Welsh Government must push for investment to strengthen Menai Crossing

Responding to comments made by Ken Skates AM today regarding the Third Menai Crossing, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“After the Wylfa Newydd plan was postponed, I specifically asked Welsh Government to give certainty that the case for third crossing over the Menai was still as strong as ever, and I was given that certainty.

“Yes, Wylfa would have resulted in extra traffic on the existing crossings, and of course that is a factor in the plans for the third crossing, but the truth is that there are serious questions regarding the resilience of the current crossings.

“On too many occasions, the connection between Ynys Mon and the mainland has been cut off, or has been at risk of being cut off, and the emergency services have always argued that these crossing must be stronger, and that is the main reason for a third crossing.

“Although the Wylfa Newydd project has been delayed, I still believe in pushing for extra investment from National Grid towards the cost of a third crossing, as hundreds of millions is currently invested in undergrounding cables through national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty,

“The truth is that the wires across the Menai negatively affect one of the most beautiful areas in Wales, and investment should be provided to ensure that those cables do not affect the area in such a way. The way to do that is to put them on the bridge, and that should happen whatever happens with Wylfa. Welsh Government must push for that investment.

“I also support the campaign for Bont Bendigeidfran, which would be an amazing design and bring visitors from across the world to visit the crossing, but that is another matter.”

Widespread support in Wales for Senedd name, poll finds.

A plurality of people in Wales support re-naming the Assembly the ‘Senedd’ as the official name in both Welsh and English a poll has found.

A YouGov poll commissioned by Plaid Cymru shows that 45% of those who responded support ‘Senedd’ as the only name for the institution, compared to 28% who support “Welsh Parliament” as the official name in English.

Removing those who responded with ‘Don’t Know’, the figures indicate 56% to 35% in favour of ‘Senedd’.

The poll also found that ‘Senedd’ was the most popular choice for supporters from all main political parties in Wales. Excluding don’t knows, 84% of Plaid Cymru supporters and 59% of Labour supporters support the Senedd only name.”

Excluding ‘don’t knows’, 48% of Conservative supporters also backed the Welsh only name, despite the opposition to the name from the Conservative group in the National Assembly.

Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said the poll confirmed that the plurality of people of Wales wanted ‘Senedd’ as the only name for the Assembly.

Mr ap Iorwerth said the Conservative elected members were out of touch with the people of Wales and their supporters but that Labour could yet make up its mind and show that ‘they are in keeping with the people of Wales’.

The Plaid Cymru AM said that the issue went ‘beyond party politics’ and was about developing ‘a new kind of democracy in Wales’ and that the Welsh language belonged to all in Wales.

Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said,

“This poll confirms what we already knew: a plurality of people in Wales want Senedd – and only Senedd, as the name for their national political institution.

“What’s also revealing is that a majority of Labour and Tory supporters think it should be Senedd in both languages. Not only are Tory AMs out of touch with the people of Wales – they’re out of touch with their supporters as well.

“I was delighted that a number of Labour members have already signed up to support our amendment for a Senedd only name but the Labour Welsh Government holds the casting vote.

“Wales backs Senedd. Labour supporters back Senedd. Will the Labour Government show that they are in keeping with the people of Wales and also back Senedd?

“This goes beyond party politics. This is about showing that the Welsh language belongs to us all. This is about showing that we want to develop a new kind of democracy in Wales.

“Let’s be confident in ourselves, uniting the nation behind the name that belongs to everyone regardless of their language, reflecting both our heritage and the dawn of a new kind of democracy. This is our Senedd, a unique name for a unique Parliament.

Thousands of Anglesey residents helped into work by European schemes, evidence shows.

The career prospects of thousands of Anglesey residents have been boosted significantly since 2007 by European Union schemes, with 1,400 jobs created, 2,100 peopled helped into work and 9,000 people earning new qualifications, evidence shows.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth AM received confirmation of the above figures in response to a written question tabled in the Assembly recently regarding European programs involving skill and employment development on the island.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“This is another strong example of just how beneficial being a member of the European Union has benefitted Wales and my constituency of Ynys Môn.

“Creating thousands of jobs, helping thousands more skill-up and achieve better jobs and enabling almost 10,000 qualifications to be achieved by the island’s people is a significant contribution to the island’s economy.

