Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Gaelic Society of London

  1.  The Gaelic Society of London was established 225 years ago as a voluntary organisation to fight for the Gaelic language. It is no longer a proscribed language, but is struggling for its survival. The Government recently ratified the Treaty for lesser used European languages, but this along with various enquiries by the Scottish Executive do not appear to have offered enough to help keep the language sustainable. When identifying the question, "What is the Gaelic community?", the Scottish Executive's, Gaelic Broadcasting Task Force Report, described it as:

It comprises the 65,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, the substantially larger number who have some familiarity with the language including learners, and the much greater number who are interested in the culture associated with the language. Significantly, the new service would extend to the whole of the United Kingdom and while the core of the Gaelic community is obviously in Scotland, it is worth noting that a substantial audience of the Gaelic diaspora and of others who bear an interest in the language is to be found in the rest of the UK. One of the exciting challenges of digital broadcasting is that it allows the linking of that, otherwise disparate, community in a way that has never hitherto been possible. The internet offers further extension to the worldwide emigrant community.

  Gaelic is the oldest autochthonous language in the United Kingdom, and there is in our view, a danger of its demise. This would be a loss not only to the Gaelic community but to the richness of the UK as a whole.

  2.  The Gaelic Society of London would like to put its case for facilitating the possibility of a UK wide Gaelic television channel. The Society is appealing on behalf of the thousands of Gaelic speakers that live and work outside Scotland for access to a Gaelic broadcasting service. Our membership is mostly based in and around London, where it is estimated that the largest concentration of the Gaelic diaspora living in England reside.

  3.  We support the findings of the Scottish Executive's, Gaelic Broadcasting Task Force, sometimes referred to as the Milne Report.

  4.  We support the amendments to the Draft Communications Bill to be put before the Committee by the CCG, (Comataidh Craolaidh Gaidhlig/ Gaelic Broadcasting Committee). That the Bill be facilitative in allowing at a later date, the possibility of a dedicated television channel for Gaelic. That digital technology be embraced to help safeguard the future of Gaelic.

  5.  We would like to have an opportunity to put our case to the Committee, during its oral evidence stage.

June 2002

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