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Columba Initiative

16/12/1997

The Government's drive to foster closer cultural and linguistic ties between the Gaelic speaking communities of Scotland and the island of Ireland through the Columba Initiative took a significant step forward today with the appointment of Donald Angie Maclennan as the Scottish Co-ordinator of the Initiative.

Mr Brian Wilson also announced £900,000 of Government funding towards the building of student residences at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye, as part of the new Arainn Chaluim Chille (Columba Campus).

Speaking in Edinburgh today, Mr Brian Wilson MP, Minister with special responsibility for Gaelic said:

"This is a major investment in a project which directly supports Gaelic education while also enhancing the Scottish-Irish connection. It is perhaps ironic that the Scottish Parliament in the 17th century should refer to Gaelic as the Irish language. But even that shows how much we have in common within the lands that run from the Ring of Kerry to the Butt of Lewis.

"There are already contacts in the academic world, and between local authorities; and the arts, particularly traditional music and song; between schools, in shinty and hurling, and in many family ties.

"To build on all of this, I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Donald Angie Maclennan as Scottish Co-ordinator for the Columba Initiative. As Project Officer, Mr Maclennan will be responsible for fostering contacts and formulating a programme of exchanges. Mr Maclennan has worked at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, for Canan and on Gaelic Matters 1996 and 1997. I am confident that the enthusiasm which Mr Maclennan brings to work will contribute greatly to his new role".

Mr Maclennan (28) has been the manager at Gaidhlig '97 since March 1996. He is a graduate of Strathclyde University.

Mr Wilson also announced the Government's support for Arainn Chaluim Chille, the new campus at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, which will include an Academic Hub and a new Residential block. Arainn Chaluim Chille will receive Government assistance of £900,000 towards the building of the student residences.

Mr Wilson continued:

"I am happy to announce that we are able to support the building of residences to the extent of £900,000. I believe that this is a very special development not just to Sabhal Mor Ostaig but for Gaelic education in Scotland and beyond. There is a great deal of enthusiasm for Gaelic and Celtic studies world wide. I hope that this initiative will confirm that Celtic languages are not only alive but developing in their native lands".

BACKGROUND

1. On June 9 Mr Wilson announced the Columba Initiative to foster closer cultural and linguistic ties between the Gaelic speaking communities of Scotland and the island of Ireland.

2. Mr Wilson had a two day visit to Ireland from October 20 to promote the Columba Initiative. The visit included a meeting with Mr Eamon O'Cuiv, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in Dublin as well as discussions with education, broadcasting and cultural organisations in Dublin, Galway and Belfast. News Release - 2046/1997 Date 16 December 1997