“After the shambolic events of the last three years our assessment remains clear that leaving the European Union would be detrimental to Wales – bad for farming, bad for young people, for the NHS and for the economy.

“Let’s give the people, not politicians, the final say, and let the people give their assessment of what has unfolded since June 2016. Our future and the future of our children is at stake.”

Plaid Cymru Parliamentary candidate for Ynys Môn Aled ap Dafydd added:

“While the Conservative party is intent on a destructive Brexit and with Labour showing a chronic lack of leadership – Plaid Cymru wants a positive future for Wales within the European Union.

“No form of Brexit can compete with the deal we have already.

“Being part of the EU has supported thousands of people into work in Ynys Môn.

“European funds have been the backbone for many of our workers at a time when the Westminster parties have neglected the needs of our communities.

“As the only Remain party standing in Ynys Môn Plaid Cymru will always be in the side of working people.”

Plaid likely to win all seats where they are the single Remain candidate, says political scientist

New analysis shows huge impact of principled pro-Remain pact.

A senior political scientist, Heinz Brandenburg, has said that Plaid Cymru would win every seat where an agreement has been reached for other pro-Remain parties to stand aside.

The party’s Campaign Director, Rhun ap Iorwerth, said that the agreement was an opportunity to “stop the Brexit chaos and elect the most number of Plaid Cymru MPs ever”.

Using existing data and cutting edge Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification (MRP) polling techniques, Dr Brandenburg – a senior lecturer at the University of Strathclyde – said that Plaid Cymru would extend their lead in the constituencies they hold and could lead to the Party of Wales winning in Ynys Môn, Pontypridd, Llanelli, and Caerphilly.

Dr Brandenburg’s analysis is significantly more accurate because of its use of MRP. MRP is a way of producing estimates of opinions and attitudes for small defined geographic areas. It works by combining information from large national samples (for example tens of thousands of respondents) with ONS and census data.

Plaid Cymru’s Election Campaign Director, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“This principled and mature agreement between pro-Remain parties gives us the opportunity to stop the Brexit chaos and elect the more Plaid Cymru MPs than ever before.

“The serious times we live in demand serious answers. Our agreement to put our countries before our parties is a radical change in how politics has worked for decades.

“With more MPs, more AMs, and more councillors, and having topped the poll among pro-Remain parties in May’s European election, Plaid Cymru is Wales’ lead party of Remain in this election.

“By uniting behind the Plaid Cymru candidate in these constituencies, people have the opportunity to send a clear message to Westminster that Wales demands a voice and wants to end the Brexit chaos.”

“Work with us to tackle Anglesey’s Gender Pay Gap” says Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

The public and representatives from all work sectors are being encouraged to attend an event which will highlight, discuss challenges and develop solutions to Anglesey’s Gender Pay Gap (GPG).

Local AM, Rhun ap Iorwerth is organising the debate in light of figures which show that Anglesey has the one of the highest GPGs in Wales at 17.8%. This is percentage is the difference between men and women’s average hourly earnings.

The event will be an opportunity to discuss and try to understand why women aren’t progressing in the same way as men, with their skills and potential often underutilised. It will also look at what actions must be taken to ensure that women can access and advance in fair work with decent pay.

Taking place from 6.30pm-8.00pm on Thursday 14 November at M-SParc, Menai Science Park, Gaerwen, those interested in attending the event should register via the website Eventbrite.

Joining Rhun on the panel will be Helen Antoniazzi from Chwarae Teg – Wales’ leading gender equality charity, Llinos Medi, Leader, Isle of Anglesey County Council, Aled Jones-Griffith, Principal, Llandrillo Menai Group and Llinos Davies, District Inspector for Anglesey.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, said: “It is just over a hundred years since women were granted the right to vote in the UK – but we must recognise that there is still a long way to go in tackling the gender pay gap and inequality of representation between men and women.

“Recent provisional figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that the average gender pay gap in Wales is 14.5%, and that the gap has increased by 1% over the last year, which further illustrates the need for robust action to tackle this inequality.

“In Anglesey, for example, the gap stands at an enormous 17.8%. I am looking forward to hosting this important event at M-Sparc on Thursday, November 14th, alongside Chwarae Teg, who do work in this field, to discuss this situation further and establish a set of actions to tackle this problem.”

