A group of learners and non-Welsh speakers have called on the Llywydd Elin Jones to drop her plans to impose an English name on the Senedd, in an open letter to her today (Friday, 31st May).
In a joint letter, around fifty signatories, including former Labour leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Phil Bale, Vale of Glamorgan Conservative candidate Ross England, and former director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru Steve Brooks say they believe that sticking with the Welsh-only name Senedd “would send a strong message that the Welsh language genuinely belongs to everyone regardless of their background.”
Last year, the Llywydd Elin Jones stated that the National Assembly would change its name to a Welsh-only one, the Senedd. The decision followed a statement by Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford that he supported a monolingual Welsh name. However, since then, the wording of the Bill changing the name of the Assembly has been published and includes the English name “Welsh Parliament” on the face of the legislation, a wording which breaks Elin Jones’ commitment last year.
The open letter from Welsh learners and non-Welsh speakers states:
“In the communities in which we live, we use Welsh-only names all the time, in the names of villages and towns right across the country. We are proud of the words of our national anthem which belong to, and include, everyone, not just Welsh speakers. These are things that are special, and close to our hearts, because they are in the unique language of Wales. It is not fair to say that we do not understand Welsh-only names. We have the right to celebrate these uniquely Welsh things as much as anyone else, and no-one has the right to say otherwise.
“We are concerned that a number of the arguments used against a Welsh-only name are patronising to hundreds of thousands of people in Wales, who support the language but cannot speak it. … Many people already call the institution 'Senedd'. By giving the Senedd an English name too, as you are planning to do, you will inevitably normalise that name and undermine the use of the Welsh name.”
“... And if we can all say 'Dáil' or 'Bundestag' without the need for an official English description - why can't we do the same with 'Senedd'?
“We call on you to show confidence in our unique language, confidence in Wales and all its people - whether they speak Welsh or not - by giving our Senedd a Welsh-only name, a name that can belong to us all.”
Welcoming the letter, Osian Rhys, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, added:
“From speaking to lots of people at the Eisteddfod about the issue this week, it’s clear that the vast majority of people support the campaign. And the letter shows how much cross-party support there is. It’s about time the Llywydd listened to all these voices. After all, adopting a Welsh-only name and brand is a chance to reinforce the idea that the language can include everyone, from every background. It’s a chance to say that we can be a united Wales in one language, whatever our background or our first language.”
A member of the youth Senedd, Gwion Rhisiart, will speak on the Senedd steps at 2pm today giving his support for the campaign for a Welsh-only name for the institution.