THE quango responsible for spreading the gaelic language across Scotland wants to spend £130,000 – teaching itself how to communicate in gaelic.
The Bòrd na Gàidhlig already has an annual budget of around £5m to promote gaelic – currently spoken by just 1% of the population – as “an official language of Scotland”.
But the board has been branded “ridiculous” for spending a six-figure sum to get advice on grammar, how it sounds, and guidelines on how to write it.
Critics have been left dumbfounded at the prospect of already “accomplished Gaelic speakers” spending taxpayers’ cash to be “schooled” in their own language.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig opened up bidding on a contract – which they reveal is worth £130,000 – to provide themselves with the service on Tuesday.
The winner of the contract will be charged with providing “advice” to a board of “accomplished Gaelic speakers.”
This is to include “advice on Gaelic linguistics” and “a description of the main grammatical issues facing the modern language.”
It will also include an online space for the board to present new words they have invented and approved to the Gaelic-speaking community.
The contract outlines that they expect bidders to have high levels of academic experience of the language.
But opponents of the scheme have hit back at the contract.
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Everyone understands Gaelic very much has a place in Scottish culture.
“But the Scottish Government needs to rein in this drive, which people suspect is politically driven more than anything else.
“The public will see it as ridiculous that those overseeing this SNP push need to be schooled in Gaelic at the cost of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”
Eben Wilson – president of Taxpayer Scotland – added: “This sounds horribly like a nice-to-have service at great taxpayer expense for something that recipients may not value all that much.
“Has anyone taken a long hard look at how this money could be best spent?
“There are so many calls on public funds that esoteric initiatives supporting linguistic competence do have to be questioned.
“What we are seeing here is the bureaucracy of centrally planned aspirations hard at work gobbling the money of the less well-off taxpayer”.
The deadline for bids for the contract is set at February 22 – and the winner is expected to be announced shortly after.
The board is responsible for ensuring that all government bodies are in line with the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.
Under the act all government services must fall in line with the national Gaelic language plan – which requires them to promote and encourage the use of the language in their ranks.
But the plans have been faced much harsh criticism in the past.
Earlier this week the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) revealed proposals to train emergency response staff in the language, prompting remarks that the government has an “obsession to push Gaelic at all costs.”
And last year Police Scotland faced ridicule online when they unveiled their new helicopter – which was branded with the words “Poileas Alba” on the side.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig interim CEO, Bruce Robertson defended the spending, describing Gaelic language and culture as “national treasures of Scotland”.
He said the project was identified as a priority of the Gaelic community.
Mr Robertson said: “As well as looking for a more structured provision of Gaelic language resources, the survey also identified a need for greater consistency in new Gaelic terminology. While it is essential we have strong historic foundations for the language, it is a living language and requires to keep up to date.
“Bòrd na Gàidhlig has a statutory obligation to ensure the development and continuation of the Gaelic Language in Scotland and this project is essential for this.”