Gaelic aiming to get cool in 2010

GAELIC supporters have to find a way to make the language "cool" for youngsters if it is going to develop, according to a leading activist.

In his New Year message, Arthur Cormack, chairman of Bord na Gaidhlig, the national Gaelic development agency, said 2010 offers Gaelic some exciting possibilities but also some hard choices and plenty of challenges.

He said that over the last year the board has reduced the burden of bureaucracy on Gaelic organisations and built relationships with public bodies through the development of Gaelic Language Plans. Mr Cormack welcomed plans by Highland Council to build new Gaelic schools in Fort William and Skye.

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"These are important steps which are part of the Gaelic plans process," he said. "But a lot of work remains to be done on these projects in the next few months in particular, and also in other areas such as Edinburgh where the brd is actively supporting parents' calls for a Gaelic school."

Bord na Gaidhlig also plans to add its weight to calls for the Gaelic television channel BBC Alba, launched in 2008, to be broadcast on Freeview.

Mr Cormack said: "We want more people to have access to the programming to enable them to develop their Gaelic skills and awareness of the language."

He said it is encouraging to see an increase in the number of adults learning Gaelic, as well as more children attending Gaelic schools.

"All this is very well, but we know we have to pick up the pace and provide even more opportunities in both areas.

He added: "We have to find ways where it is cool and fashionable to be able to speak Gaelic.

"The language has also to be seen as a modern tool with employment opportunities and a role to play in the second decade of the 21st century."