Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)
Meeting date: Thursday, October 27, 2022
Official Report 1121KB pdf
Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Royal National Mòd 2022 (Perth), Portfolio Question Time, Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry Chair, Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Decision Time, Corrections
- General Question Time
- First Minister’s Question Time
- Royal National Mòd 2022 (Perth)
- Portfolio Question Time
- Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry Chair
- Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1
- Decision Time
Royal National Mòd 2022 (Perth)
I ask those who are in the public gallery, who came along to hear our proceedings, to leave the chamber quickly and quietly, because we are now moving on to our next item of business.
The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S6M-05734, in the name of Murdo Fraser, on the Mòd coming back to Perth. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.
Headphones are available at the back of the chamber for members who wish to listen to simultaneous interpretation of contributions to the debate in Gaelic. Members who are listening to our proceedings on BlueJeans will hear the simultaneous interpretation.
That the Parliament congratulates the Royal National Mòd on its decision to return to Perth, which it understands will be its 10th visit to the city; notes that the Mòd will take place in Perth from 14 to 22 October 2022; further notes that the estimated economic benefit to the area from the Mòd is understood to be between £2.5 million and £3.5 million; praises the activities of An Comunn Gàidhealach, which support and promote the Scottish Gaelic language and culture at local, national and international levels, and welcomes ongoing support from public bodies for Gaelic.
The member has provided the following translation:
Gu bheil a’ Phàrlamaid a’ cur meal-a-naidheachd air a’ Mhòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail air a cho-dhùnadh gus tilleadh a Pheairt, agus i a’ tuigsinn gur e seo an 10mh turas aige don chathair-bhaile; gu bheil i a’ toirt fa-near gum bi am Mòd a’ tachairt ann am Peairt eadar 14 agus 22 Dàmhair 2022; gu bheil i a’ toirt fa-near cuideachd gu bheilear a’ tuigsinn gum bi buannanchd eaconamach thuairmsichte eadar £2.5 agus £3.5 millean ann; gu bheil i a’ moladh obair a’ Chomainn Ghàidhealaich, a tha a’ cumail taic ri agus a’ brosnachadh na Gàidhlig agus a cultair aig ìrean ionadail, nàiseanta agus eadar-nàiseanta, agus gu bheil i a’ cur fàilte air taic leantainneach don Ghàidhlig bho bhuidhnean poblach.12:52
I thank all members from across the chamber who signed my motion, which has allowed the debate to take place this afternoon.
As colleagues will be aware, the Royal National Mòd is an annual event that celebrates the best of Gaelic music and culture. This year’s Mòd took place over the course of last week in the city of Perth, where I live and which I have the honour of representing as part of the Mid Scotland and Fife region. It was the first time that the Mòd had been held in Perth since 2004, and I remember attending events on that previous occasion. Following the Covid restrictions, this year’s event was the first full in-person Mòd that had been held in three years, and it was very well supported.
The event closed on Saturday outside Perth Concert Hall with a massed choir event in which more than 1,000 people took part. Although I was not able to be present, I hear that it was a very impressive occasion.
Over the course of the nine-day event in Perth, about 2,100 participants took part in a total of 200 competitions. The event brought a substantial economic boost to Perth. About 7,000 people are thought to have visited the city, and that added up to a significant financial contribution—in excess of £1 million—to the local economy. The wide appeal of the Mòd was also shown by thousands of people, including those from overseas who were watching events online.
James Graham, the chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, described the joy of having Gaels once again able to showcase their language and culture, and he praised Perth for its
“fantastic venues, welcoming community and picturesque streets”.
There was not a hotel room to be had anywhere in the city, and bars and restaurants were buzzing with performers, their families, and spectators. It was a great occasion for Perth and the surrounding area.
One of the many participants in the Mòd was Councillor John Duff, who, as well as being the Conservative group leader on Perth and Kinross Council, is the council’s Gaelic-medium education champion. John sang as part of the Aberfeldy Gaelic choir, and anyone who knows him will recognise what a fine singing voice he has.
I know that Councillor Duff is keen to see Perth become a regular venue for the Mòd, and I hope that Perth and Kinross Council will support that. I understand that he is bringing a motion to the council to that effect in the very near future. All the feedback that I have heard from last week suggests that the event venues, the accommodation and the general ambience of the city make Perth a very attractive place to host the Mòd again in the near future.
