Welsh on police cars ‘would be great step’

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Oct 18 18:59:23 UTC 2008

Welsh on police cars 'would be great step'

SIR –Your paper's report from the Language and Conciliation Symposium
held in Bangor is a classic case of missing the point. The theme was a
very important one – how can we ensure the continuing diversity of our
community, and avoid conflict? Indeed, how can mutual appreciation of
languages, faiths and cultures help to defuse conflict and violence in
our society? It is a pity that politicians like Albert Owen and David
Jones jump to erroneous conclusions without first finding out what was
actually said. I was at the symposium, and Richard Brunstrom's
contribution was a very positive one.

His message was clear: that effective policing involves members of the
police force identifying themselves closely with the culture and the
languages spoken in the communities they serve. And he has led by
example. Mr Brunstrom made it quite clear that having Welsh on police
cars was a great step forward, and mentioned in passing that his own
personal preference would be to have the word "Heddlu" as the name for
the police in Wales, much as "Gardai" is used in Eire.

He did not say that this would happen, but made the point to emphasise
that a police force in Wales should identify closely with Wales.

There is no argument about the police operating bilingually, but we
are a long way off having equality between the two languages.

Indeed, Mr. Brunstrom's own data proved that while the number of
police officers having no knowledge of Welsh at all had decreased over
the past five years, the percentage of fluent Welsh speakers in the
force had not increased, and was well below the percentage in the
population at large.

While we should applaud Mr Brunstrom for his attitude to the Welsh
language, the fact that many well-qualified Welsh-speakers are still
being refused entry into the police is still a major cause for

Dafydd Iwan

President, Plaid Cymru,Carrog,Rhos-bach,Caeathro,Caernarfon

Measured response

SIR – The people will lose out from a delay [in a referendum on
further powers to the National Assembly (Letters, Western Mail,
October 11) requires a measured response that will seek to address the
balance of opinion on this matter.

It is wise for politicians such as Peter Hain to cast doubt upon the
success of a national "yes" vote in favour of further powers. Aled
Jones, in his letter, needs to be aware that circumstances for
persuading the public to vote yes are certainly far from favourable.

It is evident that support for Labour is at an all-time low, the Welsh
Conservatives are unlikely, at best, to be passionate about the agenda
and Plaid haven't matured successfully in key populated locations
across Wales.

Furthermore, I could cite a whole host of local failings, across
Wales, that the WAG has been party to.

Nevertheless, I agree wholeheartedly that the current system is far
more productive than the dictatorship that we experienced prior to

In order to establish a baseline for public opinion in favour of
further devolved powers, I suggest that the All Wales Convention, led
by Sir Emyr Jones Parry, communicates with previously supportive
devolutionists who have lived in the populated parts of Wales for most
of their lives before setting out on a route of great optimism for the
WAG to act upon.

I believe that their findings in the densely populated areas of urban
Wales will be disappointing. Following such research, the
pro-devolutionists need to communicate the benefits of further
devolution to the general public who currently live in a low-wage
economy that is heavily dependent on public sector industries.

Gareth Victor Williams

Maes Bodlonfa, Yr Wyddgrug, Sir Y Fflint

Antipathy to Welsh

Sir – Beryl Roberts' letters betray a writer so consumed with
negativity and hatred that she seems oblivious to the vitriol that
spews from her pen.

The last paragraph of her letter (October 8) implies that she is
either ignorant or in denial of the long and glorious history played
by and through the Welsh language in her part of Wales.

No doubt that, were she a teacher in Victorian times, Ms Roberts would
have firmly upheld the Government's educational policy of linguistic
genocide, thereby depriving thousands among a whole generation of
Welsh-speaking children of their mother tongue, as well as their
identity. The consequence of such a policy was to be the cultivation
of a sense of guilt regarding the language, evolving into the shame
and antipathy directed towards Welsh, so typified in Ms Roberts'

Contrary to such claims, the upsurge in demand for Welsh in education
comes from those from the grass roots of the population, seeking the
displacement of that one-eyed monoglot perspective while reclaiming
the language that is rightfully theirs to claim.

Hefin Tomos

Cwrt Teilo Sant, Caerdydd


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