03/04/2014 09:41 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT

CEO of Royal Gaelic College weighs in on royal controversy

ST. ANNS, N.S. - The CEO of the Royal Gaelic College in Cape Breton says the school's board of governors is carefully considering a proposal to drop the word "royal" from the institution's name.

Rodney MacDonald says he understands that people feel passionately about the issue.

The former premier of Nova Scotia was responding to reports that the foundation that operates the college voted Sunday to drop the recently acquired royal designation.

Controversy erupted in December when some in Cape Breton's Gaelic community complained the addition was offensive, saying the move ignores the fact that most Gaelic-speaking migrants who sailed to Nova Scotia in the 1700s were forced out of the Highlands following battles with the English.

Meanwhile, a member of the Nova Scotia legislature is keeping up the pressure on the college to change the name.

Allan MacMaster says the royal designation can be considered "a slap in the face" to those who know their Gaelic history.

"Maybe they see it as part of their heritage and they don't care about other people's heritage," MacMaster said. "It's a complete insensitivity. It's emotionally draining and I don't think they realize that what they are being is very hateful."

MacDonald says he doesn't know when the board will release its decision.