CALUM MacLeòid is entirely right to protest at the inadequacy of the Scottish Government’s provision for Gaelic (Dè a-nis airson Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig, The National, October 3), and to call for the establishment of a government official with real power, whose task is specifically to ensure that our indigenous languages have the recognised and inviolable place in education, the media and all official proceedings that they would have as a matter of course in most other European countries.

Note, however, that I said “languages”. If the level of official support for Gaelic is far less than it merits, the same is even more conspicuously true of Scots. Only wilful ignorance perpetuates the ridiculous argument about Scots not being a “proper” language: that has been answered countless times.

As has the equally absurd question of the relative merits of the claims of the two languages for recognition: both are languages of Scotland, integral parts of our national culture and our national heritage. It is a disgrace their official recognition and active support still has to be fought for.

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Alasdair Allan, formerly the government official with responsibility for the languages, has a native speaker’s intimacy with and a thorough scholarly grounding in Scots, and a good learner’s knowledge of Gaelic. I am not aware that any of this is true of John Swinney, under whose remit the languages have now been placed.

No-one questions Mr Swinney’s ability, industry and dedication; but his qualifications are not those required for a language officer – and he has a great many other matters occupying his attention.

We require a fully qualified Minister for the Languages of Scotland, with the responsibility of ensuring that Scots and Gaelic receive their due recognition and support as national languages. How many more times must the case be made before the Government takes decisive action?
Derrick McClure

IT was a pleasure to attend the committee meeting at the Orkney Theatre last night to see how our elected representatives carry out their duties and also discussing

the proposed Islands Bill. I am wholeheartedly in favour of our communities taking more control of our own affairs. The two world wars of the 20th century had an understandably centralising effect, only now being slowly reversed.

The picture painted by councillors of being close to, and in sync with, the communities that they and the council represent was more than a little rose-tinted. Councillors are not always very good at responding to correspondence.

Alongside the Islands Bill there needs to be an overhaul of local democracy to make it truly representative of the populace.

As well as county councillors being more responsive to questions and suggestions from their electorate, I feel we need to build up the community councils as the first point of contact for citizens with the public sector, and give community councils a toolkit which allows them to access information and advice. The Islands Bill certainly seems like a step forward and I look forward to our island communities benefiting from the work that has gone into it.
Jonathan Southerington
Deerness, Orkney

MICHAEL Fry’s article yesterday was interesting (We’ll not win indyref2 if we put up taxes and discourage growth, The National, October 3). But there is a missing element, and the danger on

focusing on being better off after independence is that it is impossible to demonstrate that in advance.

It depends on so many other factors. The bit that is missing is the social aspect – the point being that with independence we will be in a position to model our society in a way that suits our needs, not those of London and the south-east, and being beholden to the dregs they deign to let us have.

We can produce economic policies that fit our egalitarianism, and produce solutions to our problems in line with our economic cycle without being held back by the need to manage London’s faster pace. Being better off doesn’t necessarily mean financially but being more at ease with ourselves and more comfortable in our society is just as, if not more, important than mere money.
Nick Cole
Meigle, Perthshire