 Euro. A shortlist of six will be announced, and each shortlisted poet will receive at least 450 Euro when they read at the festival (April 29 - May 2) when the winners will be announced. The final date for entries is 16 February 2005. With an entry fee of just 5 Euro per poem, it is well worthwhile for any poet, or aspiring poet, to enter a good few poems. It's time to forget the ?poor mouth¹ of Gaelic poetry, and for hundreds of poems to be sent to Strokestown! Entry forms from Strokestown International Poetry Festival, Bawn Street, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, Ireland or download from
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Here is today's news for 1/30/05

A letter in the day's Scotland on Sunday.... (Scottish Gaelic)

Survival of the Gaelic language
Scotland on Sunday. 30th January, 2005.

MURCHADH MacLeòid's column 'Am Blàr Seachad? Istibh' (January 23),
translated into English online at www.scotlandonsunday.com appears to
fall into three dimensions, that of the Western Isles, Scotland as a whole
and Europe.

The lack of confidence in parts of the Western Isles as to Scottish (Gaelic) has been a creeping sore felt all over Scotland for centuries in the face of the advancing English language. I recognised it in Perthshire in my youth.

Till the time of William Dunbar, the name given to our most distinctive
native language was 'Scottish'. The inference in the use of Scottish Gaelic was that it was not our language. After all, no one calls Polish Polish Slavonic or Portuguese Portuguese Iberian.

Most countries in Europe have their own languages, be it Danish, Hungarian, Finnish, German, Polish, etc. So the use of 'Scottish' is justified as it was in the days before Dunbar.

The English language itself faced destruction under the threat of French
following the conquest in 1066. For example, a decree at Oxford ordered in 1325 "all conversations be in Latin or French".

Despite everything, English was to triumph, thanks to the efforts of two
Cornishmen, one of them John Trevisa, from St Mellion, who died in
1402. Writing about the growing change from French to English, Trevisa said: "...John of Cornwall, a grammar master, changed the instruction and construing in the grammar schools from French into English; and
Richard Pencrych learned that kind of teaching from him... so that now, in the year of Our Lord, 1385... in all grammar schools of England, children are now dropping French and construing and learning in English."

The last ferocious attack on the Gaelic language was in the application of
the 1872 Education Act, which was intolerant of all but English. But today
events have turned the full circle... we have our own Parliament again and a Gaelic Language Bill is making its way through it.

If we have the slightest pride in our own county we will do our best to make sure that Comhairle nan Sgoiltean Araich and their pre-school
playgroups in the language become universal. Thereafter, we must ensure that all teaching is conducted through our own Scottish (Gaelic) language, including using Scottish to teach other languages like English or Scots or French or German, etc. Such an attitude is not strange in most European countries. There, teaching is conducted in the native language, not in that of a neighbour.

Archy Macpherson, Edinburgh
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Posted: 31-Jan-2005, 08:28 PM
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Here are the headlines for today, 1/31/05

1. Gaelic learners initiative could set pace for rest of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic)

1. Gaelic learners initiative could set pace for rest of Scotland


West Highland Free Press
No 1709
Friday 28 January 2005

An initiative started last year by Portree High School to encourage young Gaelic learners to continue their education in the language has proved such a success that it has just been repeated this year.

Bord na Gaidhlig are delighted by the project and hope that it can be rolled out to other schools who offer Gaelic as a subject.

Last year Portree High School head of Gaelic AJ Macdonald and two of his assistants, Emma Christie and Ruairidh Macvicar, took three groups of second-year Gaelic learners, about 60 pupils in all, to the south end of Skye and Sabhal Mor Ostaig for a weekend activity course. On one of the weekends they were joined by pupils from Inverness Royal Academy.

The initiative aims to tell pupils a little of the history of the area and to strengthen their interest in Gaelic by showing them that a structure exists which allows pupils to achieve fluency in the language. Fun is also very much on the agenda.

Last Friday the first group of this year's second-year pupils spent Friday afternoon in Strath, Elgol and Glas na Cille, completing a worksheet at Cill Chriosd and listening to local stories and traditions along the way. Following dinner and a short presentation at Sabhal Mor they were joined by some college students and the evening was given to indoor games, quizzes and even some Scottish country dancing.

The next day involved a walk to the Point of Sleat and a return journey via Tarskavaig and Dun Sgathach where they heard of Cu Chulainn's skills in single combat and his skills with a shinty ball as a young lad!

Funding for this initiative is provided by Bord na Gaidhlig and all pupils who participate receive a certificate. Bord na Gaidhlig viewed last year as a pilot and hope more schools will join in this year.

The youngsters certainly seemed to enjoy themselves. Anna Barton said: "The trip away is a really good idea. I think there should be more opportunities for people to learn and use Gaelic. This trip has shown us how useful Gaelic can be."

Fellow pupil Adam Nicolson agreed. He said: "It would be great if we could do a trip like this every year!"

AJ praised the co-operation of other departments in the school. He said: "This proved extremely popular last year ? all the pupils who took part wanted to repeat the experience.

"The uptake this year is again very encouraging. A great number of our ex-pupils who came to the language as learners are today employed in Gaelic-related posts and making a very important contribution to the preservation and development of the language.

"We want our present learners to know that they have a valued and important part to play in the future. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Gaelic is in their hands."

Bord na Gaidhlig are delighted with the project and bord chief executive Allan Campbell said: "This was a perfect mix of a good idea, developed by teachers, with funding support for its implementation from Bord na Gaidhlig. The bord is extremely encouraged by the successes of this initiative in its first year, and we warmly congratulate Angus John on his achievement. We very much hope that other schools from across cotland can now be encouraged to follow this excellent example."

Copyright 2004 West Highland Publishing Company Limited. All rights reserved.



this is North Scotland
in association with The Press and Journal

09:00 - 31 January 2005

Highland politicians have urged the executive to use an untapped source of Gaelic-speaking teachers to tackle the shortage which is threatening the revival of the language.

Highland MSP Rob Gibson said the executive has failed to convince 156 Gaelic-speaking teachers, currently teaching in English-medium primary and secondary schools, to transfer to Gaelic-medium teaching.

He said: "Figures from the executive show that there are 233 primary teachers who could teach in Gaelic medium, but only 152 do so at present."

And of the secondary sector, he said: "Only a few subjects are covered in just two or three schools, but there are 101 teachers who could teach through Gaelic and only 26 do so."

Mr Gibson, a former teacher himself and an SNP MSP, added: "There is a significant pool of untapped talent here but it is obvious that teachers are not convinced about the executive's commitment to Gaelic.

"Before they transfer they want to know that this will be a job with long-term prospects and a clear career progression. We would not be facing the crisis in teacher numbers if the executive could persuade these teachers that they are 100% behind Gaelic.

"The executive should be out there persuading these teachers to transfer and offering incentives if necessary to show that they really mean it, and the education minister should show his commitment by getting this moving as quickly as possible."

Highland Council has started a distance-learning postgraduate teacher training scheme with Aberdeen University. Council vice-convener, Michael Foxley, said there were a number of actions the executive could do to convince teachers to transfer.

He said: "Most of these teachers will be native speakers, and would be ideal for teaching through the medium of Gaelic but, perversely, they seem to be the most conscious, wrongly I believe, that their Gaelic is not good enough."
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There was only one news item today, 02/02/05


The Scotsman
Tue 1 Feb 2005

Scotland's Homer comes back into literary fold


IT WAS one of the world's greatest literary forgeries. The creation of "Scotland's Homer" by schoolmaster James Macpherson helped inspire a new romantic movement throughout the western world.

And so when the epic Gaelic poetry of the "blind bard" Ossian - which won dedicated fans including Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson - was exposed as a fake, there was a backlash led by the English intellectual giant Samuel Johnson.

But a new work cataloguing Scottish writing is to restore Macpherson's reputation, saying while he did invent a single voice for the tales of heroism and doomed love, they were largely based on stories handed down through the generations.

The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature - which will have taken five years to complete when it is published next year - will include discussions of almost every kind of Scottish writing of any significance.

The rehabilitation of Macpherson is part of a deliberate effort to give Gaelic its deserved place alongside writing in English and Scots in the pantheon of Scottish literature.

