John Swinney: No place for hostility towards Gaelic in Scotland

John Swinney said he was 'horrified' by the negative reaction to a recent Gaelic funding announcement. Picture: John Devlin

John Swinney said he was 'horrified' by the negative reaction to a recent Gaelic funding announcement. Picture: John Devlin

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John Swinney has declared that there is no place in Scotland for hostility towards the Gaelic language, after being “horrified” by the negative response to a recent funding announcement.

The Deputy First Minister pledged to help increase the number of Gaelic speakers during keynote speech at the Royal National Mòd in Stornoway yesterday, and also announced £700,000 of extra government funding for Glasgow’s two Gaelic schools.

The coveted Silver Pendant medals were awarded to singers Fiona Ross of Glasgow and Fergus Muir of Bowmore at the Mod yesterday.

The coveted Silver Pendant medals were awarded to singers Fiona Ross of Glasgow and Fergus Muir of Bowmore at the Mod yesterday.

But he had clearly been stung by an anti-Gaelic backlash, mainly on social media, to the award of “modest funding” of £33,000 last month to Fèisean nan Gàidheal, a group which takes Gaelic into schools.

“I announced some additional funding to enhance and expand the excellent work they are doing,” said Mr Swinney, as he delivered the Angus Macleod Memorial lecture. “It would hardly have broken the bank, but I was horrified to read many hostile responses to this announcement.

“I know many of you have encountered this hostility to Gaelic. You will be familiar with the negative points - ‘it is a dead language’, ‘it was never spoken here’, ‘it is a waste of money’, ‘it is being shoved down our throats’, ‘it is a divisive SNP plot’. These views are often found and shared on social media, but sadly sometimes enter into political exchanges and mainstream media.

“These views are as groundless and unwelcome as they are inaccurate and misleading. They betray a poor understanding of our country, its history and the respect we should show to minority communities. My very clear view is that hostility to Gaelic has no place in Scotland.

Anna Nicolson of Portree High School, winner of the Junior Advanced Clarsach competition at the Mod.

Anna Nicolson of Portree High School, winner of the Junior Advanced Clarsach competition at the Mod.

“Let me set the record straight. Gaelic is a language of daily use. The support for Gaelic is a good use of public funds. Gaelic offers a range of benefits to Scotland. It is a valuable language to learn and it deserves the support of people of all political backgrounds in Scotland. And it will have that support from this Scottish Government and from this Deputy First Minister of Scotland.

“Gaelic belongs to Scotland, and we should all unite behind the effort to create a secure future for Gaelic in Scotland.”

Mr Swinney, who assumed ministerial responsibility for Gaelic earlier this year, added: “The picture of Gaelic development through the years has progressed from campaigning for recognition, to putting structures and projects in place. Now that we are at the point where we have good structures in place, we must ensure these are effectively used to strengthen the language and to reap the rewards of its contribution to the diversity that exists in Scotland’s culture and language.

“(Gaelic) has been spoken in this country for well over 1000 years and I believe this places a duty and a responsibility on us as custodians of this heritage. This is not special treatment or favouritism or a nationalist plot. It is simply the steps that should be taken to secure a measure of fair treatment for our minority language that has been with us for a long time.”

And he quoted a 2014 report which said that Gaelic had the potential to bring £150 million of economic value to Scotland each year, saying: “I cite these examples of positive economic impact to make an argument, that confounds the critics of Gaelic and demonstrates the relevance and significance of Gaelic to our society.”

The money for the Glendale Gaelic School and Sgoil Ghaidhlig Ghlaschu will go towards imporving facilities for current learners and upgrades to help tackle an increasing demand for places.

Since the introduction of the Gaelic Schools Capital Fund in 2008, the number of young people in Gaelic medium education has increased nationally by 32 per cent.

Meanwhile, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the national agency set up in partnership with the Scottish Government to promote Gaelic, has announced an award of £115,000 to support Gaelic drama development at professional, community and school levels.

“The primary aim of this project is to produce a professional Gaelic drama that will tour communities across Scotland, whilst at the same time offering on-the-job career development opportunities for those interested in working in the sector,” said David Boag of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Last night, Mr Swinney was one of the guests of honour at the Mòd’s showpiece event, the Gold Medal competition, which was screened live by BBC ALBA. The Deputy First Minister presented the ladies medal to Carol MacLean of Tobermory, while Mary Sandeman - aka 1980s pop star Aneka - presented Hector MacEachern of Morvern with the men’s medal.

