Motion: UHI Appointment of Gaelic Research Professor Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin

Motion Number: S4M-09537
Lodged By: Jean Urquhart
Date Lodged: 28/03/2014

Title: UHI Appointment of Gaelic Research Professor Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin

Motion Text:
That the Parliament welcomes the appointment of Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin as Gaelic Research Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and director of Soillse, the national research network for the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture, which is effective from April 2014; understands that Dr Ó Giollagáin has an international reputation in language planning and minority language culture and sociology; further understands that, as director of Soillse, Dr Ó Giollagáin will lead a team of four research fellows, one lecturer and 10 PhD students in their research; notes that his research will cover the intergenerational transmission of Gaelic practice and policy in Gaelic medium education and the assessment of government policies on the revitalisation of the language; considers this appointment to demonstrate the commitment of UHI to Gaelic language and culture and the growing reputation of UHI as a centre of academic excellence; further considers the work of academics, the Scottish Government and other partners in supporting Gaelic language and culture to be of paramount importance to the Highlands and Islands and to Scotland, and looks forward to working with Dr Ó Giollagáin and others in support of the Gaelic language and culture.

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MoonWalk and the Highlands & Islands

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Walk the Walk to hear about how the Moon Walk is helping improve the lives of Scotland’s cancer population. The amount of good that Walk the Walk are able to facilitate through their grants system is truly astonishing. Over the last 6 years, the Moon Walk has raised over £15 million in Scotland- hopefully I can help add to that total when I take part next year!

HIGHLANDS MSPS WITH WALKERS FROM THE WALK THE WALK CHARITY....PIC PETER JOLLY HIGHLANDS MSPS WITH WALKERS FROM THE WALK THE WALK CHARITY....PIC PETER JOLLY HIGHLANDS MSPS WITH WALKERS FROM THE WALK THE WALK CHARITY....PIC PETER JOLLY

Motion: The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil

That the Parliament notes that 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the first tour of the play, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil; understands that it was performed by the 7:84 theatre company across the Highlands and Islands, and in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ireland, and was written by a group of artists with many talents, including Gaelic singing and fine traditional music making; considers that it was effective in raising issues affecting the Highlands and Islands over the last few centuries, including land ownership, class divide and economic change; believes that its commentary on the cause and effect of the Highland clearances, inequitable land ownership and the discovery of North Sea oil still have relevance; considers that the arts play a vital role in political debate and thought in Scotland, particularly ahead of the 2014 independence referendum, and welcomes the work of writers and artists that articulates contemporary Scotland as well as The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil.

Climate Challenge Fund Advice Surgeries

 

The Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) has made 563 awards to the value of over £46.9 million since its launch in 2008. The fund helps community groups who have projects designed to help reduce their carbon footprint, and funded projects in the past have included community growing projects, initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle and energy efficiency advice.

To encourage potential applicants, the Scottish Government will be holding two further advice surgeries in the Highlands and Islands next week to provide information to local community groups and interested parties. These will be held between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Tuesday 23rd July at the Merkinch Community Centre in Inverness and between 9.30am and 2pm on Thursday 25th July at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Council Building in Stornoway (with videolinks to the Council Offices in Balivanich and Barra).

I would encourage any and all community groups with any ideas to pop along to these events in Inverness and Stornoway to hear more from the CCF. More information can be found at their website.

PRESS RELEASE: JEAN URQUHART MSP SIGNS UP TO HELP MAP PHONE SIGNAL

A Highlands and Islands MSP has urged constituents with smartphones to help “crowd-source” a new phone signal map for the region through the use of an innovative app.

The RootMetrics app, promoted by the Countryside Alliance, can be downloaded onto smartphones and tablets from the iTunes or Google Play store. Users can then test their local signal strength, a record of which is also sent automatically to RootMetrics to help build an accurate picture of phone signal across the UK.

Jean Urquhart MSP, who has downloaded the app, commented:

“As a Highlands and Islands resident, I am more than aware of the patchy nature of signal across the region and the frustration of trying to find a mobile operator that offers the most consistent coverage

“It is deeply unfair that mobile phone tariffs cost the same regardless of location but that phone users in the Highlands and Islands do not get the same service as other parts of the UK do.

