Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Saturday, 29 March 2008

Plaid minister urges independence

Elin Jones
Elin Jones is one of three Plaid cabinet ministers in the coalition

A leading Plaid Cymru figure has stressed her commitment to independence at the party's spring conference.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said a European Council of Ministers meeting confirmed her view that small nations can have a role on the European stage.

She had sat behind her UK counterpart and those from Latvia and Malta.

But neither she nor her Scottish counterpart were allowed to talk as the Common Agricultural Policy was discussed in Brussels.

Ms Jones became one of Plaid's first ministers when her party went into coalition with Labour in the Welsh Assembly Government last year.

Now at least Wales is in the room, but the rightful place for Wales is at the table in our own right
Elin Jones AM on her experience of European meetings

It also meant she became the first Plaid minister to attend a ministerial meeting in continental Europe, and she said it was highly important that Wales had a voice at such meetings.

"Ten years ago of course Wales wasn't there at all - nor were Latvia or Malta for that matter," she told delegates in Newport.

"But now at least Wales is in the room, but the rightful place for Wales is at the table in our own right, with our agriculture minister sitting between the agriculture ministers of Latvia and England, or Malta and England", she said.

She told the conference she had always been "totally confident" that Wales would be as able as any other country to govern and represent itself.

"Though the purpose of my visit to the European Council of Ministers was not to confirm my faith in independence - as a member of Plaid Cymru, that was the result."

As part of the deal which led to the coalition, Plaid wants a referendum on turning the Welsh assembly into a parliament by 2011.

However, many within Plaid will welcome this reinforcement by one of its government ministers that independence is the party's ultimate aim.


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