National Gaelic Schools Debate final to be held in Holyrood’s debating chamber for the first time (5 December)


The National Gaelic Schools Debate final is set to take place in the Scottish Parliament later this week (Thursday 5 December).

Held annually at Parliament since 1999, the schools’ debate will for the first time, however, take place on the floor of debating chamber.

The move centre stage is to mark both the twentieth anniversary of the Gaelic debating competition and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

Sixteen teams representing 13 secondary schools from across Scotland participated in the initial stages of the competition in Stornoway. Four semi-finalists remain and will battle it out on Wednesday to see who progresses to Holyrood on Thursday evening.

The four semi-finalists are:

• Inverness Royal Academy B
• Sgoil Lionaclait, Uist
• Bishopbriggs Academy A
• Sir E Scott School, Isle of Harris

The final will be broadcast live on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal. 

Presiding Officer, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP said:

“Gaelic matters. It is part of who we are and part of Scotland's rich cultural identity.

“The humour, insight and linguistic skill displayed by young people in this competition year after year, convincingly demonstrates that the language continues to flourish.

“It gives me immense pleasure that the final will be held on the floor of Holyrood’s debating chamber, marking this, our joint twentieth anniversary.” 

Background information 

The final will start at 19:00 and finish at approximately 20:30.

The Chairperson for the final will be Eilidh Grant and the three judges will be Agnes Rennie, Boyd Robertson and Ian Stephen Morrison.

The presentation of the shield for the Best Debater of the entire competition will be made by Donalda Mackinnon, Director of BBC Scotland. 

The presentation of the National Secondary Schools’ Gaelic Debate 2019 Award shield will be made by Maurice Boyle, Chief Operations Officer, Loganair. 

Following the presentation of the awards, guests will be invited to the Parliament’s Garden Lobby for the Cross-Party Group on Gaelic’s Annual Reception. The Convener of the Cross-Party Group Alasdair Allan MSP will welcome the guests.

Previous winners of the schools competition include

2018 Nicolson Institute A, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
2017 Nicolson Institute A, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
2016 Inverness Royal Academy
2015 Nicolson Institute A, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
2014 Dingwall Academy
2013 Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (Glasgow Gaelic School)
2012 Tain Royal Academy
2011 Gairloch High School, Wester Ross

The subject matter for debate in the final will be: In twenty years’ time, the real Gaelic heartlands will be in the big cities. 

More Gaelic at Holyrood this week – Scotland’s Futures Forum:

Friday will see Scotland’s Futures Forum discuss the topic of ‘Scotland 2030: Gaelic – what would success look like?”

The event will feature expert contributions from Wilson McLeod, Professor of Gaelic at the University of Edinburgh, musician, writer and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy, and Professor of Modern Irish in NUI Galway, Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin. The half day conference chaired by the Presiding Officer will run from 10:00 to 13:00.

The working language for the event will be predominantly Gaelic with simultaneous interpretation to English so it will be accessible to non-Gaelic speakers.

Find more about the event here.


Contact information

Public information

  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
  • [email protected]
  • Text 07786 209 888
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  • We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in British Sign Language through contactSCOTLAND-BSL

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