Submitted to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 16/01/16
The name Airdrie is believed to be derived from the Gaelic An Àrd Ruigh, meaning a high pasture. The high ground near Blackhill transmitter is Duntilland, Dun being Gaelic for a fort, and this area would may well have had such a fortification in the vicinity. One only has to look at an Ordnance Survey map to see examples of Gaelic in use across the country: An Teallach, Stob a’Choire Odhair, Meall na Tarmachan; to those who know them they are expressive names which their English language equivalents cannot match. For hillwalkers across Scotland they also provide a constant source of argument as to their pronunciation! The Gaelic language has roots here and while not in common everyday use in Airdrie, is still very much part of our heritage. I was therefore pleased to see the recent commitment by North Lanarkshire Council to recognise Gaelic as a living language and their publication of a five year plan to that end, as well as beginner’s classes in the language. I was less pleased to see Coatbridge Labour MSP Elaine Smith attack the Labour run North Lanarkshire Council when they advertised Gaelic classes with the slogan “Interested in learning Scotland’s native language?” Mrs Smith appeared to take offence at the claim Gaelic was Scotland’s native language. She then responded to criticism of her stance with concerns about NLC funding of this project. This really is beyond belief! Mrs Smith has been a loud and vocal champion of Irish cultural events in Scotland. In March 2012 in an article about the St Patricks day celebrations in Coatbridge it was reported that she had said that “I have called on the Scottish Government to look at ways of assisting cultural festivals such as this to grow and develop.” She has also said that she is “proud of my Irish heritage”, and that “the Irish Catholic vote in Scotland has remained unconvinced of Scottish nationalism.“ Why is it that Irish culture is good and should be funded, but Scottish culture should be sneered at and it’s funding questioned? Why should she try to create a religious divide on the subject? Is it because Mrs Smith is a committed British nationalist, and that a Scotland divided by sectarian and religious lines is less of a threat to the British state than a united one? Similarly, the eradication of one of our native languages by starving it of recognition and funding would be just another tactic in the process of destroying a sense of Scottish national identity and replacing it surreptitiously with a common British identity. That must not be allowed to happen.