A news report from Scotland on the alleged vandalism of a bilingual Scottish and English language road sign that one might dismiss as media hyperbole if it were not for the fact that such stories are quite common in the Gaelic nations. From the Scotsman newspaper:
“A BILINGUAL road sign was blasted by gunfire a day after it was put up – prompting fears that it was targeted by anti-Gaelic protesters.
The sign on the A99 next to Wick Airport in Caithness was found to be vandalised less than 24 hours after it was erected. SNP councillor and Gaelic speaker Alex MacLeod last night said he feared the vandalism had been motivated by strong anti-Gaelic feelings within the community.
The sign was installed at the Wick industrial estate junction at North Road last Thursday.
By Friday morning, passers-by noticed the sign had been shot three times. The vandalism had left a number of dents, but did not pierce through the metal sign.
In 2008, eight Caithness councillors put forward a motion that bilingual signs in the far north be restricted, but they were defeated by 50 votes to 12.
In 2010, the Prince of Wales, attending the Royal National Mod in Thurso, said he would question suggestions Gaelic had no direct relevance to Caithness.
He said: “The suggestion has been made that the language has little or no direct relevance in this part of the world. If I may, I might just gently question that view. I would suggest Gaelic … belongs to all the people and communities of a nation, whether they or not they are actively involved with it.”
Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd requested the local authority put up a directional sign at the airport to provide information to visitors heading into the town centre, John o’ Groats and other places.
Under the terms of the Highland Council’s policy, such a sign would have to include Gaelic, as only street name signs do not need to be bilingual.”
Of course when you have local Anglophone councillors comparing Scottish-speakers to the Nazi Party and 1930s’ Germany it is hardly surprising that communal passions are running high in Gallaibh. As Irish-speaking communities and citizens in Ireland know all too well, Anglophone fundamentalists make for unfriendly neighbours.