Plaid Cymru politician and 'Clwb Ifor Bach' founder Owen John Thomas dies aged 84

The Plaid Cymru politician served as an Assembly Member (AM) for the South Wales Central region from 1999 to 2007 Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The founder of Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff and former Assembly Member Owen John Thomas has died at the age of 84.

The Plaid Cymru politician served as a Assembly Member (AM) for the South Wales Central region from 1999 to 2007.

Mr Thomas served as Plaid Cymru's spokesman for culture, the Welsh language and sport during his time in the Assembly.

He wrote a book on the Welsh language in Cardiff and helped found the music venue on Womanby Street known as Clwb Ifor Bach or, to generations of students, the Welsh club.

In 2013, Mr Thomas was diagnosed with dementia.

The Plaid Cymru politician, Owen John Thomas served as a Assembly Member (AM) for the South Wales Central region from 1999 to 2007. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

His son Hywel, who worked for him during his time in the Assembly, and said: "He loved Wales, its people, language, and culture with a passion. He was driven by a desire to see Wales freed from the constraints of Westminster to determine its own affairs.

"All he ever wanted for his country was fairness and the powers to lift the people of Wales out of poverty and give them a fighting chance of a better future. Progress was slow, letter after letter, inch by inch but he kept going and never gave up...

"My father never tired of walking through the streets and arcades of Cardiff city centre, stopping and chatting to people along the way – sometimes frustratingly so for me and my siblings. But the reward for our patience was a visit to the Sarsaparilla Bar in Morgan’s Arcade. There, we would sit on the high barstools at the counter sipping our Sarsaparilla and Burdock feeling like grownups."

Leader of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, appealed for people's votes. Credit: ITV Wales Sharp End

Leader of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, extended his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Owen John Thomas.

He stated: “We remember him as a formidable campaigner and tireless advocate for the Welsh language and Welshness in Cardiff.

“He made a significant contribution not only to his community but also to Plaid Cymru.

“From campaigning for the rights of Allied Steel and Wire pensioners and Welsh Language Education in the capital to playing a part in shaping Plaid Cymru's strategy after the 1979 referendum - he made a lasting contribution to Welsh politics, both locally and nationally."

Former ASW employees and pensions campaigners Phil Jones and John Benson said Mr Thomas would always have the utmost respect of everyone involved in their campaign.

He said: "He did so much for us regarding our pension miscarriage of justice, we at ASW will always be proud to have known a legend of a man who helped so many, a man and a politician who could always hold his head high."

Welsh Labour MP for Cardiff Central, Jo Stevens tweeted on X (formerly Twitter) : Very sad news from the Thomas family about Owen John Thomas, the founder of our iconic Cardiff Central live music venue.

"Sending sympathy to his family and many friends."

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