Bòrd na Gàidhlig – Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee

Choimhead sinn le ùidh air coinneamh chomataidh-sgrùdaidh na pàrlamaid agus an còmhradh air riaghladh Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Mar bhuidheann saor-thoileach am measg an t-sluaigh ag iomairt airson coimhearsnachd na Gàidhlig, tha sinn a’ cur fàilte san fharsaingeachd air an sgrùdadh seo agus den bheachd gu bheil cruaidh fheum aig coimhearsnachd na Gàidhlig air ath-structaradh Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Gidheadh, bha grunn phuingean a nochd san chòmhradh air am biomaid airson freagairt a thoirt gu dìreach.

Tha e air leth cudromach dhuinn dùbhlan a thoirt dhan agartas gu bheil, ma dh’fhaoidte, rudeigin mì-laghail mu riatanas Bòrd na Gàidhlig gum bi Gàidhlig aig an luchd-obrach aca. Tha seo gu tur laghail is air dhearbhadh taobh na Cuimris, le Coimisean Co-ionnannachd is Còraichean nan Daoine ag aontachadh gu bheil dìon mion-shluaigh chànanaich a’ fìreanachadh is a’ ceadachadh leth-bhreith gu neo-dhìreach, deimhinneach. Mura ‘s urrainn do luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig an cànan aca a chleachdadh le agus taobh a-staigh Bòrd na Gàidhlig fhèin, bheir sin seachad teachdaireachd, nas motha na mì-riaghladh a’ Bhùird, a dhaingnicheas a’ chlaon-bhreith eachdraidheil nach e cànan na h-obrach no cànan adhartais a th’ anns a’ Ghàidhlig. Chleachdar leth-bhreith deimhinneach gu tric gus iomadachd chinnidheach is ghnè a bhrosnachadh agus chan eil dìon mion-shluagh cànanach, na Gàidheil, eadar-dhealaichte. Tha Gàidhlig riatanach do dh’obair a’ Bhùird, agus airson gach obair, gu nàdarra, tha sgilean riatanach gan toirt seachad, cànan, teisteanas, eòlas is eile.

Air a’ phuing mu sgilean nan luchd-obrach ceangailte ris a’ phoileasaidh seo, tha e fada nas fhasa sgilean agus trèanadh a thoirt do dhaoine aig a bheil Gàidhlig na tha e Gàidhlig ionnsachadh do dhaoine aig a bheil sgilean freagarrach. Bhiomaid a’ brosnachadh cuideam fada nas motha air trèanadh luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig gus na dreuchdan riatanach seo aig a’ Bhòrd a choileanadh, an àite còmhradh sam bith air daoine gun Ghàidhlig a chur air a’ Bhòrd. Chaidh cuideigin gun Ghàidhlig fhastadh leis a’ Bhòrd roimhe is ‘s e adhbhar connspaid mhòir a bh’ ann a rinn tòrr gus cur ris an fhaireachdainn nach robh am Bòrd a’ riochdachadh choimhearsnachdan na Gàidhlig.

Gun teagamh, bu chòir Bòrd na Gàidhlig ath-structaradh, le co-chomhairleachadh poblach ga chumail air cruth an ath-structaraidh seo agus comhairle eòlaiche sòiseo-chànanaiche ga sireadh gu h-eadar-nàiseanta. Tha dùil an-dràsta gun dèan am Bòrd na bu chòir a bhith ga mheasadh mar thrì gnìomhan fa-leth.  ‘S e buidheann leasachaidh a th’ ann, ag obair le buidhnean coimhearsnachd gus pròiseactan coimhearsnachd is cultarach a leasachadh, ‘s e buidheann planaidh is poileasaidh a th’ ann, a’ comhairleachadh is a’ cuideachadh buidhnean poblach ann a bhith a’ cruthachadh Phlanaichean Gàidhlig, agus ‘s e buidheann riaghailteachaidh a th’ ann, ag ath-bhreithneachadh is a’ sgrùdadh Phlanaichean Gàidhlig is phoileasaidhean foghlaim. Tha còmhstri nàdarra do-sheachanta eadar na gnìomhan seo, leis a’ Bhòrd eu-comasach neo aindeonach an ròl riaghailteachaidh aige a choileanadh thoradh air na dleastanasan eile a tha air, a thaobh uallachadh is maoineachadh Phlanaichean Gàidhlig. Bu chòir buidheann riaghailteachaidh fa-leth a chur air dòigh san chruth Coimiseanair Chànain, an structar àbhaisteach ann an dùthchannan eile, le cumhachdan reachdail nas làidire planaichean Gàidhlig a mheasadh is a sparradh air buidhnean poblach, a’ gabhail a-steach càintean is smachd-bhannan eile. Bu chòir cuideachd Achd na Gàidhlig a leudachadh gus an toir e a-steach cuid de chompanaidhean prìobhaideach, gam feumachdainn Planaichean Gàidhlig uallachadh, gu sònraichte na luchd-fastaidh as motha sna sgìrean a bhruidhneas Gàidhlig, buidhnean bun-ghoireasan, bancaichean agus bùithtean mòra.

