Brexit pol­icy ‘will kill the Welsh lan­guage’

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

THE Assem­bly Gov­ern­ment’s re­ac­tion to Brexit could be the big­gest threat to the Welsh lan­guage since the min­ers’ strike says a pres­sure group.

Cymdei­thas yr Iaith’s Ro­bat Idris was speak­ing in re­sponse to the ‘Brexit and our land’ pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, which sets out pro­pos­als for Welsh agri­cul­ture af­ter ex­it­ing the EU.

The re­quest for peo­ple’s views from the Welsh Assem­bly Gov­ern­ment closed at mid­night last Tues­day and re­ceived heavy crit­i­cism from farm­ing unions for not go­ing far enough to sup­port ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties re­liant on agri­cul­ture.

Mr Idris claims the strat­egy out­lined in the con­sul­ta­tion is too re­liant on forestry and tourism - threat­en­ing Welsh speak­ing farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties - call­ing it a “night­mare sce­nario” for the lan­guage.

With 40% of Wales’ 29,000 farm work­ers na­tive speak­ers, the or­gan­i­sa­tion fears los­ing agri­cul­tural jobs will de­stroy Welsh-speak­ing so­ci­eties.

Mr Idris said: “As a group that stood with the min­ers in the 1980s, we see a ma­jor dan­ger that the poli­cies and prin­ci­ples in the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment would lead to eco­nomic and lin­guis­tic dev­as­ta­tion sim­i­lar to that wit­nessed by those com­mu­ni­ties which were de­pen­dent on the coal in­dus­try. With the em­pha­sis on us­ing Wales’ land from forestry and tourism, it ap­pears the Gov­ern­ment wants to take us to the night­mare sce­nario where the Welsh lan­guage dies, with fewer and fewer vi­brant com­mu­ni­ties left in ru­ral ar­eas.”

Mr Idris went on to say he feared the Welsh Assem­bly Gov­ern­ment had opened the door to sub­si­dis­ing com­pa­nies and groups from out­side Wales who would “de­stroy our coun­try’s ru­ral ar­eas.”

He said: “The per­cent­age of farm work­ers who speak Welsh is higher than in any other sec­tor in the coun­try.

“Con­sid­er­ing the fam­i­lies these thou­sands of peo­ple sup­port, tens of thou­sands of Welsh speak­ers are di­rectly de­pen­dent on the in­dus­try to sup­port them.”

Cymdei­thas yr Iaith says Welsh-speak­ing com­mu­ni­ties pre­dom­i­nantly rely on farm­ing, with the vast ma­jor­ity found in mid, west and north Wales.

In some ar­eas, said Mr Idris, the share of farm work­ers who speak Welsh reached as high as 90%.

He added: “In­ter­na­tional ev­i­dence shows these com­mu­ni­ties, with a high den­sity of speak­ers of a mi­nori­tised lan­guage, are es­sen­tial to the lan­guage’s sur­vival.

“That’s why we have sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about the changes the Gov­ern­ment is propos­ing.”

The ‘Brexit and our land’ con­sul­ta­tion ran from July 10 to Oc­to­ber 30.

It sought views from stake­hold­ers on post-Brexit Welsh agri­cul­tural pol­icy.

Cen­tral to the pro­pos­als is land man­age­ment, with no di­rect re­place­ment for Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy (CAP) pay­ments, which has drawn crit­i­cism from Welsh farm­ing unions, farm­ers and agri­cul­tural work­ers.

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