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Driving Forward the Gaelic Language Plan (12/05/08)
Leugh sa Ghàidhlig
The Highland Council has appointed a new Gaelic Development Manager to spearhead its promotion of the Gaelic language and culture. He is Donald MacNeill, a native Gaelic speaker who has wide experience in the public sector and in the media. Brought up in Inverness within a Gaelic-speaking household. Donald was educated at Crown Primary School and Millburn Academy before going to Glasgow University.
He had a ten year career in broadcast journalism (1988-1998) – in both radio and television – the bulk of which was in Gaelic. This included working with BBC Radio nan Gaidheal (Inverness), Grampian Television (Aberdeen & Inverness) and Scottish Television (Glasgow).
Since then, Donald has gained experience of development working in the public sector within Highlands and Islands Enterprise, initially in press and public relations, but latterly promoting the case for investment in the area’s transport networks.
Donald said: “I am very much looking forward to getting to grips with this new role. There is no doubt that Gaelic is a fundamental part of what makes the Highlands different and special. It’s an integral part of the area’s heritage, but it’s also making a real contribution to the area’s economy and vibrancy in the 21st century. The Council’s Gaelic Language Plan has real potential to enhance the language’s status within the next three or four years.”
The need for statutory Gaelic Development plans flows from the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act of 2005 and The Highland Council was one of the first public bodies in the country to be charged with the requirement to produce a Plan. It is hoped this will be formally approved shortly allowing the development work to get underway. The Plan is far-reaching and is intended to cement and improve the role and use of Gaelic across all the Council’s services from education to road signs, or from promoting its use in the home and community to working to enhance its contribution to cultural activity and the arts.
Independent Councillor Hamish Fraser, Chairman of the Gaelic Committee, welcomed the appointment.
He said: “Mr MacNeill’s background and experience in both the media and public sectors makes him well qualified to take the plan forward on behalf of the Council, and he will be fully supported by the Gaelic Committee and council officers in implementing what is acknowledged to be a well balanced and achievable Plan. Mr MacNeill’s appointment further consolidates the Council’s commitment to supporting and promoting the language and culture of the Highlands with particular emphasis on the education system, our young people and our communities.”