Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has reiterated his longstanding support for the provision of Gaelic-medium education.
Mr Cameron said: “Personally, I support the decision of the Comhairle to change the default position to Gaelic at P1, not least because parents can still opt out and choose English medium education for their children if they so wish. Ultimately, this is a matter for the local authority taking into account the specific, indeed unique, circumstances in the Western Isles.
“Bilingualism is plainly beneficial. We are all aware of the mistakes of the last century, where one language was promoted at the total exclusion of the other. In terms of this policy, I am very confident that council officials will ensure that parents who do “opt out” are not marginalised in any way.
“It’s also important the policy is deliverable across the Western Isles in light of the challenges we face in recruiting GME teachers on a national level.
“The Scottish Conservatives have long supported Gaelic for over 40 years both in government at UK level, and latterly in the Scottish Parliament, where MSPs such as Liz Smith, myself and others regularly promote the language.
“As the Vice-Convenor of the Cross-Party Group on Gaelic, I’ve frequently argued for the need to depoliticise the language, given the ongoing threat to the very existence of Gaelic itself.”