Modest sum to promote Gaelic

THERE are a number of factual errors in AA Dewar's letter ("SNP not talking my language", 23 May).

It is not and never has been the policy of the Scottish Government – or the SNP – to "foist" Gaelic on anybody. We are simply promoting the cultural, historic and economic significance of one of Scotland's native languages while responding to demand where it exists.

It is true I made a speech in Gaelic at a meeting of the EU Council of Education Ministers in Brussels. A wide range of European languages were also used at this gathering and Irish Gaelic. The significance was that this was the first time Scottish Gaelic has been spoken in the EU and I am proud to have been the first minister to do so. It gives the language visibility and modern significance which are key to its survival.

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I am not sure where Mr Dewar obtained his information about the SNP building three primary schools and a Glasgow college for Gaelic teachers but he is misinformed. There are no such plans. I am, however, a supporter of Gaelic education and I would like to see this grow and expand in Scotland.

The current financial support for Gaelic is not as Mr Dewar says "an overspend". Compared to resources for, say, the protection of biodiversity, the sums are modest. Losing one aspect of our "three-voiced nation" would cost us much more in tangible and intangible terms.

Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning