Strong, decisive action needed to save Welsh language says Plaid leader
Plaid Cymru has called for strong and decisive action to be taken to support the Welsh language across Wales after the 2011 census figures showed a drop of 14,000 Welsh speakers in Wales compared to a decade ago.
Although there were gains in the number of speakers in areas such as Cardiff, Caerphilly, Monmouth and the Vale of Glamorgan, the party is deeply concerned at the steep decline in the number and percentage of speakers in western counties, as well as the lack of progress in other parts of Wales.
The party said that the Welsh language belongs to everybody and is a crucial part of many people’s Welsh identity and culture which should be valued and cherished.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM said:
“The Welsh language is a crucial and integral part of Wales, in our identity and our culture. The Welsh language belongs to everybody and must be valued and cherished throughout our society.
“Today’s figures are disappointing and I’m sure citizens across Wales will be concerned about the decline in the number of Welsh speakers across the country. These are very clear warning signs for the future of the language and there must be a decisive response.
“A Plaid Cymru Government would introduce strong measures and take decisive action to support the Welsh language in those communities where Welsh is the everyday language for most people, as well as promoting not just the learning, but the use of Welsh in communities all across Wales.
“We must ensure that Welsh is used not just in the classroom but in the home, at work, and in social situations, right across the country.
“The Welsh language must be a key consideration in both local and central decision making. As sustainable development is placed as a central organising principle of Welsh government, Plaid Cymru believes that the sustained development of Welsh as a living language has to be central to that process.
“This has to relate to all decisions made by government in Wales, across the Welsh public service - whether it’s with regards to planning, economic development, schools, housing, the provision of children’s services, within the NHS and so forth. A holistic approach must be adopted by all decision makers if we are to ensure a vibrant, healthy future for the language.”
Plaid Cymru’s Welsh language spokesperson Simon Thomas AM said that improving the Welsh economy must be at the heart of Welsh language revival across Wales.
The AM for mid and west Wales said that only a strong economy would be able to support Welsh speaking communities.
Simon Thomas AM said that Welsh Government support for the language must go further and faster, including support for small businesses, the rural economy and for community organisations such as mentrau iaith and papurau bro. He said that the public sector must also play its role in creating jobs where Welsh language skills were used on an everyday basis.
The Party of Wales spokesperson on the Welsh Language Simon Thomas AM said:
“The Welsh language strategy for the next decade must recognise the importance of the economy upon the future of the language and the future of Welsh speaking communities.
“If Welsh speakers from those traditional areas are to stay in their communities then they need to have economic opportunities to keep them there as whatever the welcome gains made in education, language rights or the media only a strong economy will make these Welsh speaking communities viable in the long term.
“But it is no good for us to pay lip service. The National Assembly and the Welsh Government must play a significant role in supporting new businesses and entrepreneurship in Welsh speaking areas.
“During the One Wales Government Plaid Cymru insisted and delivered on a Welsh medium education strategy and a Welsh language measure; the positive effects of which are yet to be reflected in census statistics.
“The Welsh Government’s new taskforce is welcome but we must move further and faster – using the public sector to secure jobs where Welsh is a part of daily life, greater support for mentrau iaith and papurau bro and support for Welsh language businesses in the rural economy.
“We must pay attention to the standard of Welsh, giving learners the opportunity to improve language skills and ensuring that everybody has the chance to use Welsh in all walks of life.”