Earlier on day six of the Mod, the Silver Pendant medals were awarded to Fiona Ross of Glasgow and Fergus Muir of Bowmore. In the competition for adults who have learned Gaelic, entrants are required to sing two songs, one prescribed and one of their own choosing.

Anna Nicolson, 15, of Portree High School won the Junior Advanced Clarsach competition, as Comunn na Clàrsaich (The Clarsach Society) welcomed an increasing interest in clarsach playing. Celebrating their 85th anniversary, the society reported a 20 per cent increase in competition entries from the last time the Mòd was held in the Western Isles in 2011.

MOD RESULTS: WEDNESDAY

VOCAL SOLOS

A222 Oran Mor (women) (Mr and Mrs Archibald MacDonald Memorial Trophy)

1 Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.

2 Ainsley Hamill, Càrdanros.

3 Ceitidh Smith, Inbhir Nis.

4 Catherine Tinney, Dùn Èideann.

Joyce Murray Trophy for Gaelic - Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.

A223 Oran Mor (men) (F.S. Cameron-Head Memorial Trophy)

1 Seumas Mac an t-sagairt, Leòdhas.

2 Eachann MacEachairn, Samhairidh.

3 Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, Inbhir Nis.

A270 Kennedy-Fraser Cup (Johanna Fortune Memorial Trophy)

1 Nicola Pearson, Calanais.

2 Donna Dugdale, Tobar Mhoire.

3 (equal) Jackie Cotter, Dùn Èideann, and Anne Bennett, Dùn Dè.

A271 Mull or Iona Song (Sarah Weir Memorial Trophy)

1 Anne Bennett, Dùn Dè.

2 Donna Dugdale, Tobar Mhoire.

3 Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.

A251 Learners (men) (Katie Stewart Memorial Trophy)

1 Fergus Muir, Bogh Mòr.

2 Coinneach MacLeòid, Lunainn.

3 Campbell McKenzie, Steòrnabhagh.

A253 Love Song (men) (Bank of Scotland Cup)

1 Fergus Muir, Bogh Mòr.

2 Campbell McKenzie, Steòrnabhagh.

3 Coinneach MacLeòid, Lunainn.

A221 Fluent (men) (Caledonian MacBrayne Trophy)

1 Alasdair Martin Christopher Currie, Ìle.

2 Seumas Mac an t-sagairt, Leòdhas.

3 Iain Gordon, Inbhir Narann.

A250 Learners (women) (Margot Campbell Trophy)

1 Eileen Duncan, Tunga.

2 Fiona Ross, Glaschu.

3 Mairi McGillivray, Ìle.

4 Lynn NicDhòmhnaill, Ìle.

A252 Lament (women) (Catherine M.B. Dunlop Quaich)

1 Eileen Duncan, Tunga.

2 Fiona Ross, Glaschu.

3 Mairi McGillivray, Ìle.

4 Lynn NicDhòmhnaill, Ìle.

A220 Fluent (women) (Mary C. MacNiven Memorial Salver)

1 Ceitidh Smith, Inbhir Nis.

2 Ainsley Hamill, Càrdanros.

3 Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.

4 Saffron Hanvidge, Inbhir Nis.

A248 Traditional (learners) (George Clavey Memorial Quaich)

1 Donna Dugdale, Tobar Mhoire.

A274 Skye or Sutherland Song (John D. Gillies Memorial Trophy)

1 Anne Bennett, Dùn Dè.

2 Jennifer Mary Speirs, Siabost.

3 Krista NicAonghais, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach.

CLARSACH

Solos (Junior)

B320 With Gaelic Songs (Glendale Quaich)

1 Màiri Callan, The High School of Glasgow.

2 Lili McShea, Àrd-sgoil Sheumais Ghilleasbuig.

3 Bronwen Stahl, Sgoil Naoimh Sheòrais, Dun Èideann.

B321 Beginners (Helmsdale Trophy)

1 Mairi Anna Binns, Sgoil Sir E Scott.

2 Iseabel NicRath, Bun-sgoil Phort Rìgh.

3 (equal) Flynn Conroy, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce, and Cara MacLachlan, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

