4 Arrested at Language Protest

brantano-peacocks.jpgAt 12.30pm today (Saturday 14/10), around a 100 members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) marched to the new ‘Ystwyth Retail Park’ site in Aberystwyth, in order to hold a Protest Rally. During the protest four members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith - Gwenno Teifi, Geraint Edwards, Ceri Phillips and Siwan Tomos - were arrested for spraying the message “Deddf Iaith Newydd” (New Welsh Language Act) on the front of the new Brantano Store.

The protest was organised because all of the external signage in the brand new Retail Park is in English only, and because many of the shops that are trading there such as Peacocks and Brantano have refused to display any Welsh language signs.The protest had started quietly outside Siop y Pethe in Aberystwyth, where Gwenno Teifi, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Aberystwyth University branch, Town Councillor Mark Strong, and Menna Machreth, President of Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth addressed the crowd.The speakers emphasised that Aberystwth Town Council and Ceredigion Council ask each and every business moving in to Aberystwyth to adopt a bilingual policy, but that only a very small minority chose to do so because there is no legislation forcing them to adopt any such policy. Menna Machreth said:“Not only are we asking these stores to adopt a bilingual policy, but we are also asking them to sell local produce, by doing so they would not only support the local language and culture, but also the local economy.”The protest moved on from Siop y Pethe, and on their way to the retail park, protesters placed stickers calling for a New Welsh Language Act on the windows of the new ‘Espresso’ Chip Shop in the town, another example of a company moving in to the town without adopting any bilingual policy.At the Ystwyth Retail Park, a massive new development in Aberystwyth, Sian Howys - Cymdeithas’ Welsh Language Act spokesperson, addressed the crowd. She said:"I challenge Rhodri Morgan to come down to a new English-only development of this kind, to clearly see the need for a New Welsh Language Act.”She also referred to the fact that members of Cymdeithas’ Aberystwyth University Branch had previously visited the shops at the Retail Park to enquire about their language policy, and the response from Brantano Footwear was - “There's no need for Welsh since we're all British.”After spraying the slogans, member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith occupied the Brantano store for 30 minutes. Sian Howys emphasised that staff would not have to face any such protests if there were adequate linguistic legislation in place.The four members arrested are still being held in custody.