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Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005

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Title: Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005  
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Subject: Scottish Gaelic, 2005 in Scotland, Gaelic medium education in Scotland, Scottish Gaelic Renaissance, Scottish Gaelic language
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Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005

Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005
Long title An Act of the Scottish Parliament to establish a body having functions exercisable with a view to securing the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language, including the functions of preparing a national Gaelic language plan, of requiring certain public authorities to prepare and publish Gaelic language plans in connection with the exercise of their functions and to maintain and implement such plans, and of issuing guidance in relation to Gaelic education.
Chapter 2005 asp 7
Territorial extent Scotland
Royal Assent 1 June 2005
Commencement 13 February 2006[1]
Status: Current legislation

The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 (Scottish Gaelic: Achd na Gàidhlig (Alba) 2005) passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2005 is the first piece of legislation to give formal recognition to the Scottish Gaelic language.

The Gaelic Language Act aims to secure Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, "commanding equal respect" with English, by establishing Bòrd na Gàidhlig as part of the framework of government in Scotland and also requiring the creation of a national plan for Gaelic to provide strategic direction for the development of the Gaelic language. [Note: "The phrase 'equal respect' contains no clear meaning in the law. Its usage was chosen to prevent the assumption that the Gaelic language is in any way considered to have “equal validity or parity of esteem with English”.] [2]

The Act also gives Bòrd na Gàidhlig a key role in promoting Gaelic in Scotland, advising Scottish Ministers on Gaelic issues, driving forward Gaelic planning and preparing guidance on Gaelic education. The Act also provides a framework for the creation of Gaelic language plans by Scottish public authorities.

Former Education Minister Peter Peacock, who, at the time of the Act coming into force, had ministerial responsibility for Gaelic, said: "This is a momentous day for Gaelic as we open a new chapter in the language's history. We have come a long way since the dark days of 1616 when an Act of Parliament ruled that Gaelic should be 'abolishit and removit' from Scotland."[3]

A key limitation of the act is that it applies only to public bodies operating in Scotland and whose business is classed as being a devolved matter (outlined by the Scotland Act 1998).[4]

The National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17

"The Plan includes proposals for the promotion of strategies for increasing the number able to speak Gaelic, encouraging its use and facilitating access to Gaelic language and culture." The Plan addresses the following:

  • An increase in the acquisition and use of Gaelic by young people in the home and increased numbers of children

entering Gaelic-medium early years education.

  • An increase in the number of children enrolling in Gaelic-medium education (GME), doubling the current annual intake

to 800 by 2017.

  • A year on year increase in the number of pupils engaged in Gaelic-learner education (GLE) in both primary and secondary


  • An expansion in the availability of Gaelic-medium subjects in secondary schools.
  • An increase in the number of adults acquiring Gaelic from the current total of around 2,000 to 3,000 by 2017 and

enhanced language skills among fluent Gaelic speakers.

  • More opportunities for communities and networks of Gaelic speakers of all kinds to use Gaelic and increased use of the

language in community activities and services.

  • Expansion of the use of Gaelic in places of work and an increase in employment opportunities where Gaelic skills are

required in order to enable service delivery in the language.

  • Development of Gaelic arts and media as a means of promoting the language, attracting people to it and enhancing

their commitment through opportunities to learn, use and develop Gaelic.

  • An increased profile for Gaelic in the heritage and tourism sectors and increased use of Gaelic in the interpretation of

Scotland’s history and culture.

  • Co-ordination of the initiatives of parties active in Gaelic language corpus development to achieve enhanced strength,

relevance, consistency and visibility of the Gaelic language in Scotland. [5]

See also


  1. ^ Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 Commencement Order 2006, art. 2
  2. ^ McLeod, Wilson. "Gaelic in contemporary Scotland: contradictions, challenges and strategies". University of Edinburgh. p. 7. 
  3. ^ "Official Report".  
  4. ^ "Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 (s.10)".  
  5. ^ "National Gaelic Language Plan". 
  • "Report on the website of the Scottish Parliament". 

External links

  • Text of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database

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