Tha faireachdainn mhòr dhomhainn san choimhearsnachd Ghàidhlig nach eil am Bòrd gan riochdachadh no a’ tuigsinn nan dùbhlan ro na coimhearsnachdan luchd-labhairt dùthchasail mu dheireadh sna h-eileanan. Tha sinne làidir den bheachd gum bu chòir prìomh-oifis Bhòrd na Gàidhlig a ghluasad chun nan Eilean Siar far an toireadh na h-obraichean àrd-ìre sin le deagh thuarastalan buaidh mhòr mhòr air na coimhearsnachdan eileanach iomallaichte seo a dh’fhulang cion ghoireasan cho fada. Chan eil a’ phrìomh-oifis ann an Inbhir Nis a’ fàgail a’ Bhùird faisg gu leòr air an Riaghaltas, no faisg gu leòr nas motha air na coimhearsnachdan Gàidhlig a bu chòir dhaibh a bhith a’ riochdachadh. ‘S e taigh leathach slighe a th’ ann nach eil a’ sàsachadh ro-innleachd fharsaing sam bith. Le airgead maoineachaidh Ghàidhlig cho teann, feumar dèanamh cinnteach gun tèid gach sgillinn a chosg cho èifeachdach sa ghabhas gus Gàidhlig bheò labhairteach làitheil a ghlèidheadh. ‘S ann anns na h-Eileanan Siar a tha na coimhearsnachdan mu dheireadh far a bheil seo againn agus feumaidh Bòrd na Gàidhlig agus Riaghaltas na h-Alba taic fada nas motha a chumail riutha gu cabhagach agus gu dealasach ma tha àm ri teachd seasmhach gu bhith aig a’ chànan.

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We watched with interest the meeting of the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee and their discussion of the governance of Bòrd na Gàidhlig. As a grass roots voluntary organisation campaigning for the Gaelic speaking community, we broadly welcome this scrutiny and feel that the Gaelic community urgently needs a restructuring of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

There were a number of points raised during the discussion that we would like to respond to directly.

It is very important to us to challenge the assertion made during the meeting that there might be anything unlawful about Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s requirement for staff to be Gaelic speaking. This is entirely legal and has been tested in relation to Welsh language provision, where more far reaching policies are in place, with the Equality and Human Rights Commission agreeing that the protection of a linguistic minority justifies positive discrimination towards that minority group. If Gaelic speakers can’t use their language with and within Bòrd na Gàidhlig it sends a signal, which more than any poor governance practices at the Bòrd, reinforces the historical prejudice that Gaelic is not a language of work or advancement. Positive discrimination is widely used to encourage gender and ethnic diversity and the protection of an indigenous ethno-linguistic minority, Gaels, is no different to this. Gaelic is essential to the work of the Bòrd, and for every job there is, naturally, a list of essential skills, language, qualification, experience, etc.

