FIRST Minister Rhodri Morgan: I can champion Welsh language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Jan 13 16:02:02 UTC 2008

I can champion Welsh language
Jan 12 2008 by Eryl Crump, Daily Post

FIRST Minister Rhodri Morgan went walkabout in North Wales yesterday
to stress his government's commitment to the Welsh language. He told
shoppers and language protestors in Caernarfon he would do his utmost
to protect and develop the language in its heartlands of North and
west Wales. Mr Morgan argued Labour was a strong defender of the Welsh
language and a champion of the region. He said: "We will do the work
needed on the language in the same way we did the work needed to
ensure devolution and the securing of Objective One funding. "Everyone
accepts that the future of the language is an important issue and the
key to its survival and development in the heartlands is economic

"If we can secure that prosperity it will create jobs that will keep
young, Welsh-speaking people in these areas. "They may leave the area
to go to college in their early 20s but they could be attracted back
when they have finished their education and begin the next cycle of
Welsh speakers." Mr Morgan does not support the call for a new Welsh
Language Act, which has been demanded by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg
(Welsh Language Society) and some Plaid Cymru supporters. But he wants
the Welsh Language Board to be given powers to fight quangos and local
authorities on behalf of individuals. About a dozen members of
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg followed Mr Morgan as he spent an hour
walking around Caernarfon.

Society spokesman Steffan Cravos said there was an urgent need for a
new Welsh language act. "We have campaigned for companies like
Morrisons to introduce a Welsh language policy in their stores. What
Mr Morgan says – that there is sufficient goodwill among big companies
to voluntarily introduce a Welsh language policy – just isn't
working," he said. Veteran campaigner Angharad Tomos quizzed Mr Morgan
about the future of village schools. He pointed out the Welsh Assembly
may be called on to make final decisions.

The 68-year-old First Minister, who underwent emergency heart surgery
last May, also chatted about his health with shoppers. A woman, who
asked not to be named, told him about her treatment at a Southampton
hospital last year. As he headed home Mr Morgan said: "I will take
back what I hear and work with my colleagues to deliver better health,
better education, greater wealth and stronger communities."


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