Susan Manning, professor of English literature at Edinburgh University, the editor of the 1700 to 1918 section of the multi-volume book, said the ferocious debate that ensued over the authenticity of the poems - Macpherson even challenged his arch-critic Johnson to a duel which never took place - was born largely out of cultural misunderstanding.

"In a sense what he did was somewhere between an act of recreation and creation," she said.

"The original Gaelic epics were not written down, so he was remembering things [from his childhood in Aberdeenshire], writing down things he heard on his travels and combining them with scraps of previously written-down Gaelic."

Amid massive interest, establishment literary figures began to ask
Macpherson for copies of the original Gaelic manuscripts. When he was unable to produce them, some began to view him as a fraud.

"They said, `If these are genuine, show us the originals'. He couldn't really show the originals because they belonged to an oral tradition," Prof Manning said.

"That's why it's not as simple as a fraud versus a genuine translation. A lot of Highland readers said, `Yes, this is a translation, we remember these stories'. They would attest to its authenticity whereas the sceptics - often English or Anglo-Scots - would say translations require original manuscripts.

"It was a clash of culture between an oral and a written tradition."

The first translations by Macpherson were not presented as opening parts of a great epic by Ossian.

However Prof Manning said: "This notion gradually grew. If there was a great epic, there had to be a great epic poet and that would be Scotland's Homer.

"As Macpherson got backed into a corner, he started to produce more and more elaborate defences of it."

Ironically, Prof Manning said modern scholars view Homer, once thought to be a single genius, in a similar light to Macpherson's creation.

"Now we know not to think of Homer as the inspired bard. Homer was a committee just as much as Ossian was a committee," she said.

"The idea of Homer as a single `blind poet' is, I think, now fairly widely discredited - in the same way we shouldn't see Ossian as a single `blind bard'."

Artist Calum Colvin, who is professor of art photography at Dundee University, is among those to have renewed interest in Ossian.

He will take an exhibition of his work called "Ossian - Fragments Of Ancient Poetry" to Paris in November this year, partly because Napoleon was such an admirer of the work.

"I think Macpherson probably was quite a difficult person. He was a proud Highlander and he didn't take the jibes of Johnson very well," he said.

"But he was also the classic Scotsman on the make and he ended up a very wealthy man."

Belated recognition

THE forthcoming Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature will include a major section on Gaelic poets and writers who have long been ignored or downplayed by the literary establishment.

? Muireadhach Albannach O Dálaigh (fl. 1200-1224): One of the
greatest poets of the medieval classical poetic tradition and progenitor of the MacMhuirichs, the most important Scottish Gaelic learned family of the middle ages.

? Donnchadh Caimbeul (Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy) (c. 1443-1513): The Lord of Glenorchy, who died at Flodden, covered a wide range, from love poetry to the bawdy and scatological.

? Sìleas na Ceapaich (c. 1660-1729): Born a MacDonald, she married into an eastern Highland family and wrote one of the most famous laments in Gaelic tradition, for Alasdair Dubh of Glengarry. Her range included vicious political verse connected with the 1715 rising.

? Alexander MacDonald (Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair) (c. 1695-1770): The Gaelic genius of the 18th century, he was closely involved in all the major changes of the period (his 1751 poetry collection was the first non-religious book published in Scottish Gaelic).

©2005 Scotsman.com
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Posted: 03-Feb-2005, 11:19 AM
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Here is the news for today 2/03/05

1. Watchdog to investigate 'only 7% Welsh language' radio station (Welsh)
2. Parliament agrees unanimously with general principles of Gaelic Language Bill (Scottish Gaelic)

1. Watchdog to investigate 'only 7% Welsh language' radio station (Welsh)
Martin Shipton, Western Mail. Feb 1 2005

THE row over Welsh language radio in West Wales has taken a new twist, with Radio Carmarthenshire to face a new inquiry over its use of Welsh.

An investigation by S4C current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar has
revealed only 7% of Radio Carmarthenshire's output is in Welsh, highlighting serious doubt over their commitment to the language. Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has announced it will investigate the programme findings.

Following protests about the lack of Welsh content on Radio Carmarthenshire, Ofcom issued a yellow card warning to the station last October. The warning was lifted in December, when Ofcom found several changes had been made by the radio station. Now following the new S4C research, Welsh language campaigners have criticised Ofcom's readiness to give the station a clean bill of health.

Cefin Campbell, director of Mentrau Iaith Myrddin, said, "Questions need to be asked about the powers allocated to this new regulator, Ofcom. Should there be new guidelines issued to make radio stations reflect more accurately the linguistic and cultural character of the area represented? I think there are serious weaknesses in the present regulations, which allow Radio Carmarthenshire to ignore the wishes of local people."

Ofcom's director in Wales is Rhodri Williams, the previous chairman of the Welsh Language Board. He refused to be interviewed for tonight's programme, but said that since the yellow card was raised Ofcom hadn't received one complaint from listeners. He added that Ofcom didn't have the powers to impose quotas on radio stations, forcing them to broadcast a specific number of hours in Welsh.

When Radio Carmarthenshire made their initial application for a licence they had indicated that 30% of their output would be in Welsh. Three weeks ago Y Byd ar Bedwar monitored the station for 24 hours and found that 93% of the speech content was in English, with only 7% in Welsh. Cefin Campbell said the results were disastrous.

Keri Jones, chief executive of Radio Carmarthenshire, claimed 99% of people in the area are big fans of the station. Y Byd ar Bedwar goes out tonight at 8.25pm, on S4C.

2. Parliament agrees unanimously with general principles of Gaelic Language Bill (Scottish Gaelic)

The Stage 1 Debate on the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill was held yesterday
afternoon. The Parliament agreed unanimously with the general principles of the Bill.

The whole debate may be read at:

Or watched online at:

The Bill will now return to the Education Committee for Stage 2, where it will be considered in detail by the committee, line by line, and where amendments will be considered.

Decision Time


The Presiding Officer (Mr George Reid): There are seven questions to be put as a result of today's business. The first question is, that motion S2M-1812, in the name of Peter Peacock, on the general principles of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) bill, be agreed to.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Gaelic Language
(Scotland) Bill.

The Presiding Officer: The second question is, that motion S2M-1819, in the name of Andy Kerr, on the financial resolution in respect of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill, be agreed to.

Motion agreed to.

That the Parliament, for the purposes of any Act of the Scottish Parliament resulting from the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill, agrees to any expenditure or increase in expenditure of a kind referred to in Rule 9.12.3(cool.gif(ii) or (iii) of the Parliament's Standing Orders arising in consequence of the Act.

This post has been edited by WizardofOwls on 03-Feb-2005, 01:44 PM
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Here are the combined headlines for Feb 5 & 6, 2005:

1. An everyday tale of TV cynics (Scottish Gaelic)
2. New Language Points To Foundations Of Human Grammar (General Language)
3. Scots' legitimacy as national tongue (Broad Scots)
4. Gaelic legend who lives amongst us (Scottish Gaelic)

1. An everyday tale of TV cynics (Scottish Gaelic)
West Highland Free Press. 4th February, 2005.

BRIAN WILSON looks at the sordid and devious background to the current attempt by Scotland's commercial television stations to abandon their statutory obligations to Gaelic

I was at a dinner in London's Natural History Museum recently which involved a number of people who had prospered on the business side of the television industry. "You'll know Gus Macdonald," one of them said to me. I affirmed.

His next line hit me, in that un­likely ­setting, with the force of the unexpected. "The way STV used Gaelic to get their franchise for nothing hasbecome a real legend in the ­industry," my new friend chuckled admiringly. He then regaled me with the full, audacious story of these heady days in the early '90s, when vastly valuable ITV franchises were subjected to a blind auction.

I found it a slightly eerie conversation. For what was being played back to me squared precisely with the story as I told it at the time and have always believed to be the truth. As the years rolled by, however, it became an increasingly difficult plot to convince anyone of. How on earth could something as marginal as Gaelic have been worth tens of millions of pounds to STV, in the sophisticated world of commercial television?

But it was, as my partner in this recent conversation cheerfully confirmed. To him, the story was ­merely an entertaining fragment of commercial television folklore. To me, it is still a piece of unfinished business. For the whole development of Gaelic television, with all its implications for the language, has been crucially undermined by that ruthless piece of commercial opportunism which the Lairds of Cowcaddens alighted upon in the early 1990s.

