Scotland must take Euro chance for Gaelic

05 July 2006
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has today called on the UK government to support the use of Gaelic in Europe.

The call comes a day after the European Parliament agreed to allow people speaking Catalan, Basque or Galician to communicate with the EU in their own language. Previously they would have had to use Spanish.

The SNP believes the UK should push for similar rights for Gaelic speakers and SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an lar, Angus MacNeil, is to table a motion in the House of Commons calling for UK action. Mr Smith said

"The UK has consistently failed to argue for a voice for Gaelic speakers in the EU. It is a disgrace that when Catalans, Galicians and Basques are allowed to use their native tongue that option is not made available to Gaelic speakers.

"Last year I campaigned successfully in Europe to have the Gaelic language included in the Commission's Euro-pass scheme. To improve the recognition of Gaelic in the EU what we need to do is keep asking, and keep reminding people across the EU institutions that Gaelic is a European language and that it is part of the EU.

"The UK government has never shown any inclination to support Gaelic in Europe. Perhaps the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive will apply some pressure. I will be speaking with my SNP colleagues in Edinburgh to see what we can do to take advantage of this historic opportunity.

"Opening Europe up to Gaelic would not only boost the profile of Scotland's Gaelic areas within the EU, but it would also boost the profile of the EU within Scotland. This could be a really positive move - unfortunately I don't expect to see the London government doing a great deal about it."