50 years on from original Welsh-language protest “the struggle is by no means over”

crop2 IMG_9106A RALLY today celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of a sit-down protest on an Aberystwyth bridge that sparked the revival of the Welsh-language movement.

But Robin Farrar, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said that the “struggle” was “by no means over”.

The crowd of around 300 gathered in Owain Glyndŵr Square in Aberystwyth town centre before marching to the site of the original demonstration on Trefachan Bridge.

In 1963, a group of students held a sit-down protest on the bridge in protest at the court system operating in English only.

Farrar said “Cymdeithas and other people who have taken direction action and protested have won very important concessions for the Welsh language over the years, In my opinion, various governments over the years have actually stood in the way, so there’s been a real achievement. We have seen the establishment of S4C, the Welsh-medium channel, we saw Welsh road signs, and finally in 2011 with the Welsh Language Measure, we saw some degree of official recognition for the language for the first time in certain respect, so it has won a lot of important things.

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Robin Farrar, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg

“But the struggle is  by no means over, because I believe to secure a living future for the language we’ve got to protect these communities where there’s a high percentage of speakers, we’ve got to re-invigorate some of the communities here in Ceredigion where the percentage has fallen steeply in the last few years, we’ve got to reverse that decline, so that’s why we’re still on the streets today, calling for more action.

“[The student movement] is absolutely invaluable; students were holding a rally yesterday, I was at their gig last night. Protesting and changing the world isn’t all serious, there’s a lot of fun in it as well, and students always bring that to bear in protests, but they have always also been willing to sacrifice and to put their futures and careers on the line sometimes – when you talk about lawbreaking – and that is absolutely critical. It’s their future, they’re fighting for their own jobs, their own communities, but really quite selfless as well, so it’s really quite important.”