‘Shambolic’ Gaelic language body should have been dealt with, say MSPs

MSPs have accused the Scottish Government of failing to deal with a “shambles” at the public organisation for promoting the Gaelic language.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Friday, 25th September 2020, 9:59 am

Widespread problems and organisational failures were identified at the publicly funded Bord na Gaidhlig in an audit report last year.

MSPs heard that numerous concerns were raised about Bord na Gaidhlig providing inaccurate information, its financial stability, poor levels of scrutiny, a lack of transparency with staff and the board not understanding their roles.

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Facing questions from Holyrood’s public audit committee, Bord na Gaidhlig’s chief executive and chairwoman both said the quango had made ­“significant progress” improving the organisation.

But during the evidence session – described by convener Anas Sarwar as “very robust”, and “extraordinary” by MSPs Adam Tomkins and Graham Simpson – concerns were raised about the apparent failure of the Scottish Government to identify and act on the problems faced.

Neither of the Scottish Government witnesses, who have a responsibility for the public funding awarded to the organisation, were able to identify any of the key performance indicators that could identify success or failure within the organisation.

Mr Simpson said the Gaelic team in the Scottish Government, led by Douglas Ansdell, “didn’t keep a grip on what was quite clearly a shambles”.

He added: “I am astonished that the Scottish Government can come here and not tell us what they expect from Bord na Gaidhlig.”

Mr Tomkins said the organisation’s progress was from a “very low bar” and some of the errors described in the audit report “are so basic that frankly they beggar belief”.

Scottish Government’s education director Paul Johnston told MSPs he was “concerned” by the 2018-19 audit and said: “It was very clear that a significant programme of improvement would require to be undertaken with pace and urgency to address the issues.”

Mr Sarwar said: “It looks like it is drowning in the detail of a failing organisation.”


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