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Gleision - The Unanswered Questions

Working Plan of the Gleision Colliery Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

There is to be no full inquest into the deaths of four miners at the Gleision Colliery, ITV Wales has learned. The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it will now be publishing a report on its investigation into the tragedy.

Three years after the fatal flood at Gleision, there are continuing calls for answers into what went wrong from the victims’ families, the mine owners and local MP Peter Hain.

Talking to Wales This Week, he said he would be raising the issue in Parliament.

Mine owner Maria Seage revisits the mine Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

At least to bring to a wider audience my doubts and my questions, and to speak to the families. Not to re-open the trial, not to seek vengeance, not to try and find scapegoats because I doubt that there are any to be found. This was a terrible tragedy and we want to know what went on, and nobody’s telling us.

– Peter Hain MP
Lee Reynolds, previous surveyor for the Gleision Colliery, speaks out for the first time Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

Wales This Week has uncovered evidence which sheds new light on the history of the mine; confusion about when it was licensed and working; serious doubts about the number and accuracy of underground plans; and a gap in the provision of legally required documentation for the Gleision.

Wales This Week tonight at 8 on ITV Cymru Wales.

Gleision: The Mine Owners' Story

Rescue workers at the Gleision Colliery, 2011 Credit: PA / PA Wire / Press Association Images

Seven years ago, coal haulier Gerald Ward took over a mine in the Swansea Valley. Little did he realise that the Gleision would eventually see him at the centre of worldwide media attention.

Gerald and his sister Maria Seage are partners in MNS Mining, the company found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following the deaths of four miners who died at the Gleision three years ago today.

Gerald and Maria have maintained a dignified silence throughout those three years, but tonight they talk exclusively to ITV Wales about their battle to get the mine up and running and the disastrous events of September 15th 2011.

Maria Seage, MNS Mining Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

Maria says the loss of four men down a mine she owns haunts her constantly.

Honestly it's a struggle everyday, it's a struggle getting through the day.

– Maria Seage, MNS Mining

Gerald explains that when one of the colliers on that day ran to the surface shouting there was water everywhere, everything was flooded, he went down on his knees and prayed.

Gerald Ward, MNS Mining Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

We was all there one minute and then four of the boys have gone... it was devastating.

– Gerald Ward, MNS Mining

Tonight, in the first of two programmes revealing the inside story of Gleision - the convicted conman who promised to invest in the mine, the coal haulier who found himself out of his depth and the big sister who came to the rescue, spending a small fortune on a pit which ultimately claimed the lives of four local men.

Wales This Week, Gleision - The Inside Story. Tonight at 8pm, ITV Wales

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The NATO Summit: What does it mean for Wales and the World?

Anti-NATO protesters marching in Newport on Saturday Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It’s the biggest security operation that Wales has ever seen.

After months of preparation, the NATO Summit is almost here, with over 60 world leaders and hundreds of international delegates descending on Newport and Cardiff. But their welcome won’t be entirely warm, with an estimated 20,000 protesters expected to make their voices heard.

Saturday saw the first of a number of planned demonstrations, with around 600 protesters gathering in Newport. They included Côr Cochion, Cardiff’s Red Choir, who voiced their anti-NATO arguments in song.

Côr Cochion, Cardiff’s Red Choir, in Newport on Saturday Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The strength of feeling is very passionate against what NATO is doing. We didn’t want NATO to come to Wales but now they’re in Wales we want to give them a message, that Wales is a peaceful country, Wales wants a peaceful country for our children, Wales wants hospitals and schools. We don’t want war.

– Ray Davies, Founder member of Côr Cochion

But for others, NATO represents security at a time of increasing international instability. Lord Heseltine, former UK Defence Secretary, told ITV Wales that NATO was absolutely fundamental to British safety:

Lord Heseltine speaks to ITV Wales Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It has preserved the peace of Europe in a way quite uncharacteristic with our history… look at the cost of the Second and First World Wars. The cost in human life, the cost in money. This is just why NATO exists. It’s to stop Europe’s habit of indulging in carnage every generation. And it works.

– Lord Heseltine

So just what is NATO? Why is it here, and what are the arguments for and against? Wales This Week finds out, Tonight at 8pm, ITV Wales

E-cigarettes: A menace or a miracle?

Credit: Tim Ireland / Press Association

Plans to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places would be broadly welcomed by a majority of Welsh people.

That's the conclusion of an exclusive ITV Wales poll, which found that 52% of respondents backed the proposal by Health Minister Mark Drakeford. The Welsh Government will decide whether to go ahead with the plan later this year. But, for many people, e-cigarettes seem to be a life saver. Rob Heyes from Cardigan has suffered serious health problems as a result of smoking tobacco for 33 years. He’s now given up with the help of e-cigarettes.

“I’m furious about it to be honest, that’s one of the reasons people start using these because they can use them indoors, once they've started then they can move onto eventually switching completely.”

– Rob Heyes, Cardigan

Dr Ruth Stone from Llandaff Surgery thinks e-cigarettes are a huge public health success:

“I think they are a very good substitute for ordinary cigarettes, they do provide nicotine which is often needed when one is giving up cigarettes. They don’t supply the tar and the smoke and the tobacco that are harmful to people. So they’re very useful as an adjunct treatment.”

– Dr Ruth Stone, Llandaff Surgery

Almost half of those who answered our opinion poll seem to agree with the doctor. 42% said they think e-cigarettes help reduce smoking and only 15% think they encourage people to take up the habit.

But despite the research suggesting e-cigarettes do help people quit cigarettes, the Health Minister is convinced they normalise the act of smoking. He also claims there is not enough evidence to assume they're completely safe.

“What we have to do is consider the emerging evidence in this field and I have to proceed on the precautionary principle, if there is evidence that e-cigarettes do no harm, but a pile of evidence that suggests that they may be harmful to people's health in the future. Then I cannot afford to take the risk with the Welsh population’s health.”

– Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health
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