The Iron Ring petition shows what we can achieve

Llywelyn Ap Gruffydd Fychan Statue, Llandovery. Picture by Gareth Thompson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Izzy Evans

When I started a petition in late July against the Welsh Government’s plans to erect a monument to Wales’ conquest near Flint Castle I had no idea how successful it would be.

Within the week the Culture Secretary Ken Skates announced that they would think again, and now it has been announced that the plan will be scrapped completely.

The story of the Iron Ring is an important one. It shows that when we do raise our voices together we can make change happen.

The Welsh mindset has too often been that we are politically oppressed and that we must stoically trudge on, unable to do much about our circumstances.

But in fact, our biggest enemy is our own apathy. Our present circumstances will continue only as long as we tolerate them.

This is starting to change. The Welsh Government had not expected the response there was to the Iron Ring. And they will think more carefully about such projects in future.

It should also embolden us to push on and make our voices heard on other issues as well. Foremost among these is the need to ensure that our own history is taught at our schools.

A petition calling for the changing of the national curriculum in order to strengthen the teaching of Welsh history in our schools has now gathered almost 3000 signatures.

At the moment, as little as 10-15% of the history taught at GCSE level in Wales has any relevance to our country.

Young people growing up in Wales have little idea of their own culture, their own past – where they’ve come from.

I left school knowing virtually nothing about our history, and only discovered how fascinating it was after a chance conversation with a more learned friend.

I’m now besotted with the sheer wealth of exciting history that Wales has. But many haven’t been so lucky.

Is it really any surprise that some of our young people resent being taught Welsh in our schools? After all, they have very little idea why they’re learning the language. Its significance is lost to them.

It’s no accident, of course, that very little of our history is taught at schools. It’s a deliberate choice to ensure that we appreciate our neighbours’ history better than our own.

We’ve let them get away with it. But no longer – the tale of the Iron Ring, and our success in resisting it, is just the opening salvo of a wider campaign to restore Wales’ history to its rightful place in the national consciousness.

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