Their opportunity arose from a coincidence of timing. The Gaelic Television Fund was created at exactly the same time as the dotty Thatcherite idea of auctioning ITV licences was announced. Those of us who had lobbied for a Gaelic ­television service had expected the money to create a miniature version of what existed in Wales - a co­herent daily block of programmes within a single channel, probably BBC2, with the potential for a service to grow and develop.

Something entirely different - and grossly inferior - emerged. The new Gaelic Television Committee would fund programmes but the scheduling of them, if at all, would be a matter for the television com­panies. There would be no Gaelic channel, mini or otherwise, or ­programme planning. Gaelic programmes would be scattered around the schedules of both BBC and the ITV companies in Scotland.

The drive for this approach came from STV who, at that point in its then
30-year history, had never devoted a single minute of air time to Gaelic
programmes. Suddenly, it was as if they were the sole pro­prietors of Gaelic. Not only did they demand the right to broadcast Gaelic programmes but nothing less than peak-hour prominence would suffice. There would be drama, news, children's programmes, religion, the lot.

STV recruited bright young Gaels by the handful. They appointed a Gaelic Advisory Board under the chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Alexander. For a period of about two years, nothing in the Gaelic world could move without the imprimatur and financial sponsorship of STV. In what I always thought was the most cynical detail of all, they produced the company's annual report bi­lingually - for one year only, of course.

An essential part of this strategy was to bully and bludgeon with highflown rhetoric anyone who dared suggest that the whole thing was a con. And it was really only the West Highland Free Press that had the bottle to persist with that opinion. There was some sceptical comment elsewhere about STV being after the £9.5 million in the newly-created Gaelic Television Fund. But that was small beer and far from being the primary objective.

What they really set out to do - and, even more astonishingly, succeeded in doing - was to create from a standing start the myth that no rival could compete for the Central Scotland ITV franchise without a commitment to Gaelic which was commensurate with the one that they had just invented for themselves. They announced themselves willing to broadcast 200 hours of Gaelic per year including two midweek, peak-hour slots immediately following Coronation Street.

The implications of these commitments for advertising revenues - never mind the bemused viewers in Barrhead and Bargeddie - were enormous. But whenever doubts were expressed about the actual impact of peak-hour Gaelic programming on audience figures, the louder grew the bombast from Cowcaddens denouncing faint hearts and insisting that only through peak-hour exposure on ITV could the newly-created Gaelic Television Fund deliver on its objectives.

What happened next explains why STV's Gaelic strategy has taken its place in ITV's Hall of Fame and Greed. Several potential bidders for the
Central Scotland franchise took a close look at "the Gaelic commitment" and backed off. There were doubtless other factors but this was the big one. Once confident that there were no other contenders in the field, STV bid £2,000 per year for a franchise which, in a competitive en­vironment, might have fetched £20 million.

The rest, as they say, is history. STV's Gaelic Advisory Board soon disappeared. The annual report never contained another word of Gaelic. The kids who had been hired on short-term contracts were disposed of. One of the peak-hour slots dis­appeared before the ink on the franchise was dry and STV have been trying to get rid of the other one ever since.

Most of the programming was transferred to the middle of the night. The
second peak-hour slot was replaced by a still half-decent one on Sunday
evenings. Almost all of what is transmitted in Gaelic by STV is the cheapest possible television. There are now no slots available for children's programmes and they are trying to get rid of the commitment to broadcast eight Gaelic services a year. Along the way, STV took over Grampian - another pretty sordid story - so much the same now applies there too.

When they used Gaelic to get their franchise for nothing, STV claimed that they would broadcast five hours of Gaelic a week; that some of it would be in peak-viewing time; and that "it would be unfortunate if a television ghetto emerged". Last week, STV/Grampian proposed just such a ghetto - a single "block" of Gaelic programmes, getting rid of the Sunday evenings slot so that their entire obligation would consist of a couple of hours around midnight on Tuesdays, until they could get rid of that too.

They must not be allowed to get away with this. The previous regulator, the IBA, allowed STV to get away with murder - first in ­creating its Gaelic
myth and then in dis­mantling most of the commitments that it had given. The IBA is no more and its former Scottish represen­tative, Brian
Marjoribanks, is now an STV director. The new regulator is Ofcom and its first test in relation to Gaelic lies in whether it will hold STV to those vestiges of its Gaelic commitment which still exist.

Gaelic television's real need is for a dedicated channel which can grow and expand. The digital age has made that possible if the funding obstacles can be overcome, as I think they soon will be. Without the massive deceptions practised by STV and, to a ­lesser extent, Grampian in the early 1990s, Gaelic television would have developed very differently and, I am pretty sure, the Gaelic channel would by now exist. But as long as it ­doesn't exist, there must be no further contraction in the pittance that is available.

Gaelic has been worth many tens of millions of pounds to the shareholders - not to mention share-option holders - in the Scottish Media Group. Every time they try to walk away from it, they - and Ofcom - need to be reminded of how we got here in the first place.

2. New Language Points To Foundations Of Human Grammar (General Language)

By Inga Kiderra


University of California San Diego
News Release

January 31, 2005

How is a language born? What are its essential elements? Linguists are gaining new insights into these age-old conundrums from a language created in a small village in Israel's Negev Desert.

The Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL), which serves as an alternative language of a community of about 3,500 deaf and hearing people, has developed a distinct grammatical structure early in its evolution, researchers report, and the structure favors a particular word order: verbs after objects.

The study ? the first linguistic analysis of a language arising naturally with no outside influence ? is being published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Jan. 31 to Feb. 4.

The authors are Mark Aronoff from Stony Brook University, Irit Meir and Wendy Sandler from the University of Haifa and Carol Padden from the University of California, San Diego.

By watching native signers tell stories and describe actions, the researchers found that the language goes beyond a list of words for actions, objects, people, characteristics and so on, to establish systematic relations among those elements. Sentences in ABSL follow a Subject-Object-Verb order, such as in "woman apple give," rather than the Subject-Verb-Object order found in English ? or, more significantly, in other languages in the region.

"The grammatical structure of the Bedouin sign language shows no influence from either the dialect of Arabic spoken by hearing members of the community or the predominant sign language in the surrounding area, Israeli Sign Language," said study coauthor Carol Padden, professor of communication at UC San Diego. "Because ABSL developed independently, it may reflect fundamental properties of language in general and provide insight into basic questions about the way in which human language develops from the very beginning."

ABSL arose in the last 70 years and is now in its third generation of use. Remarkably, the fixed word order of ABSL emerged within a generation after the inception of the language.

"Our findings support the idea that word order is one of the first features of a language, and that it appears very early," Padden said.

The research also supports the notion that languages can and do
evolve quickly.

"When we first came to Al-Sayyid, I expected to see a lot of gesture and miming, but I was impressed immediately by how sophisticated the language was. This is not an ad hoc, spur of the moment communication. It is a complex language capable of relating information beyond the here and now," said Padden.

Although other new languages such as creoles and Nicaraguan Sign Language have been reported, their unusual social and linguistic environments were not characteristic of typical languages, the study authors observe. Creoles are the product of interactions between existing languages. And Nicaraguan Sign Language, the creation of a group of deaf children, evolved in a school setting.

What distinguishes ABSL is that it grew ? as presumably did most languages of the world ? within a socially stable, existing community.

The Al-Sayyid village was founded about 200 years ago and today numbers some 3,500 members. Approximately 150 individuals with
congenital deafness, all of them descendants of two of the founders'
sons, have been born into the community in the past three generations.

A pattern of marrying within the village is the norm. Combined with deafness that is recessive ? recessive traits manifest only when two
carriers have a child ? the marriage practice has ensured that deaf people are well distributed throughout the group's population.

As a consequence, the researchers say, many of the signers in the community are hearing, a highly unusual situation for a sign language but one that can be predicted in a tightly-knit group which fully integrates its deaf members.

"It is a language of the entire community, both hearing and deaf," said Padden, who, with Tom Humphries, is co-author of the newly published Inside Deaf Culture (Harvard University Press, 2005). "ABSL is transmitted within families across generations, and children learn it without explicit instruction. It is the best analogue we have for studying how any new language is born and grows."

