Welsh independence rally in Merthyr Tydfil draws thousands

Merthyr Tydfil march
Image caption Crowds have gathered in Merthyr Tydfil for Wales' third independence march this year

Thousands of independence campaigners have marched through Merthyr Tydfil.

Supporters included stars of rugby and football Eddie Butler and Neville Southall, and singer Kizzy Crawford.

Organisers All Under One Banner Cymru estimated 5,300 people attended the rally and said the situation in Westminster meant Wales needed to make "its voice heard".

The Welsh Government said: "We support a strong devolution settlement for Wales within a strong United Kingdom."

It is the third march, following demonstrations in Cardiff and Caernarfon earlier this year.

"I've been waiting for this moment, this awakening, for a long time," said broadcaster Butler, a former Wales and Pontypool rugby captain.

He was joined by former Wales and Everton goalkeeper Southall and poet and playwright Patrick Jones.

"The shenanigans in Westminster this week are the best recruitment tool for Welsh independence," said Phyl Griffiths, chairman of the Yes Merthyr group, which organised the event.

People started gathering in Penderyn Square from early morning and it was the location for a later rally, after the march through the town.

Merthyr Tydfil-raised singer Kizzy Crawford said she was taking part because she was "disappointed with the racism, fascism, unfairness and chaos" she had seen in politics recently.

Image caption A rally is taking place in Penderyn Square after the march
Image caption Drums and Welsh pipes were played at the event

"I think fighting for independence is a way to combat this chaos and make a difference," she said.

AUOB Cymru, a grassroots movement which organises marches calling for Welsh independence, is supported by groups including Yes Cymru but is not affiliated to any political party.

AUOB Cymru spokesman Llywelyn ap Gwilym said: "With the anti-democratic mess that is currently happening in Westminster, it is more important than ever for Wales to make its voice heard, and for the people of Wales to realise that there is a viable alternative: independence."

The Welsh Government spokesman added that it was "fiercely devolutionist and firmly believes in a strong union, which respects and reflects the distinct identities and interests of the UK's four nations".

Image caption People marched in a circuit around the town
Image caption Thousands of people are marching in Merthyr Tydfil

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