The Mòd is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, a charity that was established in Oban in 1891 and which ran the very first Mòd there the following year. The organisation exists to promote Gaelic language and culture, and the Mòd is its annual showcase. An Comunn is supported by a small annual grant from Bòrd na Gàidhlig of about £100,000. Given the importance of the Mòd to Gaelic culture, I hope that the annual grant will be at least maintained if not increased. Indeed, I believe that there is a strong case for Creative Scotland to look at how events such as the Mòd can be supported better in the future. It is, as I mentioned earlier, an event that has an international audience, and it is an excellent way of promoting Scotland around the world, so I hope that Creative Scotland will see it in that light.
All this comes at a time when there are real concerns about the future of the Gaelic language. Recent figures suggest that there has been a decline in the number of Gaelic speakers. Although we have seen an expansion of Gaelic-medium education in recent years—it is popular with parents in many parts of the country—many schools struggle to recruit suitably qualified teachers, and some local authorities are reluctant to introduce Gaelic-medium education even where there is demand from parents. I would like the Scottish Government to consider what additional support it could give to local authorities to encourage the development of Gaelic-medium education.
I know that there are some on the fringes of Scottish politics who believe that we should not be supporting Gaelic. That is certainly not my view, nor is it the view of my party. Indeed, the then Scottish Office under Michael Forsyth had an excellent record of supporting Gaelic, back in the 1990s, with financial support creating the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee, which led to the launch of BBC Alba. Subsequent Governments have supported Gaelic in different ways, but it is clear that there is much more to be done, given the state of the language at present.
Although events such as the Mòd are excellent showcases of Gaelic language and culture, I do not want Gaelic to become a language that is restricted just to the arts. If Gaelic is to have a future, it has to be the language of the school, the home and the workplace. That will require significant leadership from government and public agencies at all levels. Simply rebranding public service vehicles and erecting Gaelic road signs will be no more than gestures if the number of Gaelic speakers across Scotland continues to decline. That challenge needs to be addressed urgently.
The Mòd will move to Paisley next year, and I hope that it will be every bit as much a success there as it has been in Perth over the past week. A survey of those attending the Lochaber Mòd in 2017 found that 93 per cent of respondents agreed that it made a significant or very significant contribution to having the opportunity to use Gaelic, while 94 per cent of respondents agreed that the Mòd made a significant or very significant contribution to learning to speak Gaelic. That demonstrates the importance of the annual event to what is such a significant part of Scottish heritage and culture, and I hope that the Mòd will go from strength to strength in future years. Mòran taing—thank you—Presiding Officer.12:59
I congratulate Murdo Fraser on securing the debate. His motion recognises the importance of the Royal National Mòd and Gaelic to Scotland’s economy and culture.
I, too, congratulate An Comunn Gàidhealach for its fantastic work to support and promote the Scottish Gaelic language and culture at local, national and international levels. Gaelic language and culture are at the heart of Scotland, and the Mòd exemplifies that. It mixes song, music, poetry, art and storytelling—there is something for everyone. It provides a place for folk to meet and compete, learn and teach, laugh and cry and, perhaps, even put the world to rights over a wee dram. It is about people making connections through culture.
I have been to many Mòds. I have never been a competitor, unlike my colleague Dr Allan. I was always very much behind the scenes, working for BBC Scotland’s Gaelic department, which provides comprehensive television and radio coverage of the festival. The 1994 Mòd in Dunoon, which is in my constituency, was my first. At the eight or so other Mòds that I have been to, I have driven winners to locations to be filmed for “Dè a-nis?”, sat in numerous competitions from choir competitions to Bible reading ones, laughed at action songs and perhaps even put the world to rights over a couple of drams.
I will share the Mòd memories of a good friend of mine, Jake McMillan. We were reminiscing and sharing Perth Mòd memories when we met on Islay 10 days ago. Jake grew up on Islay and was a member of the Ardbeg junior choir. The Mòd was always looked on as a big adventure. That was possibly more to do with the chance of exploring the local Woolworths than showing off his singing skills.
At the Perth Mòd in 1963, the Ardbeg junior choir entered the action song, which was a pretty new concept at that time. The choir had much fun raiding their parents’ clothes for bodach hats and scarves and cailleach shawls. Everyone was given specific parts in the wee play that coloured the Gaelic song “Buain na Rainich” or “Cutting the Bracken”.
Jake does not remember much about the competition apart from winning, which he says was despite their Islay Gaelic. His one vivid memory is of the evening children’s concert at the old Perth city hall, which was televised. Jake was fascinated by the large television camera with a wire coming out of it being wheeled in and out in front of the stage. Who could have predicted back then that the wee Lagavulin balach would end up back in that hall 41 years later, in 2004, as the BBC engineering manager in charge of all the technical aspects of getting on air the Gaelic transmissions for that year’s Mòd?
