Celtic charter calls on governments to tackle Western Isles’ housing crisis

Grass roots Gaelic activist group Misneachd has signed a joint ‘Celtic Housing Charter’ with other language activists across the UK and Ireland.
Outside interest in the housing market is having an adverse impact on some communities in the Western Isles, particularly for young families looking to buy a home. (Photo © Julian Paren cc-by-sa/2.0)Outside interest in the housing market is having an adverse impact on some communities in the Western Isles, particularly for young families looking to buy a home. (Photo © Julian Paren cc-by-sa/2.0)
Outside interest in the housing market is having an adverse impact on some communities in the Western Isles, particularly for young families looking to buy a home. (Photo © Julian Paren cc-by-sa/2.0)

Groups in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Mann and Cornwall have jointly written the charter.

Màrtainn Mac a’ Bhàillidh, Sgioba Misneachd, said: “This issue has never been more important to the survival of Gaelic communities.

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“I know lots of families, working at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and in the Western Isles who are raising Gaelic speaking kids with little to no hope that they will be able to live in the community they grew up in.

“It’s a completely unsustainable situation and is at the core of the linguistic crisis referred to in the recent Gaelic Crisis in the vernacular community research.

The ‘Celtic Housing Charter – the right to a home’ says the rural housing crisis is a huge problem that threatens the future of Celtic language-speaking communities.

It states: “We, as organisations representing the minority languages of the Celtic nations, declare that urgent action must be taken.”

It calls on governments to adopt policies to ensure people who live and work in Celtic language-speaking communities, including those belonging to marginalised and minority communities, can afford to stay in their communities.

Measures called for in the charter include:

• Cap the percentage of second or holiday homes within a community;

• Change the definition of affordable housing and manage rent prices so that they are affordable to people on local wages;

• Develop a strategic plan for housing and tourism in rural areas to counter the fact that many houses have been taken out of the locally available housing stock;

• Return social housing stock to public ownership, return underused stock to public ownership, and all ‘new builds’ to include a major element of public ownership

• Incentives to renovate and/or build sustainable housing in terms of material and method of construction;

• Penalties for refusal to let property to members of disadvantaged communities such as travellers or refugees.

The ‘Celtic Housing Charter - the right to a home’ can be viewed in full here