Monday, 13 February 2006

An Lanntair

<![CDATA[ Today, the new Stornoway arts centre An Lanntair was officially opened by Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell. As per normal on these occasions, the centre was closed for opening. At 12.30, proceedings were opened by Cllr Angus McCormack, with speeches by the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar convener Alex MacDonald, Jim Tough from the Scottish Arts Council and the First Minister, Jack MacConnell.

South Beach, Stornoway - An Lanntair far right
The auditorium of An Lanntair
Angus McCormack, Jack McConnell on the rostrum, Jim Tough and Alex MacDonald

Today as well, the Gaelic Language Act was put on the statute book, which gives the language a formal place in Scottish life. After centuries of active neglect, Gaelic has now come into its own. What that place precisely is, is still the subject of debate. There is a fierce discussion going on in Sleat (South Skye) and Mallaig and Morar, across the water from Skye in Lochaber. This entails the provision of Gaelic-medium and English-medium primary school education. Whether it is the Morar or the Mallaig primary school that will go comprehensively Gaelic, and similarly across in Skye. The debate is fuelled by those residents who are not interested in giving their children a Gaelic medium education, and wish to have the option of an English language education.
I am casting my mind back to a speech by Inverness MSP John Farquhar Munro at the time of the first opening of An Lanntair, on October 1st, 2005. Having a new arts centre in the heart of Gaelic speaking Scotland is a very important stepping stone in the reinvigoration of the Gaelic language. I will add that this carries the greatest promise of fruit if all residents of the Highlands and Islands can be taken on board.

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