As I mentioned, in 1963, the Ardbeg junior choir won. I am very pleased to say that, this year, Argyll and Bute’s performers have done well, too. The Oban Gaelic Choir won the prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine shield, and I note the achievements of the Gaelic learners from Argyll and Bute in Monday’s competitions. In the inaugural year of the Highland art prize, which was judged by BBC Alba presenter and Islay’s own Heather Dewar, David Page of Mull won with his artwork “Drift”. However the Mòd is so much more than winning: it is a celebration of culture and language that is at the heart of Scotland.
I am pleased that the Scottish Government continues its support for the Gaelic language and culture. I take the opportunity to add my support to the calls of parents in my constituency for a Gaelic-medium school in Oban. The numbers exist for that and a public study shows that there is great community support. I ask the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture if he could speak with his colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and get her to agree in principle that Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Argyll and Bute Council should work together to produce a plan for a school in the lifetime of the council’s Gaelic plan.
As I have previously said in the chamber, children are our future, but they are also our here and now. They are integral to Gaelic language and culture. There is nothing more thrilling and emotional than hearing the Gaelic anthem “Cànan nan Gàidheal”—“The Language of the Gaels”—sung by the Gaelic choirs of the Mòd. We must continue to celebrate and support the language.13:04
Following protocol but with absolute sincerity, I congratulate my colleague Murdo Fraser on bringing the motion to the chamber for debate.
I had hoped to start off my speech in the beautiful, dulcet tones of the Gaelic language, but, after many days of trying and failing—and providing continual amusement to my husband—I concluded that I should not offend the people I was attempting to praise.
I am delighted to join in the congratulations for Perth and Kinross Council, the organisers, An Comunn Gàidhealach and all the participants in the Royal National Mòd for a fantastic display of all things Gaelic.
This year’s Mòd was the 10th time that Perth has hosted the festivities. That number has been surpassed only by Glasgow, Inverness and its traditional home of Oban.
The cultural experience that Perth offers focuses on Scotland, as it sits in the country’s metaphorical and geographical heart—a fact that is highlighted by the work that was done to regenerate Perth city hall into a modern museum of Scottish history, which will become the permanent residence of the stone of destiny. I think that we can agree that that is a fitting legacy for the blend of traditional and contemporary that we want to see in a thriving, modern Scotland.
I was an administration councillor in Perth and Kinross Council when it was bidding for the event, and I was delighted when it was awarded to the council. I know how much work was put in by the officers and staff in the council, as well as the support and backing that was given by the then council leader to secure the festivities. I once again congratulate everyone on the sterling effort that was put in to make it happen.
I am sorry to have to admit that, when the process was going through the award stages, I was ignorant of the full extent of the Royal National Mòd. My knowledge of Gaelic and Scots was entirely based on my experiences in my formative years, and, unfortunately, watching “Thingummyjig” and reruns of “The White Heather Club”, playing Strathspeys and reels on the fiddle and learning to dance male parts at Scottish country dancing, because I was tall and the class had a distinct lack of boys—an issue that made for an interesting first dance at my wedding, but that is another story—hardly provided a comprehensive education on the subject.
As much as we have experienced the joys and delights that have been mentioned, I want to highlight a concern that was raised by the president of An Comunn Gàidhealach regarding the number of young entrants this year. The repercussions of Covid restrictions have again raised their ugly head. The lingering uncertainties of Covid—teachers and pupils not attending school buildings, choirs not being able to meet and practice, and the overall reductions in sports and other activities at that time—have created a general drop in attendance that, unfortunately, has meant a drop in young participants. It would be a travesty if numbers continued to decline. I echo the sentiments of the president, and I sincerely hope that the success of the Mòd in Perth will inspire young people to come back and that it will encourage more young people to try shinty, learn the fiddle, sing in a choir or learn Gaelic—I just hope that they manage to do it better than I did.
It is important that we continue to support our traditional languages—Gaelic, Doric and Scots—and I praise the efforts that are being made to get more people, especially young people, to take up those languages. Conversation is paramount to language survival. We must keep promoting those skills if we are to have any hope of preserving our traditional tongue for future generations, and I join my colleagues in urging the Scottish Government to do all that it can to keep that going.
