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SNP President and Euro-MP Ian Hudghton has welcomed this week's ruling by the European Parliament to allow people to communicate with the institution in Catalan, Basque or Galician and receive a reply in their own language.
The SNP has been campaigning to improve the status of Gaelic in Europe and Mr Hudghton is now calling on the UK Government to take advantage of the new ruling to ensure similar rights for Gaelic speakers.
SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an lar, Angus MacNeil, will table an early day motion in Westminster welcoming the European Parliament's decision and calling on the UK Government to seek similar status for Gaelic.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ian Hudghton MEP said:
"This new ruling will allow Catalan, Galician and Basque speakers to contact the European Parliament in their own languages and expect a reply in their respective languages. We have been working to improve the recognition of the Gaelic language in
Europe and the door is now open for the UK Government to make the appropriate representations.
"If we are serious about bringing Europe closer to the people then it makes absolute sense that Gaelic speakers should be able to write to the European parliament and expect a reply in their own language. I would expect the UK Government to act quickly to allow this to happen.
"It will not only allow Gaelic speakers to be able to write to the European Parliament and get a reply in their native language but I would also hope that this would be a boost for the Gaelic translation industry."
Angus MacNeil MP added:
"The SNP is committed to improving the status of Gaelic. This welcome decision concerning Catalan, Galician and Basque will now put pressure on the UK Government to follow suit. There is no excuse for failing to take advantage of this new opportunity to provide a boost for the Gaelic language. Implementing this proposal would not only allow Gaelic speakers to write to the European Parliament and get a reply in their own language, but would also be good news for Gaelic translators and could help create new jobs."
Text of EDM from Angus MacNeil MP:
That this house welcomes the decision of the European Parliament to allow EU citizens to correspond with and receive replies from the European Parliament in the Basque, Galician and Catalan languages; notes that this decision was taken after a formal request was made to the European Parliament by the Spanish government; further notes that the Spanish government has committed itself to fund translation of EU documents into the Basque, Galician and Catalan languages; and calls upon the UK Government to follow the Spanish government's example and ensure that similar status is afforded with respect to the Gaelic language.