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Potshots taken at new Gaelic sign


By Will Clark

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Highland Councillor Wille Mackay inspects the newly erected bilingual sign on the main A 99 at its junction with the road to the airport.
Highland Councillor Wille Mackay inspects the newly erected bilingual sign on the main A 99 at its junction with the road to the airport.

BILINGUAL signs have their critics in the far north but the opposition was taken to a different level after one was found to have been used for target practice less than 24 hours after being erected.

The English/Gaelic sign was put up at the junction of the A99 with Wick Industrial Estate on Thursday and it was found to have been peppered with three bullet or pellet holes the following day.

Caithness Highland Councillor Willie Mackay was shocked when he was notified about the incident when he was at Wick John O’Groats airport.

He spoke to council staff who are certain the new sign had been shot at by someone wielding an air gun or air rifle.

He said: "This is just not good enough, I know there has been a lot of controversy over bilingual road signs coming to Caithness and I for one have not been a great supporter of them.

"But there was no need to deface these signs – they cost a lot of money."

There has been a cool reception to the use of bilingual signs in Caithness, with many arguing the county’s strong Norse heritage should make the area exempt from the council’s policy.

Pro-Gaelic campaigners have however shown evidence that in 1881, 3422 people in Caithness spoke Gaelic, with the figure dwindling to 1985 30 years later.

In 2008, eight Caithness councillors put forward a motion that bilingual signs in the far north should be restricted to the Ord of Caithness, the towns of Thurso and Wick and John O’Groats. The move was defeated by 50 votes to 12 in favour of re-affirming a commitment to the Gaelic language plan.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said it had not received any reports of damage to the road sign but asked that anyone with information should contact the force on 101 or telephone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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