As we have heard, the Mòd will be held in Paisley next year. I wish the organisers all the best, and I sincerely hope to see increased numbers of young people taking that legacy forward.13:08
I thank Murdo Fraser for bringing this debate to the chamber, and I join him in welcoming the return of the Royal National Mòd to Perth earlier this month—the 10th time that it has been hosted in the city.
Perthshire has a sizeable Gaelic culture that is demonstrated not only by the number of traditional groups, musicians and singers in the city, but by the countless community and educational groups that are working to inspire future generations of music lovers and performers to carry on those traditions.
Returning to Perth for the first time in 18 years, the eight-day festival included 200 competitions and other events celebrating the Gaelic language, music and culture, encompassing traditional instruments, singing, poetry, storytelling, sport, literature and film. Since the city last hosted the Mòd, we have seen the refurbishment of Perth theatre, the reopening of a new outdoor performance space at St Paul’s church and the opening of Perth concert hall, which, alongside a number of other city venues, showcased performances by competitors and hosted visitors from across the world.
Alongside the competitive events, the fringe programme offered a diverse programme, including workshops, ceilidhs, music sessions, open stages and literature events, demonstrating that, beyond the competitive disciplines, there was much to offer people of all ages, whether they were lifelong Gaelic speakers or people who were just looking to find out more about this cultural celebration.
Often, when we think about celebrating Gaelic culture, our thoughts immediately turn to music, which the Mòd showcases well, from choir competitions to the celebration of traditional bands. For those who were unable to attend in person, a line-up of fantastic singers took part in free and informal online song sessions throughout the week. We also saw performances and competitions across dance, sport and literature, alongside fringe events such as concerts and a shinty fixture. It really was an inclusive and welcoming celebration.
Although it celebrates the traditional, the Mòd also works to promote Gaelic language and culture through new routes, as was demonstrated this year through the use of TikTok to showcase comedy and other video formats in Gaelic. This year also saw the presentation of the first Highland art prize, which celebrates another aspect of Gaelic culture, with the winner, David Page, sharing his prize with his local art organisation to support local participation in art.
Although, in recent years, the Mòd has begun to attract a younger audience, the ability to appeal to new generations of Gaels and to engage with its potential audience in new and different ways will be important to its continuing success. I am hopeful that, in coming years, we will see its reach widen further.
Over the eight days of its programme, the Mòd celebrated not only Gaelic language and culture, but the city of Perth itself, with 14 venues hosting thousands of competitors and visitors throughout the event. Such large events are important to the local economy not only in bringing significant economic benefit to the area, but in showcasing to a wider audience what Perth has to offer. They can provide valuable opportunities to connect and share experiences, create memories and celebrate friendships old and new. Locals and visitors alike have spoken of the vibrant atmosphere in Perth during the Mòd and the great sense of community demonstrated in the work of staff and volunteers from across Perth and Kinross who helped to make the event a success.
I was interested to hear other members’ comments on learning the Gaelic language. I say to Roz McCall that I understand that Duolingo now offers Gaelic as one of its languages, so there are new ways to learn and pick up some bits of Gaelic. Someone mentioned children’s TV. I remember that, when “Dòtaman” came on, my niece used to watch it. Everyone then learned “mun cuairt mun cuairt a Dhotomain Bhig” and various other wee bits and pieces of Gaelic, so it was quite effective to have that on mainstream television.
Although the work of the Scotland Office has been highlighted in the debate, the Scottish Parliament has provided an important focus for promoting and scrutinising Government support for Gaelic. I know that the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee focuses on BBC Alba and recognises the financial pressures that it is under, along with many other broadcasters.
I welcome the boost to tourism that hosting the Royal National Mòd has brought to Perth and the opportunity that staging it provided to show what the city has to offer. The eight days were a huge success and a joyful celebration of Gaelic language and culture. I congratulate all participants, staff and volunteers who contributed to the Royal National Mòd in 2022 and send my best wishes to Paisley for an equally successful event next year.
I call Alasdair Allan, to be followed by Donald Cameron. I advise members that Dr Allan will speak in Gaelic. Members who wish to hear the simultaneous translation should plug their headphones into their console.
You have around four minutes, Dr Allan.
With your permission, Presiding Officer, may I check that members know which channel to use?
I will seek to clarify that. I am told that it is channel 1.13:13
Tapadh leibhse gu Murchadh Friseal airson dèanamh cinnteach gun deach an deasbad seo a chumail anns a’ Phàrlamaid an-diugh.
