Current Affairs

Speak Welsh? Get Out!

Welsh Not – Anti-Welsh Racism In Britain

Imagine moving to France or Germany, taking over the management of a local bar, and then demanding that all the customers speak English in the bar or get out? Outrageous no? Such seems to be the situation in a court case being reported in Wales where an English landlord is on trial after threatening and banning Welsh-speaking customers from his pub in a Welsh-speaking region of Wales.

From the Daily Post:

“A pub landlord brandished a gun in his own bar after a row with customers who’d been told not to order drinks in Welsh, a court heard.

Gareth James Sale, 26, denies possessing a firearm – an air rife – with intent to cause fear of violence at the Royal Oak, Penrhyndeudraeth in the early hours of June 18 last year.

Outlining the case at Caernarfon Crown Court today prosecutor Sion ap Mihangel said Sale, originally from Bedfordshire, and his then partner had taken over as temporary licensees at the pub.

Both were from England and didn’t speak Welsh.

Sale told police he’d drunk eight units of vodka and his partner “significantly more” between 3pm and midnight that day.

Mr ap Mihangel said: “He described her as being argumentative with locals.”

He said Sale’s partner confronted locals and “told them to order their drinks in English.”

“She became very aggressive and it eventually culminated with the Welsh drinkers being told to leave.”

Mr ap Mihangel said: “The defendant left the bar area and went upstairs later returning carrying a gun in his hands.”

Witness Alys Owen said she’d gone out for a drink with her partner Philippe Murphy and heard the landlord and landlady telling locals not to speak Welsh by the bar and not to order their drinks in Welsh.”

Another example of the attitudes born of Anglophone supremacism. Of course it is only a few years ago that Irish-speaking employees were banned from speaking their own language in a foreign-owned Gaeltacht-based company in Ireland until threatened with legal action. I myself have experienced discrimination in the workplace because I have used Irish, including being ridiculed by a former manager and told that I shouldn’t be working or living in Dublin if I wanted to speak “…that language”. I have also been attacked in public for even the most casual use of Irish by those who object to its very existence. Or perhaps more accurately the existence of those who speak it or those who don’t speak it but who still identify with the language and regard it as their own.

2 comments on “Speak Welsh? Get Out!

  1. To be clear here, the drinks orders were being taken by bar staff, who do speak Welsh, so this unlovely couple had absolutely no grounds for complaint.

    Only last year, not far away in Anglesey, a hotel manager destroyed her business by telling the waiting staff that they were not to speak Welsh in the kitchen. The story got out, bookings for weddings and banquets were cancelled, and the manager had to resign. The Hotel – Carreg Môn – went from prosperous to the brink of bankruptcy in a season just because of one white settler’s anglo-supremacist attitudes.

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    • Thanks for that information, Siôn, a very important fact that should be emphasised. As the evidence presented in court stated (reported here and in more detailed media accounts), the English duo had been consuming alcohol for several hours and not simply attacked customers for ordering drinks in Welsh but also demanded that no Welsh be spoken in the immediate vicinity of the bar full stop. This culminated in the expulsion of Welsh-speaking customers from the pub and all the rest that followed. The fact that Welsh-speaking staff were on hand makes their actions all the more reprehensible.

      Even if this had been in a “non-Welsh speaking” community or region, it‘s perfectly reasonable for Welsh-speaking citizens in any part of Wales to request services through their own language and to be treated with courtesy and understanding if that is not available. Employers and businesses, for their own benefit, should make concerted efforts to ensure that a minimum number of Welsh-speakers are available for customer services, whether it is in a giant supermarket or small local pub. The future of Wales is a bilingual one and that should be recognised and welcomed, not fought against.

      I have heard of many incidences in Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking regions of Ireland where hotels, restaurants, etc. have demanded that locally-recruited staff do not speak in Irish, even to each other. On a trip to the town of Clifden in Conamara I witnessed it with my own eyes.

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