On the point about skill sets related to this policy, it is far easier for skills and training to be given to speakers of Gaelic than it is for individuals with appropriate skills to learn Gaelic. We would therefore encourage far greater emphasis to be placed on training Gaelic speakers to fulfil these essential roles at the Bòrd, than for there to be any discussion on hiring non-Gaelic speakers. A non-Gaelic speaker was previously hired by the Bòrd, something that was hugely controversial within the Gaelic community and did much to fuel the feeling that the Bòrd is failing to represent the Gaelic speaking communities.1

Bòrd na Gàidhlig should undoubtedly be restructured, with a public consultation held on the form of this restructuring and expert socio-linguistic advice sought internationally. The Bòrd is currently expected to perform what should be viewed as two or three separate functions. It is a development body, working with community groups to develop and fund community and cultural projects, it is a planning and policy body, advising and assisting other public bodies in drawing up Gaelic Language Plans, and it is regulatory body, reviewing and enforcing Gaelic Language Plans and Education Policies. There is an intrinsic conflict of interest between these roles, with the Bòrd unable or unwilling to properly fulfil its regulatory role due to its own involvement in preparing and funding Gaelic Language Plans. A separate regulatory body should be established in the form of a Gaelic Language Commissioner with stronger statutory powers to enforce language plans of public bodies, including by means of fines and other sanctions. The Gaelic Language Act should also be extended to cover certain private sector companies, requiring them to produce Gaelic language plans, specifically significant employers in Gaelic-speaking areas, utilities firms, banks and supermarkets.

There is huge depth of feeling within the Gaelic community that the Bòrd doesn’t represent them nor understand the challenges faced by the last indigenous speaker communities in the Islands. We strongly believe that Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s headquarters office should be relocated to the Western Isles where high profile and highly paid Gaelic jobs would have an enormously beneficial impact on these marginalised and under-resourced island communities. The current Inverness headquarters leaves the Bòrd neither close enough to the Government nor close enough to the communities they represent. It is a halfway house that satisfies no overall strategy. With funding so limited in relation to Gaelic, we must ensure that every penny spent is used to greatest efficiency in preserving the language as a living spoken vernacular. The last communities where this is the case are in the Western Isle and these must be supported with much greater urgency and commitment by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Government if the language is to have a sustainable future.

Comments (5)

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  1. Alasdair MacThòmais says:

    Largely agree with the above. However the quite phenomenal take-up of Duolingo Gaelic could be interpreted as a bit of a wake-up call (and perhaps a criticism) of the Bòrd. What it demonstrates is a widespread enthusiasm for learning the language – far wider than anyone could have anticipated. Why was the Bòrd not aware of this?

  2. Clare Galloway says:

    What many people in Scotland aren’t appreciating (and possibly can’t appreciate), is that what is lost with a language is deep and affecting: the identity of a culture is profoundly dependent on particularly an indigenous language, with all that a mother tongue holds in relation to embodied wisdom, shared experience, wholistic worldview and connection with land, season, nature.

    Just because a language is no longer spoken widely – just because it has been oppressed powerfully and efficiently, doesn’t mean that it isn’t vital to the vitality of the whole nation.
    Gàidhlig is vital all the more so in a time where we’re collectively learning our own history for the first time, uncovering the truth behind the smoke and mirrors of mainstream media and political game-playing, and learning what a completely different reality from our neighbours we want to make.
    Our sense of self and of communal purpose is immensely enriched by our occupying fully not just the words of our mother tongue, but its spirit and connectedness, presence and vibration.

    We live in an age where we’re just beginning to understand the power and value globally of native languages being heard, being supported to speak truths and perspectives that our modernised, compartmentalised mind rarely has the capacity to imagine by itself.

    The privileged abuse of power by the English-speaking , supports the perverse ‘logic’ of capitalism and growth at all costs, austerity and disenfranchisement/ annihilation of the poor and the natural, and the compartmentalisation of mind from body and spirit, from community, and from the environment.

    There is SO MUCH MORE to be explored in relation to Gàidhlig’s necessary place at the heart of our culture, which I hope our Bòrd will restructure, reposition and recharge itself to guide us through.

    And absolutely we should be looking to other cultures who are more successful guardians to their mother tongues: this is a powerful interview with Tiokasing Ghosthorse of the Lakota tribe, speaking to the importance of his mother tongue’s worldview: https://soundcloud.com/earthconversations/tiokasinghosthorse

    1. Màrtainn Mac a' Bhàillidh says:

      Tapadh leat Clare, excellent comment.

      1. Clare Galloway says:

        ‘S e ur beatha, Màrtainn 🙂 I’m so glad to be contributing to the discourse – there is so much to be unravelled and rejuvenated, reclaimed and expanded.

  3. Graeme Purves says:

    This seems to me to be a very sound piece of commentary on the current situation, with some excellent, practical recommendations.

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