Outrage and old arguments

17th December 2004 at 00:00
Hugh Donnelly's reasoned article on the creation of a separate Gaelic secondary school in Glasgow has provoked an astonishingly strong response.

Yet, beneath the outrage, I detect an old argument, that of Gaelic speakers being a special case - an unrecognised, discriminated-against minority.

Your two letters and article last week refer to "making sacrifices . . .

being reviled . . . targeted . . . and the victim of a conspiracy".

This barrage was in response to a teacher and member of the Educational Institute of Scotland who is on record as supporting the promotion of Gaelic education. Hugh's article has upset a certain minority because it highlights how the setting up of a separate school is in direct contradiction to Executive educational policy of comprehensive education based on diversity, integration and inclusion.

Leaving aside the unfortunate and inappropriate personal attacks and misrepresentations, I want simply to concentrate on the weakness of the special case argument which lies at the heart of the proposed new school.

When I was a teacher student at Jordanhill College, a similar argument raised its head. A group of students objected to the amount of anti-racist teaching on the course and argued that it was disproportionate, given that there was no time on the course to promote the rights of Gaelic speakers.

They argued that Gaelic speakers are an oppressed minority in the same way as Urdu, Punjabi or Cantonese speakers. The majority of students on the course quite rightly adopted the view that Gaelic speakers do not suffer the same discrimination or oppression as other ethnic or linguistic minorities.

Given this and the relative size of the Gaelic-speaking community, compared to the Urdu, Punjabi, Cantonese, or even French, Italian and Spanish communities in Glasgow, what indeed is the special case for Gaelic speakers?

Maureen Watson Hotspur Street Glasgow

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