• August 25, 2012

News from Celtic Press

It is not often that a complaint is made by a Celticist on a visit to the An Orient/Lorient inter-Celtic festival, but the Celtic League has recently received a report from a Breton member about an incident that occurred at this year’s festival at one of the Welsh stands.

Between 3rd and 12th August 2012 the Breton town of An Orient/Lorient is usually buzzing with one of the biggest and best known Celtic festivals in the world, where up to 700 000 visitors arrive to experience an ensemble of inter-Celtic culture. But this year for one Breton man, Herve Morvan, the event did not turn out in the way that he had envisaged after a visit to the stand run at the event by the Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru/ Arts Council of Wales.

As part of the An Orient festival not only musicians and dancers attend the event, but organisations from around the Celtic world also gather to promote their work to a wide audience and one such organisation that is a regular attendee at the event is Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru. At their stand this year, Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru was highlighting the links that exist between Breizh/Brittany and Cymru/Wales through the Breton and Welsh twinning committees.

It is important to remember at this point that in 1941 Breizh was partitioned by the French Nazi collaborator Marshal Pétain’s under the Vichy France political system and the département of Loire-Atlantique – where the historic capital city of Naoned/Nantes lies – was removed from the rest of Breizh and joined with the French Pays de la Loire region. This partition was at first abolished after the fall of Vichy France, but reinstated in the years after the war.

To illustrate the twinning committees, Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru had put a map of historic Breizh (what has become known as B5) on their wall that included all 5 départements of Breizh and a smaller map next to it (what has become known as B4) that did not include the Breton département of Loire-Atlantique (i.e. only 4 départements shown). In addition to these two different maps, Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru had listed in two separate columns on the same wall the towns and cities that were twinned in B4 and those that were twinned in Loire-Atlantique (the capital city of Cymru, Caerdydd/Cardiff is actually twinned with Naoned and fell into the Loire-Atlantique list).

The Breton community feel understandable cheated by the French that their historic nation has been partitioned in this way and have campaigned tirelessly since partition to have their land reunited once again. In the past the French regional administrative assembly of Brittany and the departmental assembly of Loire-Atlantique have both stated that they are in favour of the unification of Brittany. Finally in 2012 a constitutional amendment was purposed by a Union pour un Mouvement (UMP) Deputy (Member of Parliament in the B4 region) and a Green Deputy of Nantes, in the French legislative parliament that raised the prospect for the first time of a future referendum in Loire-Atlantique on reunification. However, the proposed amendment only found support from a small number of Breton Socialist MP’s and was finally rejected by the French Senate (the second chamber) earlier this year.

Mr Morvan, who visited the Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru stand along with his friend Jakez Derouet, may have been hoping for their Welsh compatriots to have been more sensitive to the political situation in Breizh and have included only the historic map on their stand and not made a distinction between B4 and B5 Breizh, especially in consideration of the event they were attending. On raising the issue with the manager of the stand, Mr Morvan politely pointed out in English what he meant by cleanly and professionally adding the Loire-Atlantique region to the B4 map. Unfortunately however the Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru manager took exception to this and called the police who arrived and arrested Mr Morvan who was taken away to the police station where he was detained for two hours.

Mr Derouet, who is a long standing member of the League and a former Breizh Branch Secretary witnessed the incident. Mr Derouet commented that he was incensed that the incident could not have been resolved in a more amicable way. It would seem pertinent that if Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru cannot be more sensitive to the political situation at an event like An Orient/Lorient then perhaps it would be better that they did not attend at all.

Mr Derouet later reported what happened to the League:

“Je me suis présenté en m’excusant de ne pas posséder suffisamment l’anglais puis ai fait remarqué au responsable que de mettre à côté de la grande carte routière de la Bretagne, où les limites administratives étaient déjà présentes, une carte tronquée de la Bretagne était inacceptable.

“Pire je lui fis remarquer que la liste des villes jumelées comprenait deux groupes séparant totalement la Loire-Atlantique du reste de la Bretagne… et que pour nous Bretons c’était une véritable provocation d’autant plus que les noms des villes jumelées étaient déjà en gros caractères sur la grande carte de Bretagne.”

“Le responsable visiblement agacé par plusieurs remarques m’a répondu…. ”

Mr Derouet has also reported the incident to ‘Bretagne Réunie’, an organisation that campaigns for the reunification of Breizh, and the League will be writing to Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru to make its own complaint.

The number of twinning committees in Breizh that are linked to twinning committees in Cymru are shown below:

Côtes d’Armor : 6

Finistère: 18

Ille & Vilaine: 3

Morbihan: 7

Loire-Atlantique: 12

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
General Secretary,
Celtic League
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

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