Chwarae teg to The Telegraph
I'd never thought I'd say this, but fair play to The Telegraph. All too often, the (very few) stories in the London papers about Wales, particularly the Welsh language are limited to 'daft' tales about people getting their heads stuck between railings or some lazy piece about the inconvenience that bilingual signs cause to visitors from England.
In the past to days there have been two stories regarding the Welsh language, neither positive unfortunately, but that's not due to the Telegraph. It's important that these injustices are widly reported.
The first, Welsh campaigner refuses to sign prison release forms written in English was about veteran language campaigner Ffred Ffransis' latest stint in prison. He was sentanced to 5 days imprisonment for an incident that happend 8 years ago.
In Parc Prison (in Bridgend, Wales), he was not allowed to take a Welsh New testament with him as they already provide English language bibles. As a vegetarian, he would have had to sign a special form to request vegetarian meals, but as the form was in Enlgish only, he decided not to sign it and there fore ate only potatoes. He was entitled to be relased afer three days, but again was presented wiyth an Englsih only release form , which he refused to sign. Eventually the prison allwed him to be realeased early without signing the form - they probably couldn't wait to get rid of him!
The second was about a Patagonian woman who was sent back to her home country after British immigration officials refused to believe she was travelling to Wales to learn Welsh. Acording to the newspaper paper reviewer on Radio Cymru this morning, this story not only appeared on the front page of the Telegraph, they also wrote a comment piece on it (well, why pass up the change to bash the beaurocrats!).
Both stories seemed to be written in a sympathetic tone.
The second story is quite worrying as many people travel to Wales each year to learn or improve their Welsh. Each summer, Cardiff University hold a four week long intensive residential course (for all levels), which attracts around a dozen Patagonians each time, as well as North Americans, people from Europe and Japan. A similar week long summer courses are held at Coleg Gwent in Abergavenny who also attract learners from abroad. Next year, I've been asked to organise activites for Cymdeithas Madog's trip to Cardiff next year - Cymdeithas Madog are a North American Society who organise annual week long Welsh courses in various locations in the US and Canada, but come to Wales every 4/5 years. Their last visit was to Carmarthen when around 80+ members came along. These visitors spend a LOT (bearing in mind how much North Americans eat and how much Patagonians like to drink - just kidding, guys!), so let them in, for the sake of the Welsh economy.