?Read my column in this week’s paper below.
Tryweryn has always been of great significance to me. My parents made sure I knew the story of how the village of Capel Celyn was drowned as the river Tryweryn was dammed to provide water for the Liverpool Corporation in the early 1960s.
As a child I remember during one hot, dry summer, taking a walk down to the village as the reservoir waters subsided. It left a deep impression on me, just as the drowning had caused a political awakening in Wales. Welsh MPs had voted against the drowning. Wales protested. But it went ahead anyway.
Never again could this be allowed to happen.
‘Cofiwch Dryweryn!’ (‘Remember Tryweryn’) was the protest cry painted on a wall on the A487 south of Aberystwyth in 1963 or 1964 by author and academic the late Dr Meic Stephens (father, incidentally, of Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens).
And to this day it remains there. As a reminder.
It has evolved over the years, with additional words and symbols of protest added. But each time it’s eventually been touched up to its original form.
Recently, however, it’s come under attack. The political slogan was painted over by the word ‘Elvis’ earlier this year. It was quickly repainted. This weekend, however, vandals went a stage further, and demolished the top half of the wall.
Within hours, young Welsh men and women armed with cement and trowels – as well as the obligatory red and white paint – had rebuilt it.
Whilst the vandalism hurts me, striking as it does at the core of the need to stand up for this nation of ours, the determination with which the wall rose again gives real hope that we are a people that will not be cowed.
The police are treating the attack on the wall as a hate crime. We owe it to ourselves to conquer that hate. The love of Wales and its people, and a vision of our nation as welcoming, equal, international in outlook, diverse, proud of our history and excited about our future are values I’m committed to, and I hope you agree that in an a world that can seem very dark at times, we can together shine a beacon for what this country of ours can be, no matter who tries to divide us.