The Al-Sayyid group, the researchers point out, in some ways resembles the 19th-century whaling community in Massachusetts that produced the now-extinct Martha's Vineyard Sign Language. But that language died out before it could be recorded.

For the present study, the researchers focused on the second generation of ABSL signers. Further work will document the evolution of the language in the third generation.

The research is being conducted through the Center for Research in Language at UCSD and the Sign Language Research Lab at the University of Haifa. It is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Media Contact: Inga Kiderra, (858) 822-0661

Copyright ©2001 Regents of the University of California. All rights

3. Scots' legitimacy as national tongue (Broad Scots)
Scotland on Sunday. 6th February, 2005.

A letter in Scotland on Sunday the day:

YOUR correspondent Archy Macpherson ('Survival of the Gaelic language', Letters, January 30) makes no mention of Scots. If any language deserves to be recognised as 'Scottish', on the analogy of Polish, Danish, etc, it is Scots.

Although it is derived from the Northumbrian dialect of Old English, it has
for centuries been the vernacular speech of southern Scotland, the central lowlands, the north-east lowlands and Caithness. It has its own regional variations and its own established literature.

Furthermore, it is the only speech that can claim to have been the official
language of the pre-Union Scottish state.

While the 1872 Education (Scotland) Act undoubtedly discriminated
against Gaelic, the important events affecting the future of that anguage
took place centuries earlier.

Once the various Anglian, Welsh and Norse elements of medieval Scotland adopted 'Inglis', as it was then called, as the common vernacular, the long-term future of Gaelic, one of gradual decline, was decided. This happened in the early Middle Ages.

Fred Forrester, Dunfermline

4. Gaelic legend who lives amongst us (Scottish Gaelic)

By Earl McRae -- For the Ottawa Sun
Sun, February 6, 2005

In the amber light of a dying wintry day, a front door opens on a quiet
street in Kanata and there she is, lovely as the island from whence she
came, her eyes and skin as clear and pure as its never-ending wind
from the sea.

She who has been living amongst us in anonymity since 2001; she who is a superstar; she who has travelled the world to great acclaim from
Europe to North America; she who is from the village of Eoligarry on the isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland; she who is Catherine-Ann MacPhee; she who is heralded as The Finest Gaelic Singer In The World.

I mention that the greatest legend of my music visited Scotland for an hour in March 1960, and she raises her eyebrows: Rock 'n' roll has never been her subsidiary taste.

While she has chosen to downsize her career since emigrating to Canada with her husband Angus, a computer software designer, and their children Mairead, 13, and Alex, 11, she is still present for her worshippers through her CDs, recently recording her first in Ottawa, Suil Air Ais, (Looking Back), for her British label. Last November, the BBC flew her to England to sing just one song -- testimony to her fame and greatness.

Gaelic revival

Gaelic, the traditional language of her people, is undergoing a revival.
There are Gaelic-immersion schools in Scotland, and its history and music is perpetuated through Scottish immigrants around the world and growing numbers of Gaelic societies, including one here in Ottawa.

Growing up on remote Barra with her sister, brother, and father who was a sailor, and mother who was a nurse, Gaelic was the only language spoken, and for many of the island, still is.

"My village was renowned for its Gaelic singing. The doors were never locked, and people would just drop in, and there'd be talking and singing,
and then the ceilidhs would start and go on and on. I was six before the
island got electricity. I didn't learn to speak English until I went to school."

Cathy-Ann, as she prefers to be called, was a gifted, natural singer. She
sang in the village halls and quaint hotels, on the tourist ships in the
harbour, and the word got back to the mainland about the young girl with the voice of an angel.

A professional Gaelic musical/ theatre group in Glasgow, Fir Chlis, recruited her, and three years later, another: The 7.84 Theatre Company, and now she was touring all around the world -- one stop, in the late 1970s, Sydney in Cape Breton, N.S.

Packed hall

"We came to perform There Is A Happy Land, the story of the Gaelic people and how they had to leave. We were to do only one show and fly back to Scotland, but a friend said she wanted us to perform the next night in Iona with a strong Gaelic population.

"On a moment's notice, handwritten notices went up on walls there the next morning -- 'Tonight! Bring All Your Friends!' -- and that night in the little village hall, it was so crowded you couldn't move, and people were
crying because this was their story.

"Cape Breton looked so much like Scotland. So beautiful. I was among my own. These were my people. I decided that one day I would move to Cape Breton and make it my home. When the kids finish college, I will -- a little house on a hill."

When Cathy-Ann, now 45, met and married Angus, they moved from Edinburgh back to Barra. "I wanted my children, for a few years of their lives, to have what I had." But, she never forgot Canada -- having performed across it several times -- and convinced Angus they should emigrate. With Cape Breton not providing the opportunities in his field, they came to Ottawa.

Devoting herself to her family, home, and relative privacy, Cathy-Ann MacPhee, the first lady of Gaelic song, still performs when asked. She can be reached at and it is also the way to locally buy her CDs of Gaelic songs that proliferate stores in the U.K. and Cape Breton.

She plays for me some tracks on one of them, backed by the genre's best musicians in the world. "My God," I say, "you should be singing in concert at the NAC." Before leaving, I ask her to translate something for me into Gaelic. She laughs.

"Choinnich Elvis ri na caraidean aige aig port adhair Prestwick air a rathad dhadhaigh as an airm sa Ghearmailt," she writes in my notebook. Elvis met his fans at Prestwick airport on his way home from the army in Germany.
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Today's headlines for 2/7/05:

I. Scotland
A. Language
1. Gaelic to be included on UK passports
2. Gaelic First for New UK Passports
B. Culture/History
1. Truth that lies in the mists of ancient legend
2. New currency for the king who coined his place in history

II. Ireland
A. Culture/History
1. Next Exit: Food, Gas and the Burial Place of Irish Kings


I. Scotland
A. Language
1. Gaelic to be included on UK passports


The Scotsman
Mon 7 Feb 2005

Gaelic to be included on UK passports

SCOTTISH Gaelic is to be included on UK passports for the first time,
the government is to announce today.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling will say the language is to
feature on all the new biometric passports from late this year or
early 2006.

©2005 Scotsman.com


2. Gaelic First for New UK Passports


BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Gaelic first for new UK passports

UK passports are to include details in Scottish Gaelic for the first
time, it has been confirmed.

It will be used in all sections of new biometric passports with
translations into EU member state languages.

The documents, which are set to be introduced in late 2005 or early
2006, are being designed by the UK Passport Service.

Scottish Secretary Alastair Darling said it is an "important
recognition" by ministers of the Gaelic language.

He said: "Gaelic headings will be included in all key information
sections of the new passport and this signifies the importance the
government places on supporting the language."

The passports will include a chip, embedded in the document to boost
security, containing personal details.

Mr Darling made the announcement as he prepared to visit Lewis and
tour Consumer Direct - part of a UK-wide network of call centres
providing consumer advice.

'European Charter'

Western Isles Labour MSP Alasdair Morrison, a Gaelic speaker, hailed
the "major milestone" for the language.

He said: "Gaelic speakers have been campaigning for 30 years for
recognition of the language in government services, so this is
excellent news."

Donald Martin, chief executive of Comunn na Gaidhlig - the Gaelic
Development Agency - said the announcement was good news for
Scotland's Gaelic speakers.

He said: "This gives Gaelic a position it hasn't had before and is
very much in line with the UK Government's obligations under the
European Charter regarding regional and minority languages."

During his Western Isles trip, Mr Darling is also due to visit the
Maritime and Coastguard Agency Centre, to thank staff for their work
during severe storms in the Western Isles last month.



B. Culture/History
1. Truth that lies in the mists of ancient legend


The Scotsman
Mon 7 Feb 2005

Truth that lies in the mists of ancient legend

Michael Wood

OVER the years, my job as a film-maker has taken me on many thrilling
journeys: searching for the Tale of Troy, tracking Alexander across
the heart of Asia; following the epic journeys of the conquistadors
in Amazonian Peru and Mexico. Often, in the wilds of the Hindu Kush,
say, or in the Andes, I have sat by the campfire to hear legendary
tales about real historical figures: how, for example, Alexander the
Great was borne up to heaven on a magic chariot drawn by griffons;
how he plumbed the depths of the ocean in a diving-bell. In a yurt
one night in the plains of central Asia, an old Turkman nomad told me
that Alexander really had horns, but because of his long wavy hair
only his barber knew the secret.

Often, at such times, it seemed that among the ordinary people the
legend had become more important than the history. The retelling of
the story in the folk tradition had produced its own narrative, far
more strange and wonderful than mere historical fact, but still in a
mysterious way reflecting some essence of the original story. Such
experiences set me thinking about myths in general, hero stories and
legends, and the way they grow over time, and are passed on - and
their relation to so-called "real" history. The BBC series that
started on Friday is the result of those musings.

The tales in our films come from some of the world's richest myth-
making traditions: Indian, Greek, Arabian and Jewish. The journeys
take us to some extraordinarily exotic places - Eritrea, Ethiopia and
the Yemen, Nepal and Tibet, Georgia and the mountains of the
Caucasus. But it is the myth from the Celtic world which is perhaps
the most famous and evocative of the lot: the tale of King Arthur and
the Knights of the Round Table.

Now, you might have thought that Arthur was a field too well-trodden
for anything new to be said. Everybody has their take on where
legends came from, and whether there is any history in them, but
nothing new has emerged on the "historical Arthur" over the past 30
years. My own feeling is that the story of Arthur is almost entirely
the creation of story-tellers in the British Isles, later embellished
by great French and German poets of the Middle Ages. The doyen of the
Arthur inventors, Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 1130s, fittingly wrote
within yards of the Oxford suburb where The Lord of the Rings, The
Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and more recently Philip
Pullman's His Dark Materials were written: and Geoffrey is nearer to
them than to any historian. With Arthur, then, don't think history -
think story-tellers.

That said, though, was there a historical kernel? If there was,
scholars these days are more and more drawn to a Scottish connection.
The first written version of the legend, by Nennius in the early
ninth century, claims Arthur was a British hero fighting against the
Saxons at the time after the fall of the Roman Empire.

In this first appearance he is already a mythic figure, a Dark Age
Che Guevara shading into medieval Superman. Nennius gives Arthur a
list of 12 battles which, like other such lists in early Welsh
poetry, is drawn from different times and places: but some are
obviously northern: the Caledonian forest clearly lies to the north
of Hadrian's Wall; another may be High Rochester in the Cheviots.
Even more interesting in the northern connection is the tenth-century
Welsh Annals' mention of the battle where an "Arthur" was killed,
along with a Medraut who sounds very much like a prototype of
Mordred, Arthur's eventual betrayer. The name of the battle is
Camlann, which if it is to be found in any surviving Roman British
placename appears to be Camboglanna: the "crooked bank" -
Castlesteads Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall: a fort that we know was
occupied well into the post-Roman twilight perhaps by some Border

This area between the wall, the Clyde and the Forth is also where the
earliest old Welsh poetry derives from: the poems of the bards
Aneirin, Taliesin, and interestingly enough, Myrddin "the Wild", the
wandering fugitive whom later tradition turned into the prophet and
magician Merlin.

All of which might suggest that the shadowy beginnings of the tale
might lie in a northern bardic tradition recording battles fought in
the Borders between Saxons, Picts, Scots and Cumbrians.

The early Welsh poems allow us to glimpse the real world of Dark Age
north British leaders in their feasting halls. They wore golden torcs
and cloaks of beaver skin, drank "pale mead" from gilded cups and
fought with "stained swords and bristling spears"; boasting, so the
poets said, that they would "rather be flesh for wolves than go to
the altar to wed": a suitably gritty take on the tale.

But was there a real Arthur? I'd put my money on one of the most
famous early Scottish texts: the biography of St Columba by Adomnan
of Iona. There, Adomnan tells of a tragic battle, perhaps back in the
580s, in the time of Aidan, the first king of the Dal Riada Scots to
really emerge from myth. In the battle, Aidan's eldest son is killed
by a border people known as the Miathi. His name is Artuir.

This Arthur is the genuine article - recorded in an excellent early-
eighth century manuscript, so unmediated by the fakers and the myth-
makers. And perhaps it's not stretching the imagination too far to
picture a bard in the court of Dal Riada singing of the tragic
victorious battle prophesied by St Columba where King Aidan's heir
died fighting with his brothers and heroes of his warband?

That's just a guess, of course. But in the end, the power of the
myth, like all great myths, doesn't depend on literal historical
truth. The perennial vitality of the Arthur legend comes from its
great symbols - like the Grail, mystical and ultimately unattainable -
and its timeless themes: the quest, the pure knighthood, the fatal
union of adulterous love, the tragedy of civil strife, and the
ambiguous majesty of kingship itself. All these themes had a
fantastic appeal to medieval people, and to the Victorians. And they
still do to us today.

? Michael Wood is a writer, broadcaster and film-maker. His new
series In Search of Myths and Heroes continues on Friday on BBC2.

©2005 Scotsman.com


2. New currency for the king who coined his place in history

New currency for the king who coined his place in history
STEPHEN STEWART. The Herald. February 07 2005

HE is Scotland's "forgotten king", who built the modern nation state
but was
overshadowed by descendants such as Robert the Bruce.

Now a leading historian has written the first biography of David I,
he changed the direction of Scotland's development and had a far
impact on Britain's history than was previously thought.

Dr Richard Oram, of the University of Stirling, said the twelfth-
monarch was often ignored, but was one of the greatest state-builders
only in Scotland, but in the British Isles.

He claims that David I modernised Scotland, formulated a national
code, introduced native coinage, founded the main burghs, reformed the
church and established monasteries.

He also extended Scotland's southern frontier almost as far as the
but is almost entirely ignored in modern Scotland.
Dr Oram found that it was David I who built the dominant feature of
castle, the keep traditionally attributed to Henry II, the English

Dr Oram said: "David was the king who effectively created the kingdom
Scotland as we would now recognise it.

"The man was a complete swine but then you didn't succeed by being
nice in
those days. Wallace and Bruce are seen as the 'liberators', the
heroes who rescued Scotland from the tyranny of foreign oppression or
so the
conventional propaganda would have it.

"Both were the subject of epic poems which, whatever their historical
fixed them eternally in the popular mind as the towering
personalities of
medieval Scotland.

"David, despite his successes in projecting Scottish royal power
than any of his predecessors and extending it more effectively than
any of
his successors before the fifteenth century, did not have a similar

He added: "In post-Reformation Scotland, he was simply too Catholic
for the
taste of some historians."

Dr Oram's research into David I has revealed a complex character who
waver between God-fearing piety and ruthless violence. A committed
Christian, the king cared about his subjects, but was also extremely
ambitious for himself and his immediate family.

Dr Oram's work has also dispelled the long held myth that the
medieval king
was a "Normanised" outsider who imposed his ways on a backward

"He can appear as a cynical political manipulator who used casual
as an instrument in his statecraft, but, conversely, he appears to
have been
deeply tortured by some of his actions and attempted to salve his
and secure spiritual salvation through pious acts," said Dr Oram.

"I believe he was much more of a hybrid, who introduced new ways
where they
helped him to tighten his grip on power and extend royal authority
generally, but also ruled in the tradition of his ancestors."

David established a feudal system in Scotland and introduced many
ideas such as silver coinage, promoting education and giving
audiences to
rich and poor alike.

Stirling, Perth and Dunfermline were made royal burghs, which meant
they could engage in foreign trade and 15 religious houses were
including the abbeys at Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose.

King David died in Carlisle in 1153, at the age of 69. He had ended
his days
gardening and tending orchards below Edinburgh Castle and in
Henry, His only son, had died in 1152, so he was succeeded by Malcolm
his 12-year-old grandson.


II. Ireland
A. Culture/History
1. Next Exit: Food, Gas and the Burial Place of Irish Kings


Next Exit: Food, Gas and the Burial Place of Irish Kings

Published: January 31, 2005

TARA, Ireland - Ancient England may have Stonehenge, but ancient
Ireland has
the Hill of Tara. The 6,000-year-old sacred site in the middle of
rolling fields is revered here as the burial place of 140 kings, and
as the
formative birthplace of this land's national identity.

Modern Ireland also has Dublin, whose budding metropolitan area is
home to
about 1.5 million people of Ireland's population of close to 4
million. The
city's growing sprawl is causing a clash that is affecting the entire
country, as lovers of the mythical and prehistoric Ireland try to
the placidity of Tara against the needs of local residents struggling
commute to the capital on antiquated and inadequate roads.

