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Humanist minister denied role at remembrance ceremony

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Sian Caiach

LLANELLI TOWN COUNCIL have found themselves in a row over the upcoming remembrance service at the town war memorial.

Humanists UK member and Chair of Llanelli Rural Council Sian Caiach has spoken with The Herald newspaper to express her disappointment at having her request for her Humanist Pastor to participate in a remembrance ceremony denied.

The Town Council together with The Royal British Legion organise the Llanelli Remembrance Service. A request by Cllr Caiach was made for her humanist pastor to say a few words and lay a wreath have been rejected. The denial could force the council and Royal British Legion to update their policy for future events under the Equality Act 2010. The act states you must not be discriminated against because of your religion or lack of faith.

The Town Council has defended their decision.

Speaking to our reporter on the telephone, Gary Jones, the town clerk, said: ‘’A template has been utilised by the Royal British Legion for over 20 years and has worked very well.

“The parade contains veterans of an aging generation which must be taken into consideration. The request was made too late for adaptions to be made. However, we are looking at options for adjusting the timetable for next year’s ceremony.’’

Cllr Caiach an atheist, says she has previously been able to have her pastor join her in an official Rural Council capacity including her own civic ceremony. Accommodations have also previously been made, she argues, for fellow chairs who are without faith.

In an attempt to find a solution Pastor Androw Bennett, who is an experienced and well known humanist pastor has offered to restrict the bilingual remarks to just only one minute. Again this request has been denied, the Herald understands.

The Town Council has, we are told, offered Cllr Caiach and Pastor Bennett a private once the formal ceremony has concluded.

According to the councillor, this is not the first time Llanelli Town Council has appeared to have adopted a ‘Christianity only’ policy.

This is evident in their approach, she says, to their councillors civic ceremonies. She told The Herald: “All Town Mayors are only offered to select a Chaplain of Christian faith.

“Councillor David Darkin who is agnostic, was only offered a Christian chaplain for his Civic Ceremony which was run by the Town Council.

“With the town having its first Muslim Mayor, Councillor Shahana Najmi who is currently the Llanelli Council Leader, the policy is proving outdated.”

She added ‘’I really don’t accept  that in modern times this is appropriate behaviour where we strive to have a liberal and inclusive society which celebrates diversity.’’

The councillor says that she is determined to ensure there is no discrimination will be placing an official request with The Royal British Legion in preparation of next years service for equal recognition of a Humanist Celebrant to be included within the ceremony.

This November will be a celebratory milestone for Welsh humanists, as it marks the first time a leading officiate humanist celebrant Lorraine Barrett has been invited to speak at the official Welsh National Service of Remembrance, on behalf of the non-religious in Wales – with the same status as the Church of Wales and other religious groups.

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Cold temperatures likely to lead to icy conditions

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A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Wales