Former Yes Cymru leader apologises for failing to deal with abuse within group

  • Watch the full report from Elen Davies

The former chair of Wales' independence movement, Yes Cymru, has apologised for how he ran the organisation.

Siôn Jobbins stood down in July following a difficult few months for the group, which included accusations of transphobia and online abuse between members.

Yes Cymru was first set up after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, with the aim of achieving independence for Wales.

Several independence marches have taken place across Wales

Since then it has achieved growing popularity, with its membership increasing from 2,500 people to more than 18,000 during the pandemic.

After Mr Jobbins' resignation, there was a vote of no confidence by Yes Cymru grass roots groups which led to the resignation of the entire central committee.

Mr Jobbins has said that mistakes were made and things should have been done differently.

Speaking to ITV Wales’s Y Byd yn ei Le he said: “Perhaps I should have seen that we needed to strengthen the constitution. I should have foreseen that with a growth in membership there would be more disputes and things like that.

“I didn’t and I was at fault for that as chair, for not providing that leadership. Good people have been hurt by this and I feel that daily so there is blame on my part.”

A brief history of Yes Cymru

Established in 2014

The group formed in response to the Scottish independence movement, to campaign for Welsh independence.

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Siôn Jobbins is elected as chair of Yes Cymru.

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Yes Cymru organises its first major event with a march through the centre of Cardiff.

This is followed by larger events in Merthyr Tydfil and Caernarfon later in the summer.

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Yes Cymru’s membership surges since the start of pandemic.

It goes from just 2,500 people at the beginning of the year to 18,000 now.

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In May 2021, a new central committee is elected but disagreement over the movement’s equalities policy sparks a long-running dispute between members.

Then in June the group has to release a statement condemning online abuse directed at members of the central committee.

After several months of disputes and controversies, Siôn Jobbins resigns as chair in July.

A few weeks later the entire central committee resigns following a vote of no confidence by grass roots groups.

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Since August, Yes Cymru has been controlled by an external company. It is not yet clear if new elections will be held for a new chair and central committee.

There are now widespread calls within the movement for the group's constitution to be reformed to prevent similar controversies in the future.

Despite Yes Cymru’s recent difficulties, Mr Jobbins insists the movement still has a bright future.

He said: “I’m entirely confident that Yes Cymru’s best years are yet to come. Covid is hopefully coming to an end, less of the discussion will take place on social media and we’ll be able to get back on the streets properly.”

He added: “I think once we can get back on the street and discuss this properly, that will lessen the burden people have felt.”

Catch up with Y Byd yn ei Le here on S4C. The programme has English subtitles.