Agus meal-an-naidheachd air Baile Mòr Pheairt, a chuir fàilte cho cridheil air a’ Mhòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail am-bliadhna. An-dràsda, feumaidh mi m’ ùidh fhèin a chlàradh sa chuspair seo. Bha mise a’ seinn ann am Peairt aig a’ Mhòd am-bliadhna-sa. Mar as àbhaist, bha e na thlachd dhomh pàirt a ghabhail anns na co-fharpaisean le còisir às a’ choimhearsnachd agam fhèin, Còisir Sgìr’ a’ Bhac ann an Leòdhas. Bha sinn glè thoilichte leis na duaisean a fhuair sin. Mealaibh-an-naidheachd cuideachd, bu chòir dhomh a ràdh, air a h-uile duine a bha a’ gabhail pàirt anns a’ Mhòd an t-seachdain ’s a a chaidh.
Bidh am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail a’ toirt saoghal na Gàidhlig ri chèile ann an dòigh shònraichte. ’S e riochdachadh mòr a th’ anns a’ Mhòd air de cho beartach ’s a tha ar cultar agus ar cànan, tro na farpaisean seinn, bàrdachd, ealain, sgeulachd, dràma, ciùil, dannsa agus iomadach rud eile gach bliadhna.
Bidh am Mòd Nàiseanta a’ sealltainn ar cultar do na diofar choimhearsnachdan air am bi an fhèis a’ tadhal gach bliadhna agus an cothrom aig Alba air fad na farpaisich as fheàrr fhaicinn tro sheachdain a’ Mhòid air an telebhisean no an cluinntinn air an rèidio.
Bha a h-uile duine a tha an sàs ann an saoghal a’ Mhòid—na farpaisich air fad agus an luchd-èisteachd cuideachd—ag ionndrainn a’ Mhòid gu mòr bho 2019, ged a bha tachartasan a’ gabhail àite air-loidhne anns an eadar-ama. Bha e cho math tighinn còmhla anns an aon àite airson a’ Mhòid a-rithist am-bliadhna, agus mealaibh-an-naidheachd dhan Chomunn Ghàidhealach airson na rinn sibh gus Mòd 2022 a dhèanamh cho soirbheachail.
Mur eil mòran eòlais agaibh air dè th’ anns a’ Mhòd Nàiseanta agus cho dèidheil ’s a tha mòran Ghàidheil air, innsidh mi sgeulachd dhuibh bho Mhòd o chionn beagan bhliadhnaichean.
Bha duine ann a bha air na saor-làithean aige, air turas socair, sàmhach leis an RSPB - Comann Rìoghail Dìon nan Eun. Rinn e mearachd mhòr ge-tà, oir ’s ann a bhùc e a-steach dhan aon taigh-òsta ri leth-dusan còisir aig a’ Mhòd. Bha an truaghan seo a’ gnogadh air doras an t-seòmair an ath dhoras aig dà uair anns a’ mhadainn, leis gun robh an t-seinn ’s am fealla-dhà fhathast a’ dol gu làidir. Chuir e ceist air na fichead duine a bha cruinn còmhla anns an rùm sin—carson idir a bha gille òg nam measg a’ seinn na pìoba?
Ach, a’ cur an aon duine mhì-fhortanach sin dhan dàrna taobh, tha taic fharsaing ann an Alba dhan Mhòd, agus dhan Ghàidhlig. Bha sin furasta fhaicinn ann am Peairt an t-seachdain ’s a chaidh, agus tha mi toilichte a ràdh gu bheil an taic sin ri faicinn anns a’ Phàrlamaid seo cuideachd, a’ chuid as motha den tìde, thairis air na pàrtaidhean, mar a tha follaiseach an-diugh.
An e am Mòd an t-aon rud a tha cudromach dhan Ghàidhlig? Uill, chan eil duine sam bith a’ dèanamh a-mach gur e. Le cinnt, mar a bha daoine eile ag ràdh, tha a’ Ghàidhlig ann an staid chugallach; mar sin, tha e cho cudromach gum bi sinn ga bruidhinn cho tric ’s as urrainn dhuinn gu làitheil, a’ bharrachd air a bhith ga seinn.
Tha dualchas beòthail aig ceòl na Gàidhlig, agus tha am Mòd a’ dèanamh obair mhòr airson a’ chànain fhèin agus gus coimhearsnachd na Gàidhlig a tharraing còmhla gach bliadhna. Tha e ceart gu bheil a’ Phàrlamaid a’ moladh sin an-diugh. Tapadh leibh.
