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YesCymru’s largest group considers folding following controversies

21 Feb 2024 5 minute read
YesCymru independence march in Merthyr Tydfil. Lluniau gan / Pictures by Lluniau Lleucu

Emily Price

YesCymru’s largest branch is set to vote on whether to dissolve the group entirely following recent controversies concerning the organisation’s board.

The Cardiff group of the pro-independence organisation is responsible for about 1000 members – 75 of which have opted in to attend meetings as active members.

It had previously been led by one of YesCymru’s founding members, Iestyn ap Rhobert who stepped down as chair last week amid claims that YesCaerdydd had been “partially cut off” by the organisation’s National Governing Body (NGB).

YesCymru’s board came under fire last year over its decision to sack former CEO Gwern Gwynfil via email along with two other directors who raised concerns about whether the move was justified.

The board accused the two directors of behaving in an “obstructive, aggressive, deliberate, and planned” manner.

We obtained a report by a disciplinary panel which concluded that “the purported dismissal of the two co-opted directors was unlawfully done and as a result is null and void.”

However, YesCymru’s board dissolved the panel and did not follow through with any its recommendations.

Trolling

One of the ousted directors claimed to be subjected to online trolling and harassment by an anonymous account on social media which she believes is connected to the NGB.

Nation.Cymru journalists have similarly been the target of online harassment for covering YesCymru controversies.

The current NGB says it has since drawn up a framework for another independent investigation to probe recent complaints.

Following several tip offs from whistleblowers, Nation.Cymru launched an investigation which unearthed evidence of internal conflicts, accusations of malpractice in the administration of the elections and possible breaches of company law at the pro-independence organisation.

A leaked video of a YesCymru board meeting revealed disagreements over legal fees racked up by the board relating to the termination of the CEO, written resolutions, the status quo of YesCymru and the minuting of meetings.

YesCaerdydd’s former Chair, Mr ap Rhobert had previously raised concerns about the organisation’s governance and had openly supported the former CEO and the two removed directors.

He called for an “inclusive meeting” to discuss recent events with members after the news of Mr Gwynfil’s sacking was broken to the press.

However, YesCaerdydd found that the two Q&A meetings scheduled via YesCymru’s Zoom account had been cancelled and access to the organisation’s HQ Nation Builder account had been blocked.

The accredited group still has no access to these accounts.

The largest group in Wales will now hold a meeting to either vote for a new chair or dissolve completely.

We understand that some members plan to quit “en masse” in protest against the decisions made by YesCymru’s board in recent months.

Membership

A YesCaerdydd member who did not wish to be named for fear of harassment said: “As a long standing member of YesCymru and active member of YesCaerdydd, I feel that I can no longer justify paying a membership fee to an organisation who is engaging in corruption, is no longer aligned to my beliefs relating to Welsh independence and is misusing my membership money.

“I want them to use my money to further independence, not their own personal agenda. It is a real shame that it has come to this as there was real momentum, but I want more than flag waving. I will be more than happy to rejoin when the organisation is once again trustworthy and representing me as a member.”

We reached out to Mr ap Rhobert for a statement but he did not wish to provide one.

The recently re-elected Chair of YesCymru, Elfed Williams said: “On the 1st of February representatives of each YesCymru Regional Council and the National Governing Body met to discuss the issues that have been raised by members including those in the Cardiff Group.  Following the meeting it was agreed that a remit and framework for an independent investigation would be drawn up.  That task has now been completed and agreed by the representatives of each region including an agreement to share the remit with all members of YesCymru.

“A steering group to support the investigation has been appointed which includes one member of the Cardiff YesCymru Group.  The task of the steering group is to make sure that the investigation has access to all the required documentation and information required by the investigator.

“We are now in the process of identifying a person that will lead the investigation and hopefully will be announcing the appointment soon of an independent person that will look into the issues raised, including those raised by Mr ap Rhobert.

“It is for each individual to make their own personal decision if they wish to continue to serve YesCymru as a volunteer, an officer of a Group, on the Regional Council, Council of Deputies or NGB.

“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome five new Directors, Michael Murphy, Sam Murphy, Robert Hughes, Aled Jones, James Dunckly and Maria Prichard who have made that decision by volunteering to sit on the National Governing Body following recent elections.

“The vast number of members continue to support the work carried out by YesCymru as demonstrated by membership numbers having remained steady throughout the last six months and only recently the National Governing Body received a letter of support from over twenty three groups and regions representing every part of Wales supporting the work carried out by the Directors and staff.

“The majority of members and officers of groups throughout Wales wish to see the independent investigation run its course and for those few members who wish to continue to stoke conflict, to put it aside, and concentrate fully on campaigning for an independent Wales.”


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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 month ago

Wow! The Unionists must be grinning with joy ! They need to do nothing, the Welsh independence movement is disjointed and in a complete mess! This sort of in fighting – and Plaid had a good go at doing this fairly recently too- is setting the cause back years! It’s time everyone got it’s act together, we all want the same thing at the end of the day, for goodness sake!

HarrisR
HarrisR
1 month ago

*We need an independent investigation into the independent investigation. And a remit and framework group to oversee the framework and remit of the investigation into the investigation!

All those in favour raise both your hands…where has everyone gone?”

No wonder there is no timetable to Independence!

Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago

Michael Murphy, Sam Murphy, Robert Hughes, Aled Jones, James Dunckly and Maria Prichard add up to six new Directors. Also, are the two Murphys related in some way? It’s not an especially common surname in Wales.

Last name Murphy
Last name Murphy
1 month ago

Thats more than a little racist. Or can you only support independence if you are an ap or an ab ???

Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago

What on earth is racist about it? I’d have asked exactly the same question if there had been two people with an uncommon surname of Welsh origin such as Cadwaladr or Leyshon. Obviously anyone can support independence though I would be uncomfortable if the Independence movement were dominated by recent incomers to Wales.

Bill
Bill
1 month ago

Yes, what little things we can find controversial! Kinda models the problem.

Dr Yates
Dr Yates
1 month ago

The two Murpheys are not related, but Rob Hughes is the wife of current director Naomi Hughes (there is no reason a married couple cannot sit on the same board – it is common in family companies – but one may ask if it is in the spirit of representation to have a whole region represented from one house). Aled Jones was a coopted Director and has been finance lead for the last year so while he was elected (unopposed) in this round he is not a ‘new’ Director. In fact he has been instrumental in the recent issues and… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago

Why don’t those certain members put their differences aside at least until after the declaration of independence. Nothing is more important than our nation gaining independence. It doesn’t matter whether or what position a member holds in its executive as long the executive works at maximum efficiency – YC is not a political party contesting elections. The task for YC involves campaigning in communities, building support for independence, and getting as many senedd members in favour of independence elected at the next senedd elections. Also, the UK is holding its own general election and we need to build up strength… Read more »

Dr Yates
Dr Yates
1 month ago

This is not a difference of opinion or ideological difference – its about claims of illegality and misuse of funds. The independence movement is sunk if its main organisation is corrupt. No one will take it seriously. Members are leaving because they do not want to be associated with wrongdoing and do not want their membership money misused. The members own YC. I would argue that independence is more important than any of this. Those who seek to see it happen are ensuring their voices retain credibility by distancing themselves from corruption. Those who have been shown to have broken… Read more »

robin campbell
robin campbell
1 month ago

Why disband when an investigation is due to take place?

Dr Yates
Dr Yates
1 month ago
Reply to  robin campbell

Because there is no confidence in the investigation. Two investigations were already called. One was just ignored. The other was covered up because they didn’t like the outcome. Why would anyone trust an organisation that is allowing one of the people being investigated to lead the investigation into himself? They have already voted to take no action regardless of the outcome of the investigation into the misuse of funds. Its a farce. If you believe the investigation is anything more then a stitch up and a distraction the I’ve a bridge to sell you.

JRD
JRD
1 month ago

That would be the same Cardiff member and “leading figure” who has now been at the center of three internal schisms in YesCymru.

Once is unlucky, twice co-incidence but three times …quite clearly a legend in his own lunch time !!!

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago
Reply to  JRD

I agree too many coincidences.

FrankC
FrankC
1 month ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

The people running YesCymru now are clearly incompetent, to say the least. I support the cause of Welsh independence as much as ever but I’m not wasting anymore of my time or cash on these bullies and clowns.

Dr Yates
Dr Yates
1 month ago
Reply to  JRD

Or who has survived two attacks and been pushed too far by this one? The leading figure wrongly accused by the current board for trying to speak to members? Leading figures tend to be involved in leadership issues due to them being leading figures. Why would a leading, founding member of an organisation try and destroy said organisation three times? If they wanted YC dead it would have made more sense to keep quiet and let the current chair continue to drive it into the ground!

And
And
1 month ago
Reply to  JRD

He was on the board on two of those occasions. Hard for him not to be “involved”.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

We can either continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, giving ammunition to those unionists who want Wales to remain the broke backwater English appendage void of hope they prefer, or unite and grow a strong independence movement that can shine the spotlight on Westminster that Wales will only prosper if we become a free independent country with the ability to trade without the constraints of Whitehall rather than remain forever the poor relation in a United Kingdom that only represents two countries, England & Scotland, and fiscally favours only one. England.

Dr Yates
Dr Yates
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

We cannot unite over a shared support for corruption. It makes a mockery of the whole movement and leaves everyone involved open to criticism. When independence is closer and the unionists really come for us there will need to be squeaky clean voices they can’t criticise. The movement needs to unite against corruption; show it will not tolerate it in any form and make that a USP of an independent Wales. In the absence of that, those who do not support corruption will naturally distance themselves from it.

Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
1 month ago

If you tell me YesCymru hasn’t been infiltrated…I’m likely to call you a liar.

Hedd
Hedd
1 month ago

It hasn’t. It’s always been about egos.It’s so sad, but we move on.

Dr Yates
Dr Yates
1 month ago
Reply to  Hedd

You are so right, but you seem to be supporting the egos and ignoring whats best for the organisation and the movement.

Hedd
Hedd
1 month ago

Sandy and Elin started the group in Caerdydd. Brilliant people. Diolch Sandy and Elin.

Hedd
Hedd
1 month ago

Diolch i Sandy am sefydlu YesCaerdydd.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

I ddyfynnu Gwyn Thomas:
“Y gweddill sydd yma, beth ynt ond pirana, mewn powlen yn difa ei gilydd.”

Bill
Bill
1 month ago

Come back Siôn Jobbins, all is forgiven,

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