In a powerful and challenging speech at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Meifod, Powys the festival’s President, Revd Dr R Alun Evans – who is also President of the Union of Welsh Independents – called on the nation to support the establishment of a Peace Academy for Wales.
This would serve to create a society free of violence, he said. “Exactly a century ago, in August 1915, the National Eisteddfod was held in Bangor. For the first time in its history it omitted the ritual of partly removing of the sword from its sheath and calling “Peace!” In its place there was a rousing speech by Brigadier-General Owen Thomas. A report said that: “Thomas roused his fellow countrymen to a pitch of patriotic fervour that should have brought fruit outside the pavilion where recruiting officers were busy. There are still ‘busy’ in our schools. Recruiting by the military goes on in 74% of schools in Wales.
Turning to the subject of a Peace Academy, R Alun Evans said that the Welsh Assembly supports the idea in principle and that a million pounds has been secured from the Heritage Fund. “There are several Peace Academies worldwide but a Wales Academy would be the first in the UK. Wales would lead. It would be an independent organisation, to prepare, promote and disseminate objective and in-depth information on issues of peace, justice, human rights and sustainability in Wales and beyond; a centre of excellence that could contribute to the development of a more just society in the interests of all the people and organisations of Wales, and contribute to an understanding of the history of Wales in relation to peace in a global context. Such an academy, with high-quality research, could produce materials for schools and Sunday schools on topics such as ‘extremism’, ‘the impact of bullying on children’ and ‘domestic violence.’ The potential exists to extend the radical, peaceful and trans-partisan tradition in a Welsh context. The essence of the Academy would be to help create peace in our homes, peace in our streets, peace internationally. I call on this National, Urdd and Llangollen Eisteddfodau – and the Welsh Government – to do everything possible to help raise awareness of what an organisation like a Peace Academy could mean for Wales. Friends! come to fight – for peace.”