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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Language demo branded 'bullying'
Protesters following Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan surrounded by activists at the eisteddfod
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has said attempts by Welsh language campaigners to disrupt his visit to the National Eisteddfod will not influence him.

The Welsh Language Society, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, followed him around the site at Y Faenol, near Bangor, on Tuesday with placards and a loudhailer.

The society wants a new Welsh Language Act giving Welsh equal status with English in the private sector.

Mr Morgan said: "Bullying tactics will never work."

If they think that's the right way to influence people, I'm afraid that they'll learn the hard way that it isn't
Rhodri Morgan

The protesters said they wanted a meeting with Mr Morgan to discuss the issue of a new Welsh Language Act.

Currently, all public bodies must provide a bilingual service, but some campaigners want to see the same rules extended to include private companies.

Mr Morgan said the protests would not influence his views.

He added: "People like that have to learn is that bullying tactics will never work with a democratically-elected government.

"If they think that's the right way to influence people, I'm afraid that they'll learn the hard way that it isn't." An assembly government spokesman added the actions of Cymdeithas yr Iaith had been inappropriate.

"We are happy to debate Welsh language issues and we feel we have a very strong record in promoting the Welsh language," he said.

"Unfortunately the actions of these bullies will only weaken the perception of the Welsh language agenda across Wales."

Language rights

The war of words broke out on the day the Welsh Language Board called for greater rights for Welsh speakers as part of its new strategic plan.

But in its plan, the board stopped short of calling for a new Welsh Language Act.

Instead, it called for Welsh to be promoted through continued government support and co-operation with the public and private sectors and set out 11 priority areas for the language.

Picture of Welsh Language Board logo
The language board is due to be abolished in 2007

These include advising bodies on how to facilitate the use of Welsh, ensuring that language rights are incorporated in the equal opportunities agenda in Wales and encouraging the use of the language in the private sector by raising awareness of the advantages of Welsh to business.

The quango, which is to be subsumed by the assembly, has said it wants its work promoting the Welsh language to continue after it is abolished in 2007.

Set up in 1993 under the Welsh Language Act, the board's main aim has been to promote the use of the Welsh language.

In July 2004, first minister Rhodri Morgan announced that most Welsh quangos will be abolished within two years and in November of that year said the Welsh Language Board would be added to that list and its duties and staff transferred to the control of the assembly government by 2007.

Quangos - which stands for quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations - are semi-independent publicly-funded agencies used by the assembly government.


SEE ALSO:
Talks sought over quango cuts
30 Nov 04 |  Wales


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