The Gaelic Language Act
The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act was commenced on 13th February 2006 and it established Bòrd na Gàidhlig as a public body which is responsible for the preservation of Gaelic as an official language which enjoys the same respect as English in Scotland. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 received Royal assent on 1st June 2005.
The Act stipulates that Bòrd na Gàidhlig prepares a National Plan for Gaelic every 5 years, and that the Bòrd asks certain public bodies to prepare and implement a Gaelic language plan. It is part of the Bòrd's remit to give advice on matters relating to Gaelic Education, and to advise the Scottish Ministers on Gaelic matters.
The Act gives an official framework to the efforts to preserve and sustain the Gaelic language and culture, and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, in partnership with other organisations and people, is responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Act.
Under the terms of the Act, Bòrd na Gàidhlig's responsibilities include:
- to give advice to Scottish Ministers on Gaelic matters;
- to prepare and steer the National Plan for Gaelic;
- to give advice on Gaelic and Gaelic education in Scotland;
- to provide guidance to public bodies in Scotland on Gaelic language plans; and
- to monitor the implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and report the findings to the Scottish Ministers.
The National Plan for Gaelic
Under the Act, a National Plan for Gaelic guides Gaelic development and describes how Bòrd na Gàidhlig will meet its responsibilities. The Plan must be renewed at least every five years, and the Bòrd must seek people's opinions on a draft of the Plan, and must secure approval from the Scottish Ministers, before publishing each Plan.
Gaelic Language Plans
One of the key responsibilities of Bòrd na Gàidhlig under the Act is to ask certain public bodies to prepare and implement a Gaelic language plan.
There are a number of provisions in the Act which explain that Bòrd na Gàidhlig can, when appropriate and reasonable, ask a public body to draft and implement a Gaelic language plan. The Act also explains how Bòrd na Gàidhlig can assess how a public body is meeting the aims of its Gaelic language plan. Bòrd na Gàidhlig and public bodies can approach the Scottish Ministers when agreement cannot be reached on matters relating to Gaelic language plans and their implementation.
In a Gaelic language plan, the latest National Plan for Gaelic should be taken into account; and the extent to which Gaelic is used within, and in relation to, the work and services of the public body must be considered. Also any representations received on the use of Gaelic in relation to the work and services of the organisation must be considered, and advice given by the Scottish Ministers and Bòrd na Gàidhlig must be taken into account.