Time for the Gaelic lobby to raise its collective voice​

​The president of An Comunn Gaidhealach has called for “all the Gaelic organisations” to join protests over Scottish Government cuts to Gaelic funding.
Maggie Cunningham with 2023 Mod Gold medallists Iain Cormack and Emma MacLeodMaggie Cunningham with 2023 Mod Gold medallists Iain Cormack and Emma MacLeod
Maggie Cunningham with 2023 Mod Gold medallists Iain Cormack and Emma MacLeod

Maggie Cunningham was speaking after An Comunn’s AGM in Paisley at the weekend. She said: “I haven’t seen so much anger about anything relating to Gaelic for a long time.

“What is the point of a Languages Bill without any money to support it and while at the same time these cuts are being made in Gaelic-speaking communities? It is a complete and utter waste of time”.

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Ms Cunningham, who was re-appointed to her position, said one of the community officer posts which will be lost if funding cuts go ahead was created by An Comunn to support development of local Mods. “She’s only been in the job six months and now the funding is being taken away”, she added.

There are 23 community posts threatened by the axing of a funding stream which was only created two years ago, in response to critical comments about absence of support for the language in its remaining heartland areas.

Ms Cunningham said that “all the Gaelic organisations should be supporting the Misneachd petition” to the Scottish Parliament which is about to become available for signatures.

This week Misneachd said: “We have submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament which is currently being checked by the clerks before it goes live. Hopefully we'll get approval shortly”.

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While the loss of the community posts has attracted most attention, Misneachd are also anxious to draw attention to the fact that the budget for Bòrd na Gaidhlig, the Scottish Government’s own quango, has been heavily cut.

They said: “We were concerned that the outcry over the removal of the top-up (community) funding would distract from the desperate need for a doubling of the budget Bòrd na Gàidhlig receives, and that the justified anger should be channelled into a very necessary and more strategic campaign for adequate funding for community development more widely”.

Accordingly, the petition will call on the Scottish Government to “bring investment in the Gaelic language to sustainable levels by increasing Bòrd na Gàidhlig's annual budget to at least £8.5 million, reversing the year on year real-terms cut it has suffered since its inception in 2005, and ensuring this increases in line with inflation in the future”.

They elaborate: “Investment in Gaelic development creates jobs, has a multiplier effect, particularly in marginalised rural and island communities, and has a positive impact across numerous Government policy priorities”.

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They pointed out that if Bòrd na Gàidhlig's initial budget of £5m had increased in line with inflation it would have reached between £8.5m and £10m for 2024/25. Even that increase would leave it below the level recommended in the early 2000s. “If the Scottish Government, and Parliament, are serious about securing Gaelic's future then investment in it must be brought to adequate levels,” said Misneachd.

Last week, the Gazette highlighted the fact that the Scottish Government’s other major Gaelic cost, a contribution to BBC Alba, has remained frozen for more than a decade.