THE Gaelic newspaper An Gaidheal Ur – which has been published for the past 10 years - has folded.
Its Editor, Murray Macleod has blamed the demise of the paper on the lack of funding it was receiving from Bord na Gaidhlig.
An Comunn Gaidhealach at one time supported the paper financially, but in recent years the Bord was its main funder.
Mr Macleod said that three years ago the paper received 80,000 from Bord na Gaidhlig – a 50,000 block grant and 10,000 each from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland, and Argyll. The three authorities subsequently withdrew their funding.
Following that, Mr Macleod put in a bid to the Bord for a level of support of 70,000.
"The Bord said they would only be putting in 50,000. Then the agency acting for the Bord said they would no longer be putting advertising into the paper – and one-third of the income of An Gaidheal Ur comes from advertising.
"In December I got told that the Bord would not be providing any money for rental or administration support. In view of the whole situation over the past 12 months and no clear indication of what the future plans would be, I felt there was no other course but to stop production of the paper," he added.
Mr Macleod went on: "I was spending more time dealing with Bord na Gaidhlig in trying to access funding than producing the paper, which is an unsustainable position. I believe the Bord have some plans for a Gaelic publication in the future, but have no idea what it is.
"I couldn't go through another year with no guarantee that things were going to improve. I have to look after myself."
He said: "If Bord na Gaidhlig believe that the level of support given to An Gaidheal Ur was fair and justified, it shouldn't be difficult for them to find somebody who is willing to take on a Gaelic publication."
Hugh Dan Maclennan, speaking on behalf of the Bord, said it was regrettable that An Gaidheal Ur had come to such an end.
He said the Bord was considering producing a periodical in a year's time, and the tendering process would be resolved this autumn.
Mr Maclennan said that the Bord had worked very hard in discussions with Mr Macleod and hoped he would continue for another six months as an interim measure to keep the paper going.
"He declined that, and this is the position we are in," said Mr Maclennan.
He went on: "The Bord has for some time been looking at the wider aspects of Gaelic publishing from children's books to periodicals and newspapers and we are in the middle of an exercise that will lead to Gaelic publishing being put on a more sustainable long term basis.
"We are looking at a five-year plan with appropriate funding and resources. A report on the options for all that is due to be considered by the Bord by the end of April and hope to launch the periodical in whatever shape or form it will be, in March 2010. That would mean that the tendering process would have to be resolved in the autumn of this year. We are working to a very tight timescale.
"It is in nobody's interest to have projects that are set up and fold shortly after. We need to have something that is more long term and sustainable. It is regrettable that, for a short time, we will be without a Gaelic periodical," said Mr Maclennan.
"There are many questions that have to be asked, answered and responded to. What kind of paper do we want? How often and what content? How do we distribute it? Do we need one?"
He continued: "It is unfortunate that Murray has decided to make himself available to do other things, but if he decides he wishes to bid for any of the Bord projects coming up, it will be open to him and other people to apply for funding."