B322 Elementary (Florence Wilson Trophy)

1 Ròsaidh Mackintosh, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

2 Esther MacLeod, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

3 Eimear McShea, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

B323 Intermediate 1 (K. Barry Milner Trophy)

1 Erin NicGillIosa, Àrd-sgoil Phort Rìgh.

2 Bronwen Stahl, Sgoil Naoimh Sheòrais, Dun Èideann.

3 Sorcha Thompson, Àrd-sgoil Sheumais Ghilleasbuig.

B323A Intermediate 2 (Lawrence MacDuff Cup)

1 Jessica Muir, Àrd-sgoil Greenfaulds.

2 Fiona Bell, Àrd-sgoil Dhùn Bhlàthain.

B324 Advanced (Duncan Chisholm Trophy)

1 Anna NicNeacail, Àrd-sgoil Phort Rìgh.

2 Màiri Callan, The High School of Glasgow.

3 (equal) Ciorstaidh Chaimbeul, St Mary’s Music School, and Sophie MacDonald, Acadamaidh Drochaid an Easbaig.

B332 Wire Harp (Sir Philip Christison Trophy)

1 Anna Tait Westwell, Dùn Èideann.

Solos (Senior)

B325 Elementary (Jean C. Campbell Award)

1 Claire Whyman, Am Bac.

2 Janet Cameron, Càrlabhagh.

3 (equal) Morag Philips, Sruighlea, and Helen McNeil, Taigh an Uillt.

B326 Advanced (Elspeth A. Hyllested Trophy)

1 Anne Stephen, Obar Phuill.

B329J Original Composition (Margaret Balfour Trophy)

1 Anna Pearson, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

2 Anna Tait Westwell, Dùn Èideann.

3 (equal) Ròsaidh Mackintosh, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce, and Esther MacLeod, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

Duets

B330 under 13 (Lord Birsay Trophy)

1 Mollaidh Nicholson & Sorcha Thompson, Àrd-sgoil Sheumais Ghilleasbuig.

2 (equal) Anna Pearson & Isla Thompson, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce, and Matthew Gilmour Wright & Finlay Penman, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

3 Eimear McShea & Seona MacDonald, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce.

B333 Senior (Drumelzier Quaich)

1 Anne Stephen & Morag Philips, Obar Phuill.

JUNIOR RESULTS

ORAL (FLUENT SPEAKERS)

C90 Conversation (13-15)

1 Marion MacCorquodale, Sgoil Lionacleit.

2 Eòin Coinneach Cuimeanach, Àrd-sgoil Gheàrrloch.

3 Dòmhnall Lachlann Beaton, Acadamaidh Rìoghail Bhaile Dhuthaich.

C40A (11-12)

1 Finlay MacLennan, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis.

2 John Varwell, Bun-sgoil Chille Mhoire.

3 Rae MacIver, Sgoil Gàidhlig Ghlaschu.

C40 (9-10) (Ewen Dingwall Memorial Trophy)

1 Daniel J Macleod, Sgoil a’ Bhac.

2 Korin Weir-Stewart, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu.

3 (equal) Anndra Uisdean Cuimeanach, Bun-Spoil Gheàrrloch, and Alec Dòmhnallach, Bun Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu.

C93 Prose Reading (13-15)

1 Eòin Coinneach Cuimeanach, Àrd-sgoil Gheàrrloch.

2 Hannah C Macleod, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

3 Dòmhnall Lachlann Beaton, Acadamaidh Rìoghail Bhaile Dhuthaich.

C106 Bible Reading (13-15)

1 Eòin Coinneach Cuimeanach, Àrd-sgoil Gheàrrloch.

2 Anna NicIain, Sgoil Lionacleit.

3 (equal) Marion MacCorquodale, Sgoil Lionacleit, and Hannah C Macleod, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

C92 Poetry Recitation (13-15)

1 Cathal Callan, The High School of Glasgow.

2 Eòin Coinneach Cuimeanach, Àrd-sgoil Gheàrrloch.

3 Blythe Wilson, Acadamaidh Inbhir Pheofharain.

C42A (11-12)

1 Kitty Anne Maciver, Sgoil a’ Bhac.

2 Finlay MacLennan, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis.

3 Eve Byrne, Bun-sgoil Chondobhrait.

C42ii (aged 10)

