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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Language protests at Eisteddfod
Tent at eisteddfod
Activists gather support at the eisteddfod
Two protests over the future of the Welsh language have taken place at the National Eisteddfod at the end of a week of growing conflict over the issue.

Around 200 members of the Welsh Language Society/Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg have gathered at the Welsh Assembly pavillion

Beforehand protesters marched round the field with a bed,calling on Welsh politicans to "wake up".

The group wants a new Welsh Language and Property Act.

Rhodri Morgna., Assembly First Minister
Rhodri Morgan: Stepping into language row
Earlier on Friday 300 people took part in another demonstration by protest group Cymuned whose focus is also to protect communities which it says are threatened by incomers from England.

Stolen estate agent signs were dumped on the floor of the Welsh Assembly pavillion.

Their message was that the Assembly had failed them.

Plaid Cymru which along with Labour has urged restraint in what has become an increasingly bitter row, came in for even heavier criticism by Cymuned's members.

Plaid AM's were told to do the job that they were elected to do rather than disappear to Prague or Provence on holiday.

The demonstrations mark the climax of a week of conflict over the future of the Welsh language.

The festival - the highlight of the Welsh cultural year - has been hijacked by the language and race issue.

Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan has appealed for calm over the issue, saying there was a danger of English people feeling unwelcome in Wales.

That was particularly worrying in a week when Wales hopes to attract thousands of visitors to the Welsh open golf championship, the Charity Shield, Brecon jazz festival and the Eisteddfod, said Mr Morgan.

Plaid Cymru, whose councillor Seimon Glyn started the row over the migration of English people into rural Wales six months ago, has also urged restraint.

Cymuned tent at the eisteddfod
Campaigners voice their concerns at the Maes

The rallies come at the end of a week which has seen a stream of interventions and allegations on the language issue.

Former head of the Welsh Language Board, John Elfed Jones commented that "outsiders" coming into Wales were the equivalent of "human foot-and-mouth disease".

A member of Plaid's National Executive, Gwilym ab Ioan, was forced to resign after claiming on an internet news group that Wales was becoming 'a dumping ground for oddballs and misfits'.

The allegations prompted Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent Llew Smith to brand Plaid Cymru " fundamentally racist".

In his attempt to calm the furore Rhodri Morgan maintained it was perfectly possible to have a debate on the future of the Welsh language without couching it in xenophobic terms which threatened to shatter the consensus.

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne also said any rational debate about the Welsh language could not be conducted against a background of "racism and incitement to hatred".

BBC Wales's Colette Hume reports
"The eisteddfod draws to a close but the language row shows no sign of abating"
BBC Wales's Rhys Evans reports
"It has been impossible to avoid the debate on the Welsh language"
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