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Welsh Language Society founder Gareth Miles dies at 85

GARETH MILES, a founder of the Welsh language society Cymdeithas yr laith Gymraeg, died today aged 85.

The group, which was founded in the 1960s to promote Welsh people’s right to speak, read and live in their own language, said Miles had seen the fight for language rights as part of the broader struggle for social justice. A Marxist, Miles was also at one time chairman of the Communist Party in Wales.

It campaigned using non-violent direct action for people’s right to use the Welsh language at a time this was widely suppressed.

Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said that “Gareth Miles made an enormous contribution to cultural and political  life in Wales and internationally as a founder member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society), and as a novelist, playwright and political activist. 

“He helped lead the earliest non-violent, direct action campaigns to win equal status for the Welsh language in practice as well as in law, serving time in prison. 

“He was Welsh-language novelist of the year for his witty and insightful work, served as a full-time official for UCAC the Welsh teachers’ union and, politically, he went from Plaid Cymru to the Welsh Socialist Republican Movement and then — for the past four decades — into the Communist Party and the management committee of the Morning Star daily newspaper. 

A warm, generous and wise friend and comrade to me and many other people, Gareth was also an outstanding internationalist, a leader of the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement, a fluent French speaker and a champion of the oppressed and exploited around the world. 

“He leaves a huge void to fill, but his life and work will be celebrated for a long time to come — not least during next year’s National Eisteddfod in Pontypridd, where Gareth, wife Gina and three daughters Elen, Branwen and Eiry made their home for many decades after he arrived there from Waunfawr near Caernarfon, via Wrecsam.”


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