Helen Antoniazzi, Chwarae Teg, said: “I hope this event will lead to a real understanding of why women in Anglesey are earning so much less than men and are not progressing in their careers in the same way, so that appropriate and effective steps can be taken to address and resolve the problem.

“At Chwarae Teg we support employers to close the gender pay gap and secure gender balance in workplaces. Indeed, organisations can reap huge rewards in terms of increased productivity, improved staff retention and reduced sickness leave, after implementing relatively simple measures which enable female employees to thrive.

“Our research shows that achieving gender equality could add almost £14billion to the Welsh economy, so is not just a ‘nice-to-have’, but an economic ‘must-have’.”

“We have an opportunity here” says Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, regarding devolution of justice powers.

Weaknesses in the justice system currently presiding over England and Wales could be addressed by creating a bespoke justice system for Wales, in line with the recommendations of a recent report calling for devolution of justice powers to Wales, according to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM.

An independent commission, chaired by Lord John Thomas of Cwmgiedd who, as former Lord Chief Justice, was once the most senior judge in England and Wales, recently said that Wales should have full control of its justice system – with powers to run policing, prisons and appoint its own judges.

The commission’s report also found that people in Wales are “let down by the system in its current state” and that, as well as switching funding, including for legal aid, it believes laws applying in Wales should be treated as being distinct from English law.

In response to a statement made by Welsh Government’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, today, Plaid Cymru AM for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“There are so many reasons why we should be embracing these recommendations placed before us. As lawmakers here in Wales, it’s important that we do become a Parliament, which is a legislative body that deals with the justice system, as a matter of principle.

“There are practicalities in terms of the difficulties that we face at the moment in delivering co-ordination between justice and the kind of policy that will influence the justice system. In Scotland and in England, they can form policy in a different context.

“But the main reason for proceeding to implement these recommendations is that the deficiencies that have been highlighted do impact upon real people’s lives here in Wales and the way in which the justice system deals with them. Be that in how we deal with women within the justice system, how we treat people from ethnic minorities within our justice system, or how we operate legislation within family courts in a way that is sensitive to the needs of our young people and children here in Wales.”

“We have an opportunity here in Wales now to address those weaknesses, which are so well known to many people working within the justice system, and to work in a way that, for the very first time, allows us to formulate a system that is sensitive to the needs of the people of Wales specifically.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth takes part in Annual Poppy Ride

The Assembly Member for Ynys Môn took part in The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Ride in the Senedd which coincides with the start of the annual Poppy Appeal. The annual event, taking place for a fourth year, saw Assembly Members and staff take up the challenge of riding as far as possible in three-minutes, competing against each other for the honour of winning a prestigious Legion yellow jersey.

The ride aims to raise awareness of the work of the Legion and the issues of the Armed Forces community in a unique setting. Throughout the event Legion staff were on hand to talk to participants about the unseen sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community, in Wales and beyond, every day.

AMs were joined by the Legion’s Area Manager for Wales Ant Metcalfe, Legion staff from across Wales and were supported by students from the local Military Preparation College for Training. Pure Gym Cardiff, once again generously supported the event by providing the static bikes.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said: “Each day our Armed Forces provide an incredible service to our country in all kinds of ways, many of which we don’t necessarily see, but all of which impact our lives. It was thought-provoking to hear some of the stories of how the Legion are helping the Armed Forces community and I look forward to working alongside them to support this inspirational group of people in the future.”

Ant Metcalfe, Wales Area Manager for the Royal British Legion said: “The Poppy Ride has become a popular event in the Assembly calendar, with the friendly competitive nature of Assembly Members coming to the fore. It provides us with a great platform to talking to the AM’s and their staff about the needs of the Armed Forces and veteran community and the work of the Legion in Wales in a relaxed and informal setting. I would like to extend my thanks to every person who came along today.”

Ynys Mon AM hosts packed Public Meeting regarding Holyhead GP crisis

A plan needs to be put in place with urgency to sort the GP crisis affecting surgeries in Holyhead, Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said after chairing a packed Public Meeting at Millbank Community Centre for patients to share their views on troubles facing two practices in the town.

