I WISH to add to the already well-argued points on the catastrophic decision to cut funding for the Gaelic officers scheme, which of course I deplore. These cuts ironically come at a time the Scottish Government is putting through the Scottish Languages Bill. The bill is certainly helpful but goes nowhere near far enough to realise the goal of attitudinal shift leading to equal respect.

In other cultures no-one is put down, marginalised or told “no you can’t because it’s not the dominant language”. Look to Switzerland, often looked on as an exemplar of democracy, where all four languages have equal status despite Romansch having a lower percentage of speakers there than Gaelic has in Scotland. This shows what is truly possible, but we are such a long way from that and the bill is only a cautious and modest step, falling well short of community expectations.

READ MORE: Anger as Scottish Gaelic language scheme scrapped amid funding cuts

However, as I all too often see in business, the Scottish Government is looking at things from a narrow cost perspective. Aside from the aims of the new bill, which would require the sort of initiative the Gaelic officers were doing, there is more than costs at stake here. Sending money to Bord na Gaidhlig is not a cost, it’s an investment. Investments are expected to have a positive return. Costs are simply money out the door.

This funding creates a local job, a person who pays taxes, a job in the local community, a person who spends money in the local community (and in turn those businesses pay taxes), a person who doesn’t need to leave the community to go to the mainland for work as well as the community bonds, a stronger sense of identity and supporting the aims of the very bill the government wants passed. These are net gains that will not be realised if the roles are not funded, therefore the impact to the Scottish economy is wider than just the loss of the funding. Just looking at only one narrow but important aspect, tourism, previous figures show that for each £1 invested there’s a £21 return. That’s exactly how investment works and how we should look at this, rather than cold costs. Warren Buffet got rich on investment and this is the sort of thinking we need when driving a growing Scottish economy and with it the Gaelic economy with local jobs.

READ MORE: Rhoda Meek: Scottish Gaelic isn’t dying, it’s being slowly killed

Often I have seen businesses adopt a narrow cost-based approach only to see themselves struggle down the road trying to deal with yesterday’s problems they should have taken the time to invest in at the time. Lack of investment in legacy IT and then being attacked by hackers being just one example (the NHS, WannaCry virus 2017). Under-investment is an ongoing real cost as we carry the weight of the unsolved problems.

This government must take a much more investment-related approach and look to wise investment where there is a positive rate of return for Scotland. The Gaelic officers scheme has so many benefits culturally, socially as well as economically. It is foolish and short-term thinking to cut this funding at such a critical time and I urge the government to find the financing so that Gaelic can meaningfully embed, grow and attain equal respect rather than be sustained on good will and volunteers.

Craig Cockburn
via email

SOME years ago, before I retired, I floated an idea with Western Isles Council about using video-conferencing to provide remote teaching of Gaelic to schoolkids across Scotland. At that time, most education authorities were using VC but not to its full potential. The idea was for mainland councils to reciprocate by providing course experts to the islands in areas of the curriculum where they lacked teachers. It fell on deaf ears but, given the explosion in more accessible VC technology, couldn’t this help not only bridge any funding gap but make our language available to a much wider audience, whilst addressing teaching resource shortages in remote areas?

Ken Rooney
via thenational.scot