Gàidhlig in the UK
I would like to add to the comments you have already received regarding devolving powers to include recognition for Gaelic status. My comments are based on a discussion I have already had with Tom Harris MP a few weeks ago which I had based on Article 13 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It was Mr Harris that raised the EDM #2822 on St. David’s Day 2012 in the House of Commons following an enquiry by myself as his constituent.
In Part III, Article 13 of this Charter, there is a list of provisions under the Charter which have not been accepted by either the UK or Scottish Government. They relate to Social and Economic Life of minority language speakers (and learners). They are:
b) to prohibit the insertion in internal regulations of companies and private documents of any clauses excluding or restricting the use of Scottish Gaelic, at least between users of Scottish Gaelic;
d) to facilitate and/or encourage the use of Scottish Gaelic by means other than those specified in the above sub paragraphs. With regard to economic and social activities, the United Kingdom undertakes, in so far as the public authorities are competent, within the territory in which Scottish Gaelic is used, and as far as this is reasonably possible:
a) to include in its financial and banking regulations provisions which allow, by means of procedures compatible with commercial practice, the use of Scottish Gaelic in drawing up payment orders (cheques, drafts, etc.) or other financial documents, or, where appropriate, to ensure the implementation of such provisions;
b) in the economic and social sectors directly under its control (public sector), to organise activities to promote the use of Scottish Gaelic;
c) to ensure that social care facilities such as hospitals, retirement homes and hostels offer the possibility of receiving and treating in Scottish Gaelic persons using Scottish Gaelic who are in need of care on grounds of ill health, old age or for other reasons;
d) to ensure by appropriate means that safety instructions are also drawn up in Scottish Gaelic;
e) to arrange for information provided by the competent public authorities concerning the rights of consumers to be made available in Scottish Gaelic.
Consumer rights, banking and financial services, health and safety are all matters that matter equally to the Gaelic learner and speaker. It is now the right time for the UK to accept these measures and provide for them under the Charter. The conditions are right today to grow industry by using the Gaelic language in more and more businesses.
In setting up my current business, I choose to use Gaelic as the main language, however UK policies make this a difficult thing to do. For example, it’s difficult to bank in my main business language especially for business banking I bank with the Bank of Scotland who has most of its offices outside of Scotland and most of its employees have no knowledge of the Gàidhlig language. As my business expands, I would like to be able to communicate with Companies House in Gaelic, with HMRC in Gaelic, with motor and other insurance providers in the first language of my comapany. I would also like to post job adverts written in Gaelic on the DWP website. It is the Gaelic language which will give my business the strength to succeed, and I would hope that any government that benefits from taxes I pay would invest in my business by producing policies that will encourage and help my business to grow in the future as well as encourage the economic and social growth of the Gaelic language in Scotland and across the UK as a family of devolved nations.
Currently funding for the Gaelic is perceived by Westminster MPs to lie with the Scottish Government. They fail to see or understand or unwilling to see or understand that funding for the Gaelic language can only relate to the devolved issues. Gàidhlig is not a subject but a distinct culture and way of life as well as a language.
On a final note, I must add that the “family of nations” that some politicians like to remind us of should be thriving to develop and embrace all of our natural cultural differences instead of trying to force a synthetic Westminster politics ‘one nation’ idea of where we cater more for the languages from outside the island than our own indigenous languages from within.
Le deagh dhùrachdan,