Longford House and Cambria surgeries have struggled greatly to recruit and retain new full-time GPs after the management of both practices has been taken over by the Health Board in recent months, with patients often told there are no doctors at the surgeries for days and generally experiencing issues in accessing primary care due to the shortage of GPs in both practices.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said that the community spoke clearly and as one at the meeting, and that a plan now needs to be put in place by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to resolve the situation.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“What we had this evening in Holyhead was a community speaking very, very clearly with one voice. A frustrated community, an angry community in so many ways, that primary care, the GP surgery system in this town has been allowed to reach a point where it just cannot meet the needs of the town.

“Now, having spoken with a clear voice, we can take that message to Betsi Cadwaladr and to Welsh Government and say we can’t wait any longer, we can’t afford to wait any longer, the vulnerable people of Holyhead can’t wait any longer.

“Let’s get a plan in place now to sort this out.”

Holyhead and Anglesey will lose out if proposed Brexit Deal is passed, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has said that he could never support Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal as it would put communities at Ynys Môn at a disadvantage and the island would lose out.

Discussing the practicalities of Mr Johnson’s Brexit Deal in the Assembly Chamber this week Mr ap Iorwerth said that a border down the Irish Sea would be a significant threat to the success of Holyhead port, which is currently the best route for trade between Ireland and Europe.

50% of present trade across the Irish Sea into Holyhead Port comes from Northern Ireland, but a hard border down the Irish Sea would likely result in most of that trade opting to cross into the UK through Stranraer or Liverpool, as goods wouldn’t have to be checked when passing through the Republic – which is part of the European Union’s Single Market and Customs Union.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Trade through the port of Holyhead has grown 700 per cent or thereabouts since the creation of the single market. Holyhead is a hugely important port, not only because it’s well run, it has great staff, and it’s an effective and efficient port, but it’s successful because it is the easiest way for trade to flow from Europe through Britain on to Ireland.

“So, much of what is being proposed now threatens that position that Holyhead has—that privileged position of being the best route for trade. Fifty per cent of the trade through Dublin and Holyhead comes from Northern Ireland.

“Now, under the terms of what is being proposed now, there would be parts of that trade traffic that would be tariff-free, which would have easier access directly into ports in Scotland and England. That would directly put the port of Holyhead under disadvantage.

“At the end of the day, trade will find the easiest route and we are the ones that will lose out. Those hard-working families in Holyhead, on the Isle of Anglesey, will find that that port—which has been so vital to the economy of my constituency, of my community—will find itself at a disadvantage, and I will never support a deal that places my community under a disadvantage.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth responds to “heart-wrenching” news regarding lorry container deaths

The tragic news of 39 bodies being found in a lorry container in Essex this morning is heart-wrenching and raises a number of questions regarding security checks on the Dublin-Holyhead crossing according to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM.

Plaid Cymru’s Assembly Member for Ynys Môn will raise this mater in the National Assembly this afternoon after the container was found in the early hours of this morning in Grays, Essex, having crossed into the UK from Dublin via Holyhead Port on Saturday.

The vehicle, believed to have travelled from Bulgaria, was found shortly before 01:40 BST at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays and the lorry driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Police have appealed for witnesses and anyone with information about the lorry’s route to contact them.

Ahead of his question to Welsh Government in the Assembly, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“This news is heart-wrenching. That 39 people felt they had to put their lives in danger like this, and that the 39 have lost their lives in a terrible way. My sympathies are with them and their families. It doesn’t matter how far from home one loses their life, the grief is the same.

“It raises a number of questions, some of which I will be putting to Welsh Government this afternoon. How is it that this lorry was able to pass through Holyhead undetected in this way? And why did those on board or others associated with this tragedy decide that Dublin-Holyhead was to be the chosen crossing?

“I and others like the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Police Arfon Jones have long raised concerns about a lack of anti-terror police at Holyhead. In so many ways Holyhead is being overlooked as a port, I fear.

“Whilst Dover is firmly on the agenda as the UK’s busiest roll-on-roll-off ferry port, Holyhead seems ignored, as the second busiest, with about 400,000 lorries passing though annually. This is not acceptable either in the context of Brexit and trade, or now in the context of immigration and this tragic loss of human life.

“I’ll be asking Welsh Government to join me in inviting Home Office Ministers to Holyhead to see for themselves why this port needs real investment and the prioritisation it deserves as Wales’ busiest – and the UK’s second busiest ferry port.”