We pay Welsh taxes – so let’s have Welsh banknotes

Steffan Gwent

I’ve noticed that Nation Cymru intentionally refers to what the British Press would call ‘The First Minister of Wales’ as simply  ‘The First Minister’ in order to assert and normalize our nationhood.

The terminology used by a county for the democratic and civic apparatus it uses is of great importance.

The Taoiseach of Ireland is a household name in the UK and more so recently because of endless Brexit negotiation.

We the people of Wales have the power to change the meaning of political terminology. For example about 20 years ago when I would hear the word Llywydd in Welsh I would think of Bill Clinton and his cigars in the Oval Office. Today a more wholesome image of Elin Jones keeping order of our Senedd comes to mind.

If the word Llywydd in the Welsh context can become mainstream and we use the word Senedd a lot more, then why stop there? Surely Prif Weinidog should be used in the same way as Taoiseach.

In Wales we have the right to equal use of English or Welsh for any interaction with the British State, be it verbal or written. The UK Border Force were recently reminded of this right after being sent a letter from the Welsh Language Commissioner for wrongly detaining me at Fishguard harbour following my refusal to take commands in English.

Being a Pharmacist I am pleased to say that prescriptions in Wales are bilingual. Thanks to the dedication of Welsh speaking Pharmacists even the British National Formulary has a bilingual section on cautionary and advisory labels for medicines.

But while green pieces of paper for pharmaceutical transactions in Wales are bilingual the coloured pieces of paper we use for financial transactions remain in English only.

Road signs in Wales were in English only until the Welsh Language Society intervened. The prescription (darnodiad) used to be in English only, so why tolerate banknotes of our currency being in only one of our national languages?

These banknotes also remain covered in the symbolism and history of the British state, and tell us nothing about our own historical achievements, and our own civic national identity.

On Sunday the first Wales-only taxes in 800 years came into effect. If we have Welsh taxes, then surely it is right that the end product of all the hard work – our banknotes – reflect something of our national character?

In order to avoid delay, if a Pharmacist can see that a minor amendment is needed to make a prescription correct then a pen can sometimes be used to write what is needed within the law.

The 1928 Currency and Banknote Act makes it a criminal offence to write on a banknote. To write ‘Pump Punt’ on a £5 note to make it bilingual is illegal, therefore new bilingual banknotes need to be printed.

The ‘Punt’ coincidentally (symbol IR£) was the term used by Ireland for their currency soon after Independence from London rule until adopting the Euro in 2002. The Republic of Ireland now has a Gross Domestic Product double that of Wales.

Along with Llywydd and Senedd let us use Prif Weinidog and Punt in English conversation, we should remember the confidence, and the power and prosperity that derived from that, the use of Gaelic terms such as the Irish Punt Eireannach and Taoiseach helped bring our Celtic cousins across from Cardigan Bay.

Wales must think and speak like an Independent Sovereign State in order to free ourselves from being the peripheral economic backwater of our near neighbour.

Let us look to the light from our neighbor in the west, not the regressive British nationalism developing to our east, and become billions of Punt better off.

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