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Memorial marks 150 years since Welsh voyage to Patagonia

A new memorial marking 150 years since a Welsh community was established in Patagonia has been unveiled at Princes Dock in Liverpool.

The voyage to South America set off from Merseyside in May 1865, carrying 153 people.

Their aim was to save the Welsh culture and language which they believed was under threat in their native Wales.

The community still exists in Argentina today, with a population of more than 70,000.

First Minister Carwyn Jones described it as "a remarkable story for a language like Welsh to thrive, all those years, across the Atlantic."

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Centre developed to mark anniversary of Welsh emigrants to Patagonia

Over a million pounds has been awarded to the creation of a new tourist and heritage centre within a church in Llanuwchllyn, Gwynedd, to mark the 150th anniversary of first voyage of Welsh emigrants to South America.

The church will now be turned into a community and visitor space.

The Heritage Lottery Grant will restore and bring the Grade II listed Eglwys Deiniol Sant back into use for the first time since 2006 and will include an exhibition space to share the story of the first Welsh colony in Patagonia in 1865.

Eglwys Deiniol Sant was built in 1873 on the site of a medieval building.

"Llanuwchllyn has such a rich history and as we mark 150 years since the Mimosa's (the ship that carried the Welsh emigrants) voyage to Patagonia, we're thrilled to be able to support a new local heritage centre and help them celebrate this important anniversary."

– Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales

"No substance" to language plan say Cymdeithas

The Welsh Language Society, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, held a 36 hour vigil on the Senedd steps before the First Minister's announcement on government action to support the language. Their chair, Robin Farrar, criticised Carwyn Jones for "delay and lack of ambition".

There was no real substance in Carwyn Jones’ statement today. The Government has been promising an announcement for weeks and it’s been a year and a half since the Census results. All we have here is a draft of a policy - when will we see them act? The report says that the Welsh language will be core to the definition of sustainability in the Future Generations Bill - this is encouraging but there is no move to make the language a material consideration within the planning system.

There is further delay and a lack of ambition in terms of education, we are calling for Welsh education for all - there is no clear aim, and no reference to the foundation phase. And although the figure of a £1.2 million investment in the Welsh language, there is only a £400,000 increase - the rest is money being shifted around, and not extra money. It is clear that the Government understands what areas need to be addressed but there are no significant steps, or bold and innovative plans still, and there's no detail.

– Cymdeithas Chair Robin Farrar

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Language announcement "disappointing" say Plaid

Plaid Cymru have said they're disappointed by today's announcement on more support for the Welsh language.

In the three years since the census, we have been waiting for action by the Welsh Government, but all we have had is a series of consultations, endless investigations and empty statements, with no rigorous action.

It’s high time we saw some progress on the Language Standards so as to ensure appropriate provision for the Welsh language for public service consumers and a rapid move towards ... Language Standards which extend those rights to the health service and areas such as transport.

We are still waiting for details regarding the designation of areas such as Carmarthen, Aberystwyth and Bangor-Menai as growth areas for the economy and the Welsh language. Similarly Plaid Cymru is of the opinion that we must move towards having every child receiving Welsh-medium education at the Foundation Phase.

The Welsh language must be treated as we would treat anything which is endangered – we must use all our resources to protect it. This is a battle that Wales cannot afford to lose.

– Plaid Cymru Welsh Language Spokesperson Simon Thomas AM

Economy key to language's future says Carwyn Jones

The First Minister has told AMs that £1.6million will be spent over the next two years to strengthen the link between the Welsh language and the economy and create more opportunities for people to use the language every day. £400,000 will be for a pilot to improve how businesses use Welsh.

Most of the rest of the money will develop the work of the existing Mentrau Iaith (Language Initiatives) around Wales, which encourage Welsh language activities. The policy states that councillors and other local leaders must take greater responsibility for the language. Other commitments include:

  • to change the system of learning and teaching Welsh in English-medium schools to ensure that all pupils in Wales are supported to speak Welsh confidently
  • to improve the planning of Welsh language provision in pre-school education and childcare
  • to launch a national campaign to change people’s behaviour so that they are encouraged to use the language more in their daily lives

The consultation was launched in response to the results of the 2011 census, which showed an unexpected drop in the numbers of Welsh speakers. The First Minister said it's still a draft policy and he wants to hear from the public before a final announcement at the Eisteddfod.

There is no denying that this is a crucial time for the Welsh language. The next decade will show whether or not we have succeeded in responding to the results of the 2011 Census. The [consultation] put particular emphasis on Welsh in the context of the economy and the community. I am convinced that these are central challenges and therefore I’m pleased that we have been able to invest in projects which maximise the link between the language and the economy as well as organisations that promote and facilitate the use of Welsh at grass roots level.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

First Minister to make statement on Welsh language

First Minister Carwyn Jones is to make an oral statement in the Senedd on the Welsh Government's Welsh language policy later today.

It follows a Government consultation over the future of the language, after the latest Census showed the number of Welsh speakers in Wales had fallen over the last 10 years.

The protesters want the Welsh Government to adopt six measures including Welsh language education for all

Members of the Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith set up camp outside the Senedd yesterday as part of a campaign calling for greater investment in the language.

"More action needed" to nurture Welsh speakers

The Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr iaith have called on the Welsh Government to take more action to nurture Welsh speakers.

Members of the group held an all night sit in outside the Senedd ahead of an announcement later on the government's Welsh language policy.

They say little has been done by the Government since the release of census results 18 months ago, which indicated a drop in the number of Welsh language speakers in the country.

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