A GAELIC campaign group has published a new manifesto urging Scotland’s political parties to embrace radical measures to reverse the decline of the language.

Misneachd is calling for controls on second homes and consideration of Gaelic-speaking housing developments alongside a raft of other proposals.

It said a new government-backed target should aim for all those living in the Western Isles to be able to speak at least some Gaelic.

The campaign group said: “For the first time in Scotland’s history, there is a danger that in the near future there will be no place where Gaelic is the language of the community.”

Misneachd is launching its new manifesto ahead of the Holyrood election in May and hopes to influence party policies.

It comes after a recent study warned Gaelic-speaking communities are unlikely to survive anywhere in Scotland beyond this decade unless urgent action is taken. 

Researchers based at the University of the Highlands and Islands found the social use and transmission of Gaelic is at the point of collapse in the remaining “vernacular” communities where it is still in regular, day-to-day use.

Misneachd said the current Gaelic policy framework is “largely based on a fantasy”, and argued the policies of the last two decades have been “largely ineffective”.

In its manifesto, the group outlines a series of measures to address the language crisis.  

These include a Gaelic jobs strategy to combat population decline, the introduction of a tourism tax and more social housing on the islands.

Misneachd also wants controls on second homes, short-term lets and rent prices.

It said Western Isles Council has suffered disproportionate cuts in recent years and insisted a “significant amount of extra money should be allocated to ensure they can provide appropriate services to island communities”.

Elsewhere, the group said a distinctive curriculum for Gaelic-medium education should be created “based on Gaelic history and culture”.

It wants to increase Gaelic-medium secondary provision and phase out English-medium education in the Western Isles “so that all children will have the opportunity and the right to fluency in Gaelic”.

It also wants the Scottish Government to fund universities to offer a “Gaelic community immersion year to all Gaelic undergraduates” and encourage students to choose Gaelic at university, for example through “generous scholarships and bursaries”.

However, Misneachd said the home remains the most important place for the transmission of Gaelic from generation to generation, and raised the prospect of financial incentives to support Gaelic-speaking families in raising the next generation of Gaelic speakers.

Funding should also be provided for a “master and apprentice” scheme in which Gaelic learners are brought together with older native Gaels to help them reach fluency, it said.

Meanwhile, the group called for officials to explore the feasibility of Gaelic-speaking housing developments and community cooperatives.

Misneachd said the aim should be for everyone living in the Western Isles to possess some level of Gaelic, with more than 70 per cent at a high level of fluency.

It said: “As a starting point we must acknowledge the scale and nature of the crisis honestly and soberly, and undertake to create policy solutions based on evidence and international best practice, rather than on fantasy and denial of the truth.”

Màrtainn Mac a’ Bhàillidh, a member of the group, said it is about recognising the policies in place at the moment are “thoroughly ineffective”.

He said: “We really need to take a long, hard look at what we’re doing in rural areas.”

SNP MP Alasdair Allan, who represents the Western Isles, recently launched a series of community conversations on Gaelic’s future as a community language in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Tiree.