Independence March Hits the Road Again

Geoff Ryan reports from the Wrexham/Wrecsam rally on Saturday 2 July. Additional reporting Keith Sinclair.

 

After a two year gap because of Covid a march for independence for Cymru finally took place in Wrexham/Wrecsam last Saturday, 2nd July. The police estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 people, mostly dressed in the red of YesCymru (and the Welsh rugby and football teams, as well as the dragon on the flag of Cymru), took part.

The march was organised by All Under One Banner (AUOB)  Cymru, Indy Fest Wrexham and YesCymru. Despite earlier attempts by Tory and Independent councillors to ban it the demonstration assembled at Llwyn Isaf green outside the Guildhall before marching through Wrexham/Wrecsam and returning to the green.

Speakers at the rally included Pol Wong from Indy Fest Wrexham, Tudur Owen (comedian and broadcaster), Carrie Harper (Wrexham/Wrecsam County councillor), Evrah Rose (poet and activist) and Archdruid Myrddin ap Dafydd.

Roopah Vyas from ‘Her Game Too’ also spoke. She not only brings up the increasing role of women in football but also of the relationship of football to the national question in Cymru. The Football Association of Wales has had a much closer relationship with the independence movement in Cymru than the Welsh Rugby Union, a relationship that has been buoyed up by Wales reaching the finals of the World Cup in Qatar in the autumn and the adoption of ‘Yma o Hyd’ by Dafydd Iwan as the supporters’ anthem. Naturally Dafydd led a rousing rendition of the song at the rally.

Adam Price (leader of Plaid Cymru) and Liz Saville Roberts (leader of Plaid Cymru in Westminister) were both in attendance as were many Plaid supporters. There was also a video message of support from Mary Lou McDonald President of Sinn Fein in Ireland.However the Labour Party was invisible and barely mentioned though Dylan Lewis-Rowland who spoke on behalf of Labour for an Independent Wales was well received by the audience.

In fact the Labour Party was holding its own conference in Cardiff where it voted overwhelmingly to increase the size of the Senedd from 60 to 96 members – in line with its agreement with Plaid Cymru. While there can be some debate about the decision to go for a closed list system (with gender balance) rather than STV this will nevertheless allow for a much more proportional election system – and therefore a much more democratic electoral system – than the fundamentally anti-democratic First Past The Post system used for Westminster elections.

The march last Saturday can be seen as a major success, not least because it had been postponed for two years because of Covid and because of the major problems experienced last year by YesCymru. But it is also important to recognise that Wrexham/Wrecsam is close to the border with England and has so far been relatively uninterested in the independence issue. It even elected a Tory MP at the 2019 general election. So the turnout gives hope that things are beginning to change and that the independence movement is beginning to advance into the English speaking areas of North East Wales.

The next march for Independence will be held on October 1st in Cardiff.


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Geoff Ryan is a member of Undod, YesCymru, Labour For An Independent Wales, and Carmarthen East & Dynefwr Labour Party.


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