US fund to help Welsh nationalists: Americans 'will send money and lawyers, but not guns' to Wales

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The Independent Online
EXTREMIST Welsh nationalists are likely to benefit from a fund-raising organisation aimed at tapping support from the 2.5 million Welsh Americans wishing to help the old country.

A Los Angeles lawyer, Rees Lloyd, set up the fund which will have a wide-ranging role, supporting education, economic and development initiatives as well as legal issues.

He is aware that this could lead to the organisation being dubbed a 'Welsh Noraid', but said this would not divert him from supporting extreme nationalist causes, such as providing financial and legal support for the appeal of Sion Aubrey Roberts, from Anglesey, jailed for 12 years on explosives charges.

He also wants to provide help for the seven members of a Meibion Glyndwr colour party - activists who carry the colours at nationalist marches - arrested for wearing prohibited uniforms at the annual march at Abergele, Clwyd. They were later released on police bail and have not been charged. Meibion Glyndwr is behind firebomb attacks on English-owned homes in the Principality.

'As a Welsh American I don't want to see us go in for misty-eyed nostalgia. We want to establish meaningful links with Wales and that means providing money. We are not going to send guns, but we will send money and lawyers,' Mr Lloyd said.

He found aspects of the colour party arrests and the trial of Roberts disturbing. Gareth Davies, a co-accused of Roberts, had been remanded in custody for 15 months before being acquitted. 'That cannot be justice. When incidents like these happen it is right that people should take a look at them. That's what we will be doing. It does not mean we support violence.'

He added: 'I think the Queen should be more worried about her own family undressing rather than charging a few Welsh youths for wearing white shirts, ties and berets.'

While in Wales last month Mr Lloyd discovered Sainsbury's in Bangor, North Wales, was selling California grapes that were subject to a boycott by farmers in the state due to an industrial dispute. As a lawyer he represents farm workers in California. Mr Lloyd quickly organised a picket at the store.

The fund is named Twm Sion Cati after a Welsh Robin Hood figure. Or as Mr Lloyd puts it Robin Hood is an English Twm Sion Cati. The impetus for the organisation came from a much-publicised lawsuit in the US, instigated by Mr Lloyd, to stop the media using the phrase 'welching'. He persuaded the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal and the NBC television channel to outlaw the phrase as offensive.

The publicity generated encouraged many Welsh Americans to take an interest in their roots. Mr Lloyd and fellow activists want Welsh Americans to support their home country and take a pride in their heritage as Scots and Irish Americans do.

On a recent visit he discussed setting up a base for Twm Sion Cati at Trefor, on Anglesey, the 'most Welsh' village in the Principality where 97 per cent of the population speaks Welsh. The centre will focus on legal issues, education and development. It is hoped to find financial backing and advice for Welsh entrepreneurial efforts.

Trefor Williams, who runs a small stationery company in the village and has been liaising with Mr Lloyd, said: 'We are in a recession and businesses in this part of the world in particular are finding it difficult. Funding and expertise from Welsh Americans can help.'

The emergence of Twm Sion Cati was cautiously welcomed by Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party. Its general secretary, Dafydd Williams, said: 'He is obviously a colourful character keen to strengthen links between Wales and the US which have been eroded over the years and have been confined to sentimental matters. '

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