That need prompted plans more than four years ago for a highway
into County Meath, where the population has soared in the last decade.
Drivers rejoiced in the hope of relief from the interminable traffic
jams on
the existing two-lane road to Dublin, which carries double its
vehicle capacity as it winds through farmland and past rows of new
complexes that have sprung up outside each little town.

The highway's proposed route, though, is to pass Tara, about 1.5
miles to
the east, and is to carve through a valley that contains some of the
archaeological sites in Europe. As a result, the road plan has become
lightning rod for bringing ancient history into contemporary politics.
Archaeologists and heritage campaigners have begun fighting a legal
to move the road, and they contend that a failure to do so would
prove that
Ireland, awash with wealth after its "Celtic Tiger" economic boom,
has lost
touch with its roots.

Construction is to start early next year and be completed by 2008,
but could
take longer if protests go on.

The campaign to preserve the Tara-Skryne valley is backed by prominent
members of Parliament - one called the highway's route "an act of
vandalism" - and has attracted significant international support on

Tara "is important to our psyche, our nation, and our identity," said
Julitta Clancy, secretary of the Meath Archaeological and Historical
Society, which is opposed to the route through the valley that
from the monuments at Tara to the picturesque ruins of a stone church
on a
neighboring hill at Skryne. "But it's also important to archaeology,
and to
what I think future generations should have handed on to them."

Supporters of the four-lane road, which at 40 miles in length and a
million budget would be Ireland's biggest highway, counter that it
does not
threaten the hill itself. They point out that alternative routes pass
unacceptably close to dozens of houses. They also say that the 38
archaeological sites that developers have already found along the
would be excavated, documented, and stored in a museum.

"History and culture have a place, but I don't accept that they should
necessarily dictate" planning decisions, said Michael Egan, corporate
affairs officer for the National Roads Association, the government
body that
builds highways. "You can't sacrifice the current population en masse
archaeology alone."

That argument resonates with people like Alan Carton, who bought a
with his fiancée in Meath four years ago. Driving 32 miles to his job
Dublin takes him more than two hours each way, leaving little time
with his
16-month-old son.

"It annoys me that the baby sitter sees more of him than I do," said
Carton, 30. "She gets to see him doing things for the first time that
don't get to see."

At a recent meeting of the Irish Parliament's environment committee,
opponents of the route contended that the Tara-Skryne valley is an
archaeological landscape, filled with dozens and possibly hundreds of
undiscovered sites, like a ring of protective forts that encircle the
hill. They fear that Tara's spectacular views, which reach to 13 of
Ireland's 32 counties on a clear day, will be marred by gas stations
restaurants at a proposed cloverleaf junction nearby.

Unlike Stonehenge or archaeological sites like the Newgrange passage
tomb in
Meath, Tara requires a lot of imagination from contemporary visitors.
oldest monuments at Tara date from 4,000 B.C. - which, as every Irish
schoolchild proudly knows, precedes the Egyptian pyramids at Giza by
years - and Ireland's high kings were crowned on the hill until
arrived. But most of its structures are buried or grown-over, and can
admired just as grassy bumps and ridges in the ground.

Still, many people consider Tara to be the heart of Celtic
spirituality -
new-age Druids still hold regular ceremonies here - and central to

On a blustery afternoon recently, Ms. Clancy led a group of about 20
on a walk around the hill, pointing out monuments like the two
ridges stretching down a slope that could have been a processional or
banquet hall.

"It comes down to the Celtic Tiger turning its back on its Celtic
past," Ms.
Clancy said.

Edel Bhreathnach, a historian at University College Dublin who has
researched Tara for more than a decade, told the parliamentary
that the route would cost more money and more time than the
route to the east that opponents support, because of legal challenges
excavations required by law before construction begins.

"This destruction will be irrevocable," Ms. Bhreathnach said. "It will
undermine Ireland's credibility as custodians of our shared European
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Today's headlines for 2/8/05:

I. Scotland
A. Gaelic
1. Standing by their word
2. Attie Mackechnie
B. Broad Scots
1. Rastafarian Burns defies Scottish artistic traditions
C. General
1. Literary legacy we are denying our youngsters

II. Cornwall
1. Death of Jowann Richards

I. Scotland
A. Gaelic

1. Standing by their word

Press and Journal. 09:00 - 07 February 2005

At a time when the number of Gaelic speakers in the Highlands and
afield is held to be dangerously low, what does the future hold for
ancient language? EILIDH DAVIES spoke to members of the Gaelic
community to
find out

Ciamar a tha thu? If you understand this phrase then you are part of
just 1%
of the Scottish population who does.

It means: "How are you doing?" in Gaelic.

The apparently fragile state of the language has led to a number of
initiatives over the past 20 years or so.

Not least is the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill, introduced in the
Parliament on September 27 last year and expected to become law by

Politicians hope the bill, debated in principle by MSPs last week,
secure the future of the language, both at ministerial and grassroots

At its heart will be Bord na Gaidhlig, set up by the Scottish
Executive two
years ago to promote the language.

Bord na Gaidhlig chief executive Allan Campbell said the new
would have a stronger voice than previous organisations.

"For example, Comunn na Gaidhlig is not statutory - it has no
powers," he

"It can cajole and coax and plead but it can't actually order or

"The bord will have authority."

But though the board can deliver a hefty bite, Mr Campbell insists it
take a more co-operative approach.

He said: "I don't see any benefit in the bord, or any other
waving a big stick and saying, 'you must do that'.

"We want to work with organisations. We have been set up to co-
ordinate the
redevelopment of Gaelic in Scotland.

"The future is extremely precarious. The number of Gaelic speakers is
at a
dangerously low level but we have a commitment from Government and
legislation on the horizon.

"That's a huge step forward.

"We will produce a national plan for Gaelic which will tie all the
together, encompassing elements of the Gaelic language bill."

Mr Campbell said this would be done by working with voluntary groups,
enterprise companies and a wide range of other bodies to ensure
matters were
progressed at community level.

Public-sector bodies will also be required to produce Gaelic language
or schemes through the bill.

Mr Campbell said about 15 bodies, such as VisitScotland, could be
invited to
work with the bord.

He also stressed it was important to find ways to enable people to
use the
language in their everyday life.

He said some services should be provided through the medium of Gaelic
that it was not necessary to translate everything into Gaelic.

He added, however, that companies should be thinking about what they
do and
who they do it for, and how they could deliver some of the service
the medium of Gaelic.

"It's essential for the status of the language," Mr Campbell
said. "It gives
pride to those who speak it and pride for those who provide this.

"It's about facilitation, not coercion - enabling people who want to
language, not forcing it on people who don't want it."

Mr Campbell said Gaelic could also be economically advantageous,
claiming it
is a unique selling point which helps give visitors a sense of place.

He said: "Unless we have that, we are denying ourselves an economic
opportunity in my view."

Previous initiatives aimed at safeguarding the language include the
report by the then Highlands and Islands Development Board, Cor na
the state of Gaelic, which recommended setting up a Gaelic language

It also said the Scottish Office needed a Gaelic group from the Gaelic

Comunn na Gaidhlig, meanwhile, a company with charitable status and
established to promote and develop the language, was set up in 1984.

Mr Campbell said: "There was a feeling in the 1960s and 70s, and even
that, that Gaelic was nice to sing and to use socially but, in every
practical sense, it was no use. This is not the case any longer.
There is
now an embryonic development of language."

The 2001 census recorded 65,674 people aged three or over who could
read or write the language - 1.3% of the population.

Many believe young people are the key to preserving the Gaelic

More than 1,000 children are receiving Gaelic-medium education and a
1,000 are learning Gaelic in secondary schools in the Highlands.
Keir is a teacher in the Gaelic-medium unit at Central Primary School
Inverness. It was the first such unit to open in the Highlands and
now has
more than 100 pupils.

Miss Keir was one of the first pupils at the school 20 years ago and
stresses the advantage of children learning the language through

"It's definitely an advantage. Research has proved that by the time
who have gone through Gaelic-medium education reach Primary 7, they
generally outdo their English counterparts.

"It's challenging for them and I think it makes them more self-
Miss Keir said.

Although she believes the future looks bright for Gaelic due to the
number of children receiving Gaelic-medium education, Miss Keir said
was always room for improvement.

