Anniversary of One Wales Is a Time to Shout about Success of Bilingual Policy, Says Veteran Plaid Activist; 'More People Have Taken Ownership of the Language'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 4, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Anniversary of One Wales Is a Time to Shout about Success of Bilingual Policy, Says Veteran Plaid Activist; 'More People Have Taken Ownership of the Language'


Byline: David Williamson

SHARING power with Labour has given Plaid Cymru the opportunity to turn bilingual policy into action for the first time, Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas has claimed.

Speaking just days ahead of the first anniversary of the One Wales coalitionpact between Labour and Plaid, the veteran activist said the Assembly Government now had the power to protect and promote the Welsh language.

He said: "The One Wales Government has taken on board the need to ensure there's a political driver from Government now. It won't happen just because you have a policy."

Mr Thomas - who as a teenager was arrested for dumping English-language road signs outside a police station - confirmed that the party would still consider sharing powers with the Conservatives after a future election.

He said: "That would always be a difficult option for me, not impossible... the one thing which I think is important in politics is you never, ever turn down the opportunity to be in power, because it's only when you're in Government you have the opportunity to do things."

Akey goal is seeking the transfer from Westminster of power to make laws relating to the Welsh language.

It is expected the Assembly Government will request the ability to pass legislation affecting the private sector.

Mr Thomas believes a transformation in attitudes to the Welsh language has taken place during his lifetime and that Government leadership is essential for further progress to continue.

He said: "Not only has the language stopped being a political football, I don't think it is divisive any longer in Wales as it certainly was at one time. You can understand the tensions and the confrontations.

"There were people, me amongst them, who were actively campaigning to save the language at the time."

Now, he said, the Assembly Government was battling to keep up with demand for Welsh-language provision.

He continued: "It's a matter of giving people opportunities. The one area where the demand for provision through the medium of Welsh cannot be met at the moment - and we're facing that challenge now - is Welsh-medium education.

"Everywhere you look in Wales at the moment, the demand for Welsh-medium education is greater than the provision."

He is a former chairman of CND in Wales whose political roots are in the protest movement, but he insists his motivations remain the same.

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Anniversary of One Wales Is a Time to Shout about Success of Bilingual Policy, Says Veteran Plaid Activist; 'More People Have Taken Ownership of the Language'
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