The Son of the Valleys Guiding Wales' Destiny

Article excerpt

Byline: By Martin Shipton Western Mail

Britain's former Ambassador to the United Nations has spoken of how every time he heard a police alarm as a boy in the Valleys, he feared there had been another mining disaster.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, who will be chairing a convention looking at extra powers for the National Assembly, has been accused of being out of touch with ordinary people because of his long diplomatic career spent outside Wales.

But yesterday he spoke to the Western Mail with pride of his Welsh roots, saying that, "No-one, in all my life, could have been mistaken for more than 10 seconds that I am not Welsh.

"I happen to have made my living representing the UK, but that includes in particular representing Wales, and I have tried to do that all the time. There are 191 colleagues (at the UN) for whom a mad Welshman represented the UK."

Asked how he promoted Wales during his stint in New York, he said, "Britain as a whole is attractive. Why? EU membership, deregulation, the City of London more and more competing and winning against New York. But now with Wales you get even more, because the deal is, it's special, it's the reception, the climate, the people, a different experience but a wonderful experience. I keep preaching that gospel.

"Wales has changed in all sorts of ways. The obvious one is ... I lived for five years in Mountain Ash. There were five coal mines in the Cynon Valley in those days.

"Environmentally in Abercwmboi you had the world's worst coking plant. But the Valleys are transformed today. Coal mining is, to all intents and purposes, in the past. I have lived through these changes, so any wit out there who thinks I do not know my country is way off, in all sorts of ways.

"I am a Welsh-speaking Welshman who has lived in seven places in South Wales. I've got roots throughout North Wales as well. How else has Wales changed? There's new technology, and modernisation - all the positives. …