1 Mary Sophia Morrison, Bun Sgoil Lacasdail.

2 Lexy NicLeòid, Bun-sgoil Stafainn.

3 Korin Weir-Stewart, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu.

C22Aii (aged 8)

1 Màili MacLennan, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis.

2 Jenny Macleod, Sgoil an Taobh Siar.

3 Isla Duke, Bun-sgoil Chondobhrait.

CHORAL (FLUENT SPEAKERS)

C72 Two-part Harmony (under 13) (Mrs Ann Grant of Laggan Memorial Trophy)

1 Sgoil Sir E Scott.

2 Còisir Eilean an Fhraoich.

3 Còisir Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu.

C73 Puirt-a-Beul (under 13) (Mrs Schroder Cup)

1 Sgoil Sir E Scott.

2 Rionnagan Rois.

3 Còisir Òg Thròndairnis.

C71 Unison (under 13) (Aberfoyle and District Branch Trophy)

1 Sgoil Sir E Scott.

2 Rionnagan Rois.

3 Còisir Eilean an Fhraoich.

VOCAL SOLOS (FLUENT SPEAKERS)

C95 Girls (13-15) (An Comunn Gaidhealach Silver Medal)

1 Màiri Callan, The High School of Glasgow.

2 Elizabeth Donner, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

3 Marion MacCorquodale, Sgoil Lionacleit.

C96 Boys (13-15) (An Comunn Gaidhealach Silver Medal)

1 Samuel MacAoidh, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

2 Eòin Coinneach Cuimeanach, Àrd-sgoil Gheàrrloch.

3 Ruairidh Gray, Sgoil Lionacleit.

C145 Traditional: Girls (16-18) (Iain Morrison Memorial Trophy)

1 Catriona Bain, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

2 Kathryn Morrison, Sgoil Sir E Scott.

3 Cara Morrison, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

C94A Girls (13-15) (Traditional Silver Medal)

1 Màiri Callan, The High School of Glasgow.

2 (equal) Allison NicAoidh, Sgoil MhicNeacail, and Ava MacKinnon, Àrd-sgoil Greenfaulds.

C94B Boys (13-15) (Traditional Silver Medal)

1 Eòin Coinneach Cuimeanach, Àrd-sgoil Gheàrrloch.

2 Cathal Callan, The High School of Glasgow.

3 Rory MacDiarmid, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu.

C70Aii Girls (11-12)

1 Alice Nic a’ Mhaoilein, Còisir Òg an Rubha.

2 Erin Nic’Illiosa, Bun-sgoil Stafainn.

3 Laura Robertson, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Lochabair.

VOCAL SOLOS (FLUENT and LEARNERS)

C155 Girls (16-18) (Highland Society of London Trophy)

1 Catriona Bain, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

2 Claire MacLeod, Sgoil Sir E Scott.

3 Emily Robertson, Còisir Òg na h-Eaglais Brice.

C156 Boys (16-18) (Highland Society of London Trophy)

1 Alex John Moireasdan, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

2 Duncan Macleod, Acadamaidh Rìoghail Bhaile Dhuthaich.

3 Jonathan Fairgrieve, Sgoil MhicNeacail.


C171B Precenting a Psalm (Under 19) (Allan C. MacLeod Memorial Trophy)

1 Samuel MacAoidh, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

2 Catriona Bain, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

3 (equal) Lauren Matheson, Sgoil MhicNeacail, and Alex John Moireasdan, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

C171A (under 13) (Jonathan MacDonald, Kilmuir, Trophy)

1 Erin Nic’Illiosa, Clann Thròndairnis.

2 Ross MacLeòid, Clann Thròndairnis.

3 Megan NicÌomhair, Clann Thròndairnis.

DUETS (FLUENT SPEAKERS)

C144 (16-18)

1 Eilidh Macdonald & Anna Macdonald, Bun-sgoil Port Ilein.

2 Duncan Macleod & Rona MacLeod, Acadamaidh Rìoghail Bhaile Dhuthaich.

3 Alex John Moireasdan & Koren Murray Pickering, Sgoil MhicNeacail.

C97 (13-15)

1 Kirstyn Howarth & Faith Elson, Acadamaidh Rìoghail Inbhir Nis.

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