"There will never be enough resources or materials, but I suppose
true of most things," she said.

"We now know there are job opportunities for people who can speak
That doesn't mean they have to have a Gaelic job, but it may be
useful to
them during their working life and it is seen as advantageous by many

Murdo Morrison is promotion manager for the Royal National Mod, the
showcase for Gaelic singers and musicians. It has proved resilient,
surviving for more than 100 years.

Mr Morrison said the Mod had to change with the times if it was to
to play an important part in the development of the language.

An Comunn Gaidhlig established the Mod and has now appointed three
development officers who work across Scotland, from the Western Isles

Mr Morrison said this was one of the measures the body was
undertaking to
try to address the changing environment the language had to adapt to.

He also stressed that youngsters were vital to the survival of the
and said the importance of Gaelic at community level could not be

Mr Morrison said Bord na Gaidhlig needed to be given time before any
judgment on its success could be made, but said he would be delighted
work with the it.

He added: "Gaelic is a national asset, not just confined to the
and islands of Scotland.

"Gaelic is the only language which has been spoken continuously in
from before the time of the Romans until the present day. It gave
its name and has left its mark in the form of place names from
Lothian to

"Although the language is in a precarious position, it also has some
enthusiastic and passionate supporters who, I have no doubt, will do
everything within their power to ensure the survival of the Gaelic


2. Attie Mackechnie

Attie Mackechnie
MAXWELL MacLEOD. The Herald. February 07 2005

The death of Attie Mackechnie has robbed Mull of one of its last great
tradition bearers and perhaps the most significant of the Gaelic
who formed the backbone of the project to rebuild and maintain Iona

The restoration project was led by George MacLeod, and while popular
mythology may suggest that all the re-building work was undertaken by
unemployed shipyard workers from Govan, an infinitely greater role was
played by a group of around a dozen Gaelic stone masons from the Ross

Back in the 1950s, these included the young Attie, a stocky, intensely
dignified and good-looking Mull man who sang Gaelic songs to
competition level and had served with distinction as a seaman on

As Herald columnist Ron Ferguson stated in his biography of MacLeod,
much of
the motivation behind the abbey's restoration related to the
of the Gaelic and Celtic traditions. Attie and his colleagues played
instrumental role in this through the cultural education of the
dozens of
young minister and labourers who joined them on the shaky wooden

A typical summer's evening would see several of the Mull craftsmen
among piles of massive granite stones, memorising their shapes and
distribution of weight for the day's building ahead. Their lifting and
laying would sometimes be lubricated by Gaelic worksongs, and always

Attie was at the heart of all this. He drove the lorry (Annie), fixed
everything (specialising in disputes) and even found the time to
teach this,
no doubt irritatingly garrulous, young boy to catch flounders on
bated long

He was good to fish with, steady and methodical, and Attie seemed
pre-programmed with knowledge of the tides, birds and wind. When he
his Gaelic songs as we waited for the lines to fill, the music seemed
come from the same source.

Although Attie's career necessitated that he often moved between the
Hebrides and the mainland, where his work included a spell as an
administrator at the Pierce Institute, in Govan, his heart was always
in the
west. All parties were delighted when he was able to return to the
building to act as manager of the Iona Abbey Trustees maintenance

It was then that perhaps the most significant part of his career
began. With
his quiet and unassuming manner, he was not only a pacifying link
the trustees and their new tenants, the Iona Community, who had
the re-building, he was also an invaluable fund of knowledge on how
abbey (and, indeed, the trustees and the Iona Community) fitted

These two groups, the Iona Community and the trustees, were often in
a state
of tension. Attie, who was a signed-up member of both organisations,
a sophisticated diplomatic role based on straight talking and zero

Back on his family's land on Mull, at Lee near Bunessan, Attie was
also fast
becoming something of a Gaelic legend through his story-telling,
singing and
general tradition bearing. An indication of the respect with which
MacLeod held Attie's word might be seen in MacLeod taking a dispute
over the
tenancy of that land to a question in the House of Lords.

His latter years were spent looking after his beloved wife, the
former Mary
Tolland, on Mull and, after her death, as a living institution whose
home was almost incessantly being visited by scholars and friends, all
hungry for his refreshing company.

A well-known voice on Gaelic radio and a respected source of
information on
all things Gaelic, his contribution was so accurate and immense that,
an indigenous forest was planted on the Ross of Mull, it was named in

This writer knew Attie Mackechnie for nigh on 50 years and never once
him shout or insult anyone. He never had to.
He was truly a darling man and a great credit to his people. May the
lands of Mull now take him home.


B. Broad Scots

1. Rastafarian Burns defies Scottish artistic traditions

Rastafarian Burns defies Scottish artistic traditions
SUSAN MANSFIELD. The Scotsman. 8th February, 2005.

YOU can't grow up in Ayrshire and escape Robert Burns. From annual
recitations in schools to tourist signs on every corner, you are left
in no
doubt you're in the shadow of the national bard. Graham Fagen grew up
Irvine, at the heart of Burns country, though he always felt more
with the sounds of Jamaican reggae.

Later, when he became an artist, he decided to look further into this
personal paradox. When he realised that Burns himself had planned to
Scotland for a new life in Jamaica in 1786, he knew he had found
ground within which he could explore issues of cultural identity.

He has returned to it several times but never as directly, or perhaps
effectively, as in his new show, Clean Hands, Pure Heart. Visitors to
darkened space will be greeted by familiar words, in an unfamiliar
accent: a
video projection in which Burns's The Slave's Lament, spliced at each
end by
verses of Auld Lang Syne, is sung by reggae vocalist Ghetto Priest.

"I wanted to clash two songs together which have opposite sentiments,
make sense as a whole. The first rendition of Auld Lang Syne sounds
like you're hearing it on the radio. Then there's a heartfelt
rendering of
The Slave's Lament by a young black Rastafarian man, which is
powerful in
terms of the history and meaning of the song. Then Auld Lang Syne
revitalised and intensified."

Like all Fagen's work, it is a product of careful thought and
Fagen, a contemporary of Douglas Gordon and Roddy Buchanan at Glasgow
of Art, is one of Scotland's most versatile artists. He has, he
says, "a
library of ideas, questions, curiosities, intrigues" from which he
the concept for each new work. Research will then guide him to a

That might be photography, drawing or watercolour. Or it might be
making a
neon sign, developing a new variety of rose, setting up a pirate radio
station, or designing a public park. Fagen doesn't hang around
waiting to be
pigeon-holed. At 39, he has shown all over the world. There have been
Biennales in Venice, New Zealand and Korea. This summer, however, he's
concentrating on matters closer to home, the arrival of his second

Fagen is an ideas man. He may or may not have hands-on input in the
work, but you can be sure he has overseen it carefully, pulling
together the
necessary expertise to realise his idea - rose growers, bronze
casters or,
in this case, a music producer. Adrian Sherwood has worked with
Madonna and
Sinead O'Connor, but, crucially for Fagen, runs his own reggae label,

"I went to our first meeting, thinking he would want to think about
it get
back to me," Fagen says. "I stumbled through my pitch, and he
went: 'Sure,
great,' and spent the next 15 minutes talking about how we could do

"Adrian played a version of The Slave's Lament to Ghetto Priest and
he just
sat and cried. He said that he somehow knew I would bring this song
to him,
that he was born to sing this song. You can see by his performance
how much
he understood and felt the lyrics."

It was with Ghetto Priest's moving rendition of Burns ringing in his
that Fagen sat down to watch Hogmanay TV, trundling out its usual
versions of the bard. "It sounded pathetic," he says. "It's as if the
radical we can get is having someone who used to be in a pop group
Burns, and it's awful!"

Scotland, he says, has a paradoxical attitude to its national
poet. "Take
Shakespeare or Goethe - they have academic, political and cultural
examination and re-examination, as with any serious literary figure.
We have
a serious figure in literature who is good for selling shortbread!"

It is part of the artist's job, he believes, to question these
things: "The
artist is someone who lives and works and functions within the
Maybe the artist is in a position to work with that culture, to
examine that
culture, compare it to others, to question it, to analyse it, to try
understand it in order to present the views and understanding back in

Any conversation with Fagen will range widely. One minute we're on a
cultural critique of Scotland, the next we're talking about the still-
painting of the 17th-century Dutch masters. The other works in Fagen's
Tramway show, four meticulous bronze casts of flowers and plants, he
considers "still lives".

