WE write in strong support of the views expressed by MSPs Kate Forbes and Alasdair Allan for tough, positive action for Gaelic and the urgent need for local people to be able to buy, build or rent homes in their own island and rural communities ("Gaelic housing estates and regulating second homes… race is on to save a language", The Herald, December 26). The Vernacular report was a wake-up call to keep Gaelic as a living language in the islands but whilst welcomed in some quarters, it has been met with, at best, complacency, by Bord na Gàidhlig, the national agency entrusted with saving and promoting the language and culture.

It is essential that, with a national census looming that will add further concern to the future of the language in its heartlands, we learn lessons from the Basques and the Welsh who have seen much success in this respect.

In the immediate future, it is crucial that a post-Covid Gaelic action plan is quickly developed and rolled out, led by the Scottish Government, and with the cross-party support Gaelic has enjoyed in Holyrood. Apart from immediate action relating to the research piece that has sparked this debate, education must be central to such a plan. The impact of Covid on Gaelic education, particularly early years and transition to secondary, has been hugely disruptive.

The relationship between the economy, jobs and housing and the future of Gaelic as a community language is as important now as it was 300 years ago, when the then-planned destruction of Gaelic culture started taking place. More needs to be done to create a Gaelic domain where those with proficiency can use it in an applied and natural way; the recently adopted policy of the Western Isles Council which recognises Gaelic Medium Education as the default position should add to the number of speakers, but that does not put food on the table. The key factors to keep young Gaels in their own villages and communities is affordable housing and employment.

This all requires leadership and community buy-in; surely one of the first decisions regarding Gaelic of the next Scottish Parliament. Young people in particular should influence such decisions and whether Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which many feel has run out of ideas and credibility, should be entrusted with this task is highly debatable; this is something we feel that Scottish Government should lead on given its importance.

Dr Michael Foxley, Ardgour, and Professor Bruce Robertson, Nairn.


DAVE Henderson (Letters, December 28) claims we are heading for a police state as laws are being brought in to enforce pandemic rules.

Over the past couple of days I have been made aware of someone who travelled home from London to G12, someone who lives in Bristol posting pictures with their family in Glasgow, and as I have previously mentioned, the London crowd who appear to have decamped to their holiday homes in South Devon where my daughter stays. I’m sorry, but if these “Covidiots” cannot understand simple plain English statements and advice like "do not travel out of level 4 areas to minimise spread of new variant" then hell mend them. Enforce it with laws. We are already seeing cases where it appears the Kent strain has been exported to Europe.

If folk are too stupid or arrogant to adhere to advice then perhaps a substantial fine or worse will focus their attention.

Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs.

* I HEARTILY agree that masks should be worn when outside ("Scots should be told to wear masks outdoors, medics say", The Herald, December 28). It’s the only way to help fight this virus. First Minister of Scotland and Prime Minister of the UK please note.

Barbara Steel, Bishopbriggs


I LOVED Rosemary Goring’s article ("Spending Christmas away from Florence is like waking up to no gifts under the tree”, The Herald, December 23). As a frequent visitor to Italy’s quieter regions out of season, I felt I could step into that tiny Tuscan hillside town “in the frozen silence taking in the white lights strung across the narrow medieval streets… only marginally brighter than the frost that glittered on the cobblestones and the stars overhead”.

That idyll also raised a wry smile when it reminded me of a line from the sitcom Frasier when Niles, the fastidious psychiatrist, was describing a rural Tuscan hilltop town where a local craftsman made the most beautiful leather shoes. Each pair was lovingly crafted and the final result so exquisite that the people of the village gathered together when a pair was completed and the church bells rang out in celebration.

At the end of this tale, Niles’s brash colleague, looking at him in disbelief, finally commented: “Boy! There’s a town that really needs a bowling alley!”

Worlds apart, but I know which one I prefer.

P Dunbar, Newton Mearns.


I KNOW there is huge catastrophe going on in the world so this must seem pathetically trivial. However, am I the only arthritic pensioner who has real difficulty in opening these ridiculous laundry/dishwashing liquitab containers? It is all very well tugging on our heartstrings to save poor wee Junior – but how about the safety of us oldies who after pressing, pulling, squeezing, tugging, throwing at the wall, end up resorting to a knife or scissors to get into the blasted thing?

It is more than likely that we oldies will injure ourselves and end up in A&E, than wee Junior – who shouldn’t be able to reach the top shelf anyway.

Linda FitzGerald, Killin.