SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT – CROSS PARTY GROUP ON GAELIC Minute of the meeting of the Cross Party Group on Gaelic, held in the Scottish Parliament Building, Holyrood, Edinburgh on Wednesday 25th March 2009 at 1.00pm. Present: John F. Munro MSP (Convener); Archie Maclean, (Secretary); Cllr Biz Campbell (Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd); Iain MacDonald (Comann nam Parant); John MacLeod (An Comunn Gaidhealach), Margaret Lobban (Fàs & Am Bothan); Mata MacIomhair (UHI); Ceitidh Mhoireach (Am Bothan); Norma Martin (City of Edinburgh Council); David Thompson MSP; Allan MacRae (PPC Lib Dem); Marc Mac an Fhilidh (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba); Cllr Hamish Fraser (Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd). 1 Welcome & Apologies John F Munro MSP, Convener of the Group welcomed all present to the meeting. He extended a special welcome to Allan MacRae who was the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats in Ross, Cromarty and Skye. Apologies had been received from: Rob Gibson MSP; D. J. MacIntyre; Alasdair Allan MSP (Vice Convener); Donald Weir (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar); Dòmhnall MacGille-mhoire (Bòrd na Gàidhlig); Alasdair MacCallum (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba); Douglas Ansdell (Riaghaltas na h-Alba); Rosemary Ward (Bòrd na Gàidhlig); Alison Lang (MG Alba);Martainn Mac an t-Saoir (Coimhearsnachd Ghàidhlig Dhun Eideann); Agnes Rennie (C.N.E.S.). 2 Minute of Meeting of 28 January 2009 The minute of meeting of 28 January was approved. 3 Matters Arising 3(i) BBC Alba/Freeview A letter had been sent to the BBC Trust expressing the Cross Party Group’s disappointment that many Gaelic-speaking viewers did not have access to the service and demanding that the channel be made available on Freeview immediately. A response had been received from Sir Micheal Lyons, Chair of the BBC Trust, indicating that the review of the service would now commence later in 2009, rather than in 2010 as had previously been planned. The Group felt that the wider Gaelic community be encouraged to express their support for the new service, either through a letter writing campaign, or by raising a petition. Highland Council had also written to the Trust expressing their displeasure with the current situation and urging them to review the proposed timetable. 3(ii) Gaelic at Railway Stations A reply had been received from Transport Scotland regarding their intention to develop bilingual signage on railway stations, rolling stock and printed materials. The Group welcomed this development. 3(iii) Gaelic Organisations’ Use of Scottish Parliament Building Following difficulties regarding a request from CLI Gaidhlig to hold their AGM within the Scottish Parliament it was agreed to write to the Events Co-ordinator to express the Cross Party Group’s displeasure and to explore whether there was any way around this. This had been actioned and the Group awaited a reply. 4 Updates from Members (i) Iomairtean Cànain – Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) Archie Maclean, Chief Executive of CnaG led a discussion regarding community language initiatives being taken forward across Scotland. These initiatives were broadly based on a Welsh language development model – Menter Iaith, which has been successful in increasing the number of Welsh speakers. Mr. Maclean outlined how these initiatives would be taken forward, involving a high level of co-operation between organisations based in the target communities, including local councils, Gaelic agencies, development agencies and national organisations. The Iomairtean Gàidhlig would focus on particular projects which would increase the use of the language amongst young people, in schools, colleges, in sport, the arts and in business. The Iomairt Gàidhlig Officer would act as a catalyst for change in the community. They would work with a local Steering Group to implement priorities identified by that Group. Mr. Maclean outlined the current situation regarding the Iomairtean Gàidhlig and future plans for their development. The Chair thanked Mr. Maclean for his presentation. This was followed by a wide ranging discussion on issues arising from the presentation. (ii) Bilingual Road Signage Highland Council had raised their concerns that anecdotal evidence had been used to justify a review of bilingual road signage, which would take three years to complete. They had hoped that this issue had been resolved long ago. The Group were assured by MSP’s that the review would be completed much sooner than the three years initially envisaged and that the Minister for Gaelic was fully supportive of bilingual road signage. There were no further updates from Members. 5 AOCB (i) The Group had contacted the University of Strathclyde to enquire as to whether the post of Head of Gaelic Teacher Education, which had recently been made vacant with the departure of Dr. Boyd Robertson to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, was likely to be advertised in the near future. A reply was awaited. (ii) Gaelic in the Church – Dr. Mata MacIomhair updated the Group regarding the development of Gaelic language modules for delivery through Highland Theological College as part of the B.A in Theology programme. The Group welcomed this development. As an important part of the Gaelic community, it was crucial that the church was supported to maintain provision through the language. There was no further competent business 6 Date of Next Meeting The next meeting would be held on Wednesday 29 April at 12.30 for 1.00pm start.