There is a delicate black pansy ("It's the whole idea of seeing a
face in an unfamiliar colour, like having a young Rastafarian man
The Slave's Lament"); a vase of arum lilies, formal and with
overtones of
mortality; a large leek, wrapped in a sheet of Kosovan newsprint, a
reference to Fagen's time as a war artist in Kosovo ("It weighs a
and a pineapple and orange. Add rhyming slang (pineapple-chapel) and
have the sectarian divisions of Scotland on a plate.

His fascination with still life, he says, lies in the depth of its
tradition. The lowest genre in the table compiled by the artistic
it nevertheless had its own artistic language, one which he can play
and subvert. The best still-life paintings create an illusion of being
three-dimensional. Fagen's really are. Not just clever replicas, they
physical casts of the objects they represent. Not to mention what
might just
be the heaviest leek in the world.

* Clean Hands, Pure Heart by Graham Fagen is at Tramway 2, Friday
until 13
March, with a panel discussion and publication launch on 10 March.


C. General

1. Literary legacy we are denying our youngsters


The Scotsman
Tue 8 Feb 2005

Literary legacy we are denying our youngsters



I SPOKE to a politician recently. We are, I suggested, the only
country in Europe who need to be educated about ourselves.

"How did you learn?" he asked, cocking his head to one side and
changing the subject. His point was that my non-academic route was
open to others, a logic which refutes the need for education.

Tom Devine rightly calls our schools' neglect of our nation's
history "an educational scandal". But the truly shameful fact is that
the scandal can be extended to other subjects.

Since Writing Scotland was broadcast on BBC2 last year I have been
stopped in the street, had letters and phone calls from strangers
asking for information. Most folk say they had no idea such a diverse
literary wealth existed.

The series set out to introduce Scottish writers and their work to a
Scottish audience. This had never been done before, either on radio
or television. We therefore tried to be as inclusive as possible,
hoping to offer what Chekhov said a short story should offer, a
glimpse; and from this initial sighting, he said, the rest of the
story can be constructed.

Such a series would be unnecessary in almost any other European
country where national literature is taught, often from primary
school onwards. Our achievements in science and engineering, our
strengths in literature and the arts, the fact that Scotland has
consistently punched above its weight in various fields is obviously
something our nation's young learn only if they are interested, after
they have left school.

Nothing about us is good enough. Our very language has been
consistently undermined and denigrated. Yet the list of Scottish
literature's individual and collective achievements is no less
impressive in its familiarity. Robert Burns is the world's most
celebrated poet. James Hogg's Confessions and Memoirs of a Justified
Sinner is a masterwork of world literature. Walter Scott invented
both the historical and romantic novel. Conan Doyle gave the world
its most famous detective. Robert Louis Stevenson invented the
psychological novel. Hugh MacDiarmid was considered one of the
greatest European writers of the 20th century. And Muriel Spark is
surely a candidate for the Nobel laureateship.

Edwin Muir said our ballads contain the greatest poetry Scotland has
produced: "They bring us back again to the Scottish people and its
part in the making of Scotland; for it was the people who created
these magnificent poems," he wrote. "The greatest poetry of most
countries has been written by the educated middle and upper classes;
the greatest poetry of Scotland has come from the people."

In the last analysis it is a matter of national pride. We have a
literature of which any other country would boast. It is a birthright
our children are being denied.

? Carl MacDougall wrote and presented BBC2's Writing Scotland series
which was screened from September to November last year.

©2005 Scotsman.com


II. Cornwall

1. Death of Jowann Richards

Death of Jowann Richards
Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Cornish Language Fellowship is sad to report the death of one of
Kernewek's most prolific authors. Yowann Richards died from a heart
on Friday 28th January. He was very ill with heart problems in 2004,
although he made a miraculous recovery since leaving hospital last
April, he
started to become ill again a few weeks ago. However, on the morning
of his
death, he had remarked that he was feeling much better again, but
then died
of a heart attack a few hours later at around midday.

John Willis Richards was born on 14th June 1926, in Poole, Dorset. On
mother's side, he traced his family back in Penrith to about 1540,
and on
his father's side in West Devon to 1405.

He was educated at Poole Grammar School and later, after army service
to 1947, at University College, Southampton. He was a Chemical and
Biochemical Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical
Engineers and
a Chartered Engineer. Until retirement in 1991, he worked for several
chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and latterly as a Consulting
Engineer. For some years he was a member of the Management Committee
of the
Government Biotechnology Directorate.

He was the author of many papers and articles, and of five books in
on topics ranging from mathematics, fermentation, biochemical
and technical management to natural history for children. He was the
of numerous short and longer stories in Cornish, and one short Cornish
novel, writing under the name of Jowann Richards. His hobbies included
reading novels in Welsh.

He became a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh (Mab Roswern) by examination
1986, after learning Cornish through KDL (Kernewek Dre Lyther) and was
winner of the Mordon-Caradar Rosebowl in 1985, 1987 and 1993, The
poetry competition in 1989 and of the Cornish Crystal in 1986.

John was married to Nancy, with a son David and a daughter Gillian.
He lived
in Fareham, Hampshire.
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Here are the headlines for 2/10/05

2. No Welsh or other lesser-used languages on European jobseekers passport (Welsh)


A LONG-AWAITED Gaelic Language Bill, which will give Gaelic official recognition and require all public bodies to create a language policy, is expected to be approved by MSPs shortly. The bill was unveiled last September and the Scottish Executive hopes it will complete its parliamentary process this summer. As well as giving official recognition to Scottish Gaelic, the bill gives powers to the Gaelic development board, B"rd na Gààidhlig, to oversee the development of the language and secure its status as an official language of Scotland. A Scottish Parliament committee scrutinising the bill warned earlier this month that the legislation on its own would not save the language. Education committee convener Robert Brown said MSPs had been struck by the 'fragile' condition of the Gaelic language. 'This bill will contribute to securing the future of Gaelic but it will not be enough on its own,' he said. 'It has to be backed up by real commitment by the Scottish Executive to the language and the Gaelic community and, in particular, to Gaelic education.' At the last census the number of people able to speak, read or write Scottish Gaelic had fallen to 65,674 by 2001 - a drop of 20 per cent in 20 years. Figures for Manx Gaelic, on the other hand, were much more positive showing an increase to 1,689 speakers - more than double the 1991 figure.

2. No Welsh or other lesser-used languages on European jobseekers passport (Welsh)

Huw Morgan yn Abergele 2/8/2005

An European scheme that helps those seeking work and that includes information on the languages that they speak does not include the Welsh language. Europass, which was recently launched by the European Commission, is designed to make it easier for people to explain their qualifications when looking for work in another European country. It includes a series of documents including a Language Passport to show an individual's linguistic skills. But although the document allows people to select their mother tongue from a list that includes Catalan, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Korean as well as English, Arabic and Turkish, Welsh and other minoritised languages are not included. Plaid Cymru Euro MP Jill Evans has expressed her disappointment that this new European qualification scheme has ignored the existence of Welsh. "Once again we see Wales left out when it comes to Europe. The British Government is clearly not doing its bit to represent our interests at the European level. I'm a strong supporter of the Europass scheme - it has great potential to stimulate jobs and help growth by making it easier for people to look for work in other European Union countries - but this snub to the Welsh language is utterly unacceptable." She added that, "Not only is this a failure to recognise the reality of life in Wales - which after all is a part of the European Union - but I fear it could also discourage Welsh speakers or learners from taking part in this scheme. This could potentially put hundreds of thousands of people at a disadvantage. It shouldn't be difficult to rectify. I will be writing to therelevant authorities asking them to deal with the situation as a matter of urgency." The list does not allow speakers of Welsh to list their language either as their mother tongue or as a second language. This is despite Welsh being spoken by over 500,000 people in Wales, and by over 40% of young people who are very likely to be interested in this scheme. The Welsh language is also recognised as a lesser used language by the European Commission, as is Catalan, which, however, is on the list. (Eurolang ©© 2005) http://europass.cedefop.eu.int/instruments/lp/step0.do
Europass Language Passport
> Plaid Cymru
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