St David’s Day Message by the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
1 March 2017
On the first of March, the people of Wales and our friends all around the world celebrate our national day – St David’s Day. Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus i chi.
It has been an eventful year since the last St David’s Day.
We’ve had an election to the fifth National Assembly for Wales; a referendum in which the UK voted to leave the EU; and a new President of the United States.
With elections also due to take place in a number of European countries over the coming months, there are some big challenges ahead for all of us in 2017.
I was honoured to be re-elected as First Minister of Wales following last year’s election and I am proud to lead a nation which is not afraid of a challenge.
As someone who was strongly of the opinion that the UK should remain in the EU, I was naturally disappointed by the result. However, it’s our great fortune in Wales to live in a democracy. The democratic vote was to leave, so my priority now is to do my best for Wales and the UK in the discussions about the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. While the UK narrowly voted to leave the EU, we are not leaving Europe and we have many friends and partners throughout the continent.
From the 18th century, when Wales became the first industrialised nation in the world, our economy and society have benefited from people from all parts of the world. People who have come here to study, to teach, to work in our hospitals; between 2014 and 2015, international students made up 18.2% of the student body in Wales. Business people who have come to invest in Wales because they know that here they will find a skilled and loyal workforce and an enviable quality of life. Over the last 3 full financial years, 34 countries have made 277 foreign direct investments in Wales. All of these people have contributed to Wales today.
For tourists, Wales has long been seen as a place of song, poetry and where visitors can discover our rich Celtic heritage. Today, people also visit Wales for extreme sports, the food, the festivals and international events.
The UK is about to go through the greatest constitutional change it’s seen for a generation. There is much which is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that Wales has always been an outward-looking nation. This year more than ever, we reflect on the importance of that – to both our history and our future.
Wales welcomes all who make a contribution to our economy and our society.
So wherever you are, Happy St David’s Day.