So thinks Deirdre Mackay, councillor for East Sutherland who had a rather misguided, not to mention ill informed rant, against all things Gaelic. In a tirade at a community council meeting in Brora she claimed that Gaelic was for the elitist few,  a costly 'luxury' that we could ill afford and criticised the proliferation of Gaelic posts. The original article was published in the Northern Times and can be seen here.

A couple of things seemed to have escaped Ms Mackay's notice; the actual cost of supporting Gaelic uses up less than 1% of the total budget of the Highland Council, in fact according to Arthur Cormack of Bord na Gaidhlig it's closer to 0.07 % of the budget!

My initial reaction to the article was one of dismay, more so when my eight year old daughter read the piece over my shoulder and asked 'daddy, why doesn't she like us?' I wonder whether people like this realise the impact they have on others when they sound off in this manner.

In response to the article, the Northern Times ran a poll to ask whether people thought Gaelic funding was a waste of money. The overwhelming response seems to be 'No'. What was heartening was the online response to the article. Out of 97 comments the vast majority were speaking out against Councillor McKay. The few that supported her seemed to be intent on trotting out the same tired old arguments that were  at best anecdotal and at worst utterly false, quite often disregarding the facts that had been presented by other posters.

Arthur Cormack has repeatedly tried to engage in an open discussion with the Councillor and her father Councillor Rosie of Wick who is also fiercely opposed to all things Gaelic (conveniently ignoring the fact that next years Mod will bring a much needed  boost to the economy this autumn). Frustrated by this he resorted to posting an open letter to them on the FootStompin forum. In short he picks apart each one of her arguments and shows how they are utterly without substance. He refutes her claim that there are a proliferation of Gaelic posts within HC:

" criticise the “proliferation” of Gaelic development posts. Where are these posts, Cllr MacKay? The Highland Council had one Gaelic Development Manager but that post is currently vacant. To my knowledge it has a Gaelic Early Years Officer and a Gaelic Development Officer. I am not aware of other Gaelic posts having been created by the Highland Council that would have resulted in Lawrence Jamieson, whom I know, losing his job. What are these posts you claim were being created? And in any case, don’t people in jobs who speak Gaelic contribute to the Highland, Scottish and UK economies in exactly the same way as the millions working in English, through the taxes they pay?"

He also notes that Councillor MacKay is a member of the Labour party... ".. I believe you are a Labour councillor. Indeed I understand you are employed part-time by the Highlands & Islands Labour MSPs. It was one of those MSPs, Peter Peacock, who led the introduction of the legislation to the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the previous Labour administration"

And so on. I really do recommend that you read the article! 

So Ms Mackay, what now? Do you and others of your ilk continue to lambast Gaelic and shout 'No' at every opportunity, or do you open your eyes and ears and realise that supporting Gaelic is beneficial to us all. Economically and Culturally. Why be so ashamed of your own culture?


  1. E. said...
    'There's none so blind as those that will not see.'
    Ms Mackay and her father operate om the principle that if they bang the 'money drum' hard enough, they will get support. Those willing to read, let alone do research, are in the minorirty, so untrue and unfounded populist arguments are the easiest to sell.
    Art Cormack wins the rational argument hands down, but who listens to the voice of fact, statistic and reason? Saddening.
    Graisg said...
    You will like this, came across it in Iomairtean Yahoo, wonder if it will be debated?

    S3M-05683 Dave Thompson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party):
    Gaelic Promotion, Not Proscription- That the Parliament deplores the statements made by Highland Labour Councillor Deirdre Mackay that condemned Highland Council's efforts to provide accommodation and teaching for pupils in Gaelic-medium schools and considers them ill-informed; distances itself from her criticisms of efforts to support one of Scotland's native tongues, which many view as having suffered discrimination for centuries; condemns her negative comments toward Gaelic plans introduced by the previous Labour/Liberal Democrat-led Scottish Executive; calls on Labour MSPs to disassociate themselves from what could be viewed as thinly disguised racism; supports promotion of Gaelic, not proscription, and congratulates Highland Council for working to increase provision of Gaelic-medium education at schools across the Highlands.'

    Sin thu fhèin A Dhaibhidh!
    Toby said...
    Sin thu fhein indeed! I've noticed that the NT has published a couple of letters in support of Councillor Mackay, granted one of them was from her good self!

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