Following is the simultaneous interpretation:
Thank you, Presiding Officer. First, I thank Murdo Fraser for ensuring that the debate has been held in the Parliament. I congratulate the people of Perth for giving such a warm welcome to the Royal National Mòd during the past fortnight.
At this point, I must declare an interest of sorts, as I sang at the Mòd in Perth this year. As ever, it was great fun to take part in the competitions as part of my local choir from Back, in Lewis. We were very pleased with the prize that we won. I congratulate everyone else who took part in the Mòd this week.
The Royal National Mòd draws the Gaelic world together in a unique way. It represents the richness of our language and culture through singing, poetry, art, storytelling, drama, choral and instrumental music, dance competitions and many others each year.
The Royal National Mòd showcases our culture to the various communities that the festival visits each year, when people can see the best competitors from Scotland on the television or hear them on the radio. Everybody who is involved in the Mòd—competitors and audience alike—have missed the Mòd greatly since 2019, although some events were held online in the meantime. It was great to gather in the same place again for the Mòd, so I congratulate An Comunn Gàidhealach on its work to make the 2022 Mòd such a success.
For members who do not know much about the Mòd and what it means for many Gaels, I will tell a story about something that happened at the Mòd a few years ago. A man was on his holidays, having a relaxing and quiet trip with the RSPB. He made the mistake of booking into the one hotel of the Mòd, when there were half a dozen others that were quieter. The man had to knock on the door of the room next door at 2 am due to the loud fun and games and singing that were going on. Twenty people were gathered in that room, including a young man who was playing the pipes.
Putting that young man to one side, the Mòd is supported throughout Scotland, as is Gaelic. That was seen in Perth last week, and I am glad to see that clear support across all parties in the Parliament today.
I do not think that anyone would claim that the Mòd is the only important thing to Gaelic, but Gaelic is certainly in a vulnerable state, as others have said. Therefore, it is vital that we continue to speak it as well as sing in it as much as we can, every day.
Gaelic has a lively musical tradition. The Mòd contributes hugely to encouraging the language and, as it brings the community together every year, it is right that the Parliament praises it today.13:17
I, too, thank Murdo Fraser for lodging the motion. I was very disappointed not to hear him give his speech in Gaelic. We had to wait until the final sentence to hear any Gaelic at all, but I congratulate him on his efforts.
An Comunn Gàidhealach’s decision to return to Perth for the 10th time was wonderful—not only for all those who participated in the wide variety of Gaelic language and culture over the eight days of festivities, but for the host city of Perth, which has a deep-rooted history with the festival.
The Mòd’s promotion of Gaelic across such a vast cultural spectrum is always tremendous, and with more than 200 competitions having been held, the thousands of visitors who attended were provided with a showcase that they will not forget, I am sure. All competitors and their families should be proud of the performances that they gave, and of the depth of talent that was on display, including that of Alasdair Allan.
Fans enjoyed an outstanding display of poetry, music and recital, all in celebration of the Gaelic language and culture. Many had travelled from far and wide to discover or reignite a passion for Gaelic culture. As Murdo Fraser said, special mention should be made of the return of the choir competitions, which were held for the first time since the Glasgow Mòd in 2019. With the lifting of the Covid restrictions that prevented the previous two Mòds from holding those group events, it was wonderful to hear about the huge crowd at Perth concert hall, where many choirs spent a tough afternoon competing for a variety of coveted trophies.
This year’s Mòd showed that the future of Gaelic culture is looking prosperous and full of innovation. As Claire Baker has said, this year’s Mòd had a TikTok competition to promote the language, the culture and even Gaelic comedy. It got many hits from and interactions with Gaelic speakers and others, with submissions being shared on the page that targeted a new modern audience that might not have been reached otherwise. For that reason, among many, we should be optimistic about the future of Gaelic culture, with further encouragement on various platforms and new mediums allowing, in particular, children and young adults to interact with Gaelic in a way that has never been experienced before.
It is important to a city such as Perth that it receives the economic benefits of the Mòd, which will undoubtedly support local businesses and promote the city as a destination nationally and internationally. Thanks should also be given to BBC Alba for its impeccable coverage of the Mòd. That is another example of the channel being a great tool for sharing Gaelic language and culture in all parts of Scotland.
Finally, I say that, for over a century and a quarter, An Comunn has excelled at being the body of representation for the Gaelic language. The association’s aims of supporting and developing all aspects of Gaelic language, culture, history and heritage at local, national and international levels continue to be met and surpassed by the return—again—to Perth of a fully fledged Royal National Mòd.13:21
Tha mi duilich, in advance, for any pronunication mistakes.
Tha mi glè thoilichte a bhith a’ bruidhinn san deasbad seo. Tha mi air a bhith soilleir bhon taghadh agam gu bheil mi a’ cur fàilte air conaltradh sa Ghàidhlig. Tha mi toilichte gu bheil luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig agam san oifis agam agus tha mi airson taic a thoirt do Rory airson a chuideachadh leis an òraid agam an-diugh. Tha mi cuideachd airson taing a thoirt do Murdo Fraser airson an deasbad seo a thoirt dhan t-seòmar.
Mar a chuala sinn, tha am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail cho cudromach airson a bhith a’ bhrosnachadh agus a’ comharrachadh ar cànan ’s ar ceòl. Tha e a toirt còmhla luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig agus daoine aig nach eil Gàidhlig bho air feadh na dùthcha agus nas fhaide air falbh.
Tha àite fìor chudromach aig a’ Mhòd ann a bhith a’ cumail ar coimhearsnachdan Gàidhlig soirbheachail. Mar sin, bha e cho math an tachartas fhaicinn a’ tilleadh don t-seachdain slàn de cho-fharpaisean agus consairtean ann am Peairt, às dèidh uimhir de dh’ùine air falbh bho chèile air sgàth Covid.
Tha mi airson an cothrom seo a ghabhail airson meal-a-naidheachd a chur air a h-uile farpaiseach, gu h-àraidh an fheadhainn bhon Ghàidhealtachd agus na h-eileanan.
Bha e gu sònraichte math a bhith a’ faicinn Ruairidh Gray, à Uibhist a Deas, agus Annie Catriona Macdonald, às an Eilean Sgitheanach, na buinn òir cliùiteach a bhuannachadh. Chaidh Ruairidh air adhart gus buinn òir an t-seann nòis a buannachadh an ath latha, le Alice MacMillan à Leòdhas. Chan eil ann an Ruairidh ach an dàrna neach a choisinn an dà bhonn aig an aon mhòd.
Air an latha mu dheireadh den fharpais, choisinn Còisir Ghàidhlig an Eilein Duibh, fo stiùir Kirsteen Menzies, Cuach Cuimhneachan Mairead NicDhonnchaidh. Às dèidh seo, thog Còisir Ghàidhlig an Òbain Sgiath MhicShimidh is Thulaich Bhàrdainn, fo stiùir Sileas Sinclair.
Tha e sgoinneil a leithid de thàlant san sgìre fhaicinn air aithneachadh. Tapadh leibh.
Following is the simultaneous interpretation:
I am very happy to be speaking in this debate. I have been very clear since my election that I welcome Gaelic communication. I am very happy that Gaelic speakers are in my team. I thank Rory for his help with my contribution today. I also thank Murdo Fraser for bringing the debate to the chamber.
As we have heard, the Royal National Mòd is so important for the promotion and celebration of the Gaelic language and music. It brings together Gaelic speakers and non-speakers from across the country and further afield, and it has a vital role in ensuring the continued success of our Gaelic communities. It was therefore good to see the event return for a whole week-long programme of competitions and concerts in Perth after so much time away due to Covid.? I take this opportunity to congratulate all the competitors, especially those from the Highlands and Islands.
It was great to see Ruairidh Gray from South Uist and Annie Catriona MacDonald from the Isle of Skye win the coveted gold medals. Ruairidh went on to win the traditional medal the following night, alongside Alice Macmillan from Lewis.? Ruairidh is only the second person to win both medals at the same Mòd.
On the final day of the competition, the new Black Isle Gaelic choir won the Margaret Duncan memorial trophy under the direction of Kirsteen Menzies. The brilliant Oban Gaelic choir won the prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine shield, with conductor Sileas Sinclair.
It is fabulous and fantastic to see recognition of the talent in the region.
I call the cabinet secretary, Angus Robertson, to respond on behalf of the Scottish Government. You have around seven minutes, cabinet secretary.13:24
Tapadh leibh—thank you—Presiding Officer.
I thank Murdo Fraser for bringing forward the debate and members across the chamber for their contributions. It has been hugely positive to hear from all sides of the chamber such positive reflections on the Gaelic language and the Royal National Mòd.
It is a privilege for me to speak on behalf of the Scottish Government on the Royal National Mòd’s return to Perth. I will begin by reflecting on members’ contributions.
I agree entirely with Murdo Fraser on the value of bilingualism and bilingual education. I say that as somebody who is fortunate enough to be bilingual—I share my first language with my children. Jenni Minto has a long track record of working in Gaelic-medium broadcasting, and I heard what she said about Gaelic-medium education in Oban. She asked me to raise the matter with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and I give her an undertaking to do that. It was good to hear the praise from Roz McCall, which I hope was heard by the officers of Perth and Kinross Council, who have worked so hard to make the Mòd the success that it has been. It was also good to hear the encouragement for young people to speak the language and take part in the wider cultural activities that are associated with Gaelic culture. I heard, too, Claire Baker’s calls for innovation in the promotion of the language. That is important.
Alasdair Allan stood as the living embodiment of such encouragement, as he is somebody who—in case people did not know—is a Gaelic learner who now speaks, I am well informed, impeccable Gaelic. That leads me to my total agreement with Donald Cameron—I share his disappointment that his colleague Murdo Fraser did not make his speech in Gaelic. I am sure that it was just an oversight. Perhaps he can follow the inspiration of Dr Allan—we look forward to his next speeches on the subject in Gaelic. The contribution of Emma Roddick, who is learning the language, is encouragement to us all that it is never too late to learn. [Applause.]
As members have said, this is the 10th time that the Mòd has been to Perth, and it was a welcome return to a full-scale event following the pandemic. I am aware that my colleagues Shirley-Anne Somerville and Deputy First Minister John Swinney attended several of the opening events, which were well attended by Gaels and non-Gaels alike. I congratulate An Comunn Gàidhealach on its continued hard work to promote and support the use of the Gaelic language in everyday community life over time.
The Royal National Mòd is Scotland’s premier festival celebrating its Gaelic linguistic and cultural heritage. It provides opportunities for people of all ages to perform across a range of competitive disciplines, including Gaelic music and song, Highland dancing, instrumental, drama, sport and literature. I echo the praise for all participants and particularly for all medal winners.
The Mòd also represents an annual opportunity for Gaels and non-Gaels to gather and celebrate one of the key features of Scottish identity. The Royal National Mòd continues to attract a great number of participants of all ages and abilities, and an amazing 7,000 attendees took part or visited Perth over the course of the eight days. We should be proud of that number and of the activities on offer, which will have brought a great boost to the Perthshire economy.
The Scottish Government is proud to continue its support for the Royal National Mòd. We provided £60,000 as well as supporting the Gaelic ambassador of the year award. I congratulate this year’s recipient, John Urquhart, who is a worthy advocate for the language.
As many members will know, the Scottish Government is committed to supporting the Gaelic language. We recognise the cultural, economic and social value of the language to the whole of Scotland, and we want to ensure that those who wish to learn and use the Gaelic language are given every opportunity to do so.
I reaffirm the absolute commitment of the Scottish Government to safeguard, nurture and promote the Gaelic language as one of the indigenous languages of this country. In recognition of that, we launched the “Scottish Government's Gaelic Language Plan 2022-2027” on 14 October, which I hope will go some way towards supporting those aims. The plan sets out our clear commitment to those who wish to engage with the Scottish Government through the medium of Gaelic as well as making commitments to support our staff who wish to enhance their language skills.
As many members will be aware, we came to power on a strong range of commitments to the Gaelic and Scots languages, and we are seeking views on the future frameworks and support for Gaelic. That consultation is open, and I encourage everyone with an interest to respond to it.
I will close by again thanking An Comunn Gàidhealach for its commitment in bringing together that celebration of Gaelic language and culture. There are many positive and welcome aspects of the Mòd, but I remind us of two important elements. First, the Mòd promotes our rich Gaelic cultural heritage in Scotland, which must be recognised, encouraged and supported. The Mòd has a key role in that regard. The Mòd also has a key role in providing school-age young people with the opportunity to use their Gaelic and demonstrate their ability in song, poetry and drama. We all recognise that as being of great value for Gaelic and for Scotland as a whole.
I am also aware that Perth and Kinross Council has been keen to host the Mòd for a number of years, and it is fitting that the first post-Covid full Mòd was held in Perth and Kinross. That builds on the reputation of a council that has done so much to enrich the cultural life of that area and beyond. Members will all see the economic report that will follow, and I am sure that it will show the great benefits that the Royal National Mòd brings to local economies and demonstrate that Gaelic is for the whole of Scotland.
Tapadh leibh, Presiding Officer.
Thank you, cabinet secretary. That concludes the debate. I suspend the meeting until 2 pm.13:30 Meeting suspended.
14:00 On resuming—
PreviousFirst Minister’s Question Time