“I hope that this crowdsourcing project will prove useful in identifying blind spots in the Highlands and Islands and will continue to put pressure on mobile operators and the Government to improve coverage.

“I’ve downloaded the app, and will add to the sample size in the Highlands and Islands as I travel round the constituency- I hope that other constituents with smart phones and tablets do the same to build as accurate a picture as possible.”

Jean with the RootMetrics app
Jean with the RootMetrics app

Jean Urquhart MSP backs latest ‘see me’ campaign

Jean Urquhart MSP has backed ‘see me’s latest campaign urging Scots to get talking about mental ill-health and listen to what is being said.

‘Just listen. You could change a life.’ is the message of the latest campaign from ‘see me’, Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health. Talking openly about mental ill-health isn’t always easy but with someone there to listen, it could change a life.

This latest activity comes on the back of recent research which found that a sizeable number of Scots[1] (40%) would find it hard, or are unsure how to discuss or talk about mental illness, despite nearly two thirds (61%) of the population[2] being in touch with someone with experience of mental ill-health.

 

Jean said: “I am supporting this latest campaign from ‘see me’ because stigma surrounding mental health ill-health still exists in Scotland and is something we all need to play our part in breaking down.

“I hope the campaign will encourage people across the Highlands and Islands to open up and talk about mental health issues. We need to start talking if want to stamp out the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health once and for all.”

Suzie Vestri, ‘see me’ campaign director, said: “If you think someone close to you might be experiencing mental ill-health, the first and most important thing to do is to ask how you can help, and listen to what they say to you.

“It’s not easy, and your help might not seem welcome at first, but keep asking how they are and listen attentively when they do open up. Only by talking positively and openly can we end the stigma that surrounds mental ill-health. I would encourage everyone in the Highlands and Islands to just listen. You really can change a life.”

Activity kicked off with a refreshed TV advert which features two friends talking about how one didn’t give up on the other who was experiencing mental ill-health until he opened up. This will be supported with new radio and print adverts as well as key digital and social media activity to start the Just listen. You could change a life conversation online.

Watch the TV advert here: www.seemescotland.org/justlisten

Get involved in the online conversation by liking the ‘see me’ Facebook page or tweeting #endstigma #justlisten.


[1] Figures from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1011 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 – 20 September 2012.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+)

[2] Figures from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1011 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 – 20 September 2012.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+)

Plockton Railway Station Plaque Unveiling

On April 26th, I was privileged to unveil a plaque at Plockton Railway Station to recognise a unique partnership initiative which has driven down anti-social behaviour.

Following complaints of low-level anti-social behaviour at the station by pupils from the neighbouring high school, it was felt the best way to encourage a feeling of responsibility and ownership was by bringing together a collaborative committee of those affected.

As a result incidents have been reduced considerably and the committee, which is made up entirely of pupils, has now gone one step further and adopted the ScotRail station. They now play a part in the station’s upkeep such as maintaining poster boards, planters and picking up litter.

 

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Photos: Signing Kevin Stewart MSP’s Anti-Bedroom Tax Letter

Along with other SNP, Green and Independent MSPs, as well as a number of voluntary organisations, trade unions and disability groups, I signed an open letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP calling on the Bedroom Tax to be scrapped in this year’s Budget Statement on March 20th. City of Edinburgh-20130313-00046 City of Edinburgh-20130313-00047 City of Edinburgh-20130313-00050 IMG-20130313-00028 IMG-20130313-00029

Photos: Planting Potatoes at Hilton Primary School, Inverness

Despite the sudden flurries of snow, I was able to attend Hilton Primary School’s potato-planting session as part of the “Grow Your Own Potatoes” project this morning. It was great to see so many kids so enthusiastic about getting their hands dirty; projects like this and Crofting Connections, which teaches kids about crofting, are fantastic, and long may they continue.IMG_0374 Jean at Hilton PS P5 Hilton PS Potato Planting at Hilton PS