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  1. ITV Report

Language group Cymdeithas yr Iaith refuses to answer UKIP questions

A row has erupted in the Senedd after Cymdeithas yr Iaith (The Welsh Language Society) refused to answer questions by UKIP in a committee hearing on the basis the party promote and tolerate prejudiced attitudes.

Credit: PA

The organisation were due to appear in front of the Assembly's culture committee but their invite has been withdrawn after they indicated they were unprepared to answer Neil Hamilton's questions.

He's UKIP's Welsh leader and is the party's representative on the committee.

The committee are taking evidence as part of its inquiry into Welsh language standards.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg criticised the decision as 'undemocratic' and 'extremely disappointing'.

This undemocratic decision by the National Assembly is extremely disappointingand is a dreadful reflection of the state of politics today.

The Assembly exists to promote an open and fair discussion.

It's not only that the members of the committee are embracing UKIP's prejudice with open arms but they are blocking a platform for us, who support rights for the Welsh language and for other minorities.

Through the last Assembly term, we co-operated with all the parties in the Assembly, although, at times, we have disagreed with a number of them. However, as a group we have agreed that we would not co-operate with UKIP because of their prejudice.

UKIP has promoted and tolerated prejudiced attitudes against a number of groups in our society – gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people, ethnic minorities, migrants, people withHIV - and the Welsh language.

We cannot treat them like any other party.

– Heledd Gwyndaf, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith
Cymdeithas yr Iaith indicated they were unprepared to answer questions from UKIP's Welsh leader Neil Hamilton. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

UKIP's Welsh leader said he hoped the language group would soon 'grow up'.

I was looking forward to a constructive exchange of views with Cymdieithas yr Iaith and I read their written evidence with great sympathy.

They do no favours to the Welsh language by their puerile display of ignorance and bigotry.

All Assembly Members are equal as elected representatives of the Welsh people and the Assembly cannot be dictated to by extremists.

13% of the Welsh people voted UKIP last May and a 52% voted for Brexit in June.

It is bad politics for Cymdiethas yr Iaith to insult them as prejudiced.

I personally support the Welsh Government's aim of making Wales a bilingual nation and I hope Cymdeithas yr Iaith will soon grow up.

– Neil Hamilton, UKIP Welsh leader

The National Assembly said it was not for witnesses to 'dictate' who is allowed to ask questions.

The decision of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee was taken unanimously by Assembly Members who were democratically elected by the people of Wales.

They have a duty to ask questions on behalf of constituents as well as on behalf of the Assembly as a parliamentary body and both of whom are entitled to answers.

It is not for witnesses to dictate to an Assembly Committee who is allowed to ask questions.

Decisions about inviting witnesses to give evidence are for individual committees to make on a case-by-case basis.

– National Assembly for Wales spokesperson

Bethan Jenkins is the Committee chairwoman.