Wednesday, 26 August 2009



Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at “crackpot bureaucracy” after being contacted by a constituent who had a job offer withdrawn at the last moment when European Commission officials realised she spoke Scottish Gaelic rather than Irish Gaelic - despite not needing either language for the job.

Mr MacNeil’s constituent, Anne-Margaret Stewart, was offered a traineeship as fisheries socio-economist with the European Commission Research Centre after demonstrating she could speak two languages, but was contacted just weeks before her start date when HR officials realised she was Scottish and not Irish. The job offer was withdrawn – despite the fact that the post only required communication in English.

Mr MacNeil said:

“ Brussels reputation for crackpot bureaucracy is not helped by this ridiculous discrimination. Ms Stewart was well qualified for the job and passed through the interview stage without difficulty. It was only at the last minute when it was realised she spoke Scottish Gaelic instead of Irish Gaelic that the job offer was withdrawn.

“The fact is that this job only required communication in English, but despite clearly being qualified and capable the offer was withdrawn because officials didn’t know the difference between Scots and Irish Gaelic. Ms Stewart has been treated terribly and these loopy language rules should be changed.

“This job was in the field of fisheries which as an industry, is of key importance to Scotland , and in particular to communities where Gaelic is spoken which makes the decision all the more unacceptable.

“I think people in Scotland will feel badly let down by this shabby treatment, and we should expect a rather more common sense and accommodating approach from European institutions.

“Gaelic is not just part of our cultural life and heritage, it is an everyday living language and it should be recognised as such.

“The situation also underlines the success of the Irish in securing official status for their language and the failure of the UK Government to treat Gaelic with anything other than indifference. Thank goodness we have a Scottish Government that is actively promoting the language, investing in Gaelic education, and encouraging a whole new generation of speakers.

“I will be in touch with my SNP colleagues in the European Parliament and the European and Irish authorities to see if there is a way through the current impasse that would help Ms Stewart take up the post she is eminently qualified for.”

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