CANADIAN teacher Sìne Halfpenny has accepted that she will not be coming to Scotland for her dream job as a teacher of Gaelic after the vacant post on the island of Mull was filled.

The National told how MSPs and MPs took up Halfpenny’s case after she was refused a visa by the Home Office. At the time she was the only qualified applicant for the job from anywhere in the world, and Argyll and Bute Council was prepared to sponsor her for the visa.

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The position did not pay enough to satisfy Home Office criteria and the council had no option but to re-advertise the vacancy at Bunessan Primary School.

Now Halpenny and others are calling for special treatment for descendants of the Scottish Diaspora trying to live in their ancestral homeland.

She told The National: “Growing up in the Gaelic-speaking region of Nova Scotia, the youth of the Diaspora are instilled with a deep sense of exile that we are not in our homeland and that we must make the best of the situation.

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“For generations of Gaels here, the biggest aspiration is to go home to Scotland, even just for a visit. To have been deemed unworthy of a working visa as a Gael from a Commonwealth country, as a Clearances descendant, leaves me speechless.

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of my advocates, even though we were unsuccessful this time. I have worked hard to retain my fluency and hopes of being able to teach in an immersion unit. I hope someday that that will be possible.”

Halfpenny’s case was mentioned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her keynote address to the SNP conference in Aberdeen.

She said: “Our message to everyone who has chosen to build a life here in Aberdeen, or anywhere in Scotland, is this – you are welcome and we want you to stay.

“Westminster’s hostile environment is not just a slogan. It has a real impact on our communities, our schools and our hospitals. Recently, a school on the Isle of Mull struggled to fill a Gaelic teaching vacancy.

“Eventually, a teacher from Canada applied for and got the job.

“And then she found herself blocked by the Home Office. When John Swinney took up the case with the UK Government he was told they wouldn’t even send a reply.

“Well, the Tories might not reply to us. But I think we should reply to them. Drop your anti-migrant obsession. Drop it now and put our school pupils first.”

Ariel Killick, an Australian-born descendant of Scots forced to emigrate has immigrated to Scotland and campaigned for Halfpenny.

She said: “Sìne and I are currently looking at setting up a Canadian-based petition in relation to Diaspora Return Immigration to facilitate the hearing of Diaspora voices on this and build awareness and advocacy on the matter.

“I have also been in touch with a number of SNP politicians seeking to input on this specifically as part of the upcoming National Assemblies, and advocate for change and a Diaspora Return Immigration policy as part of the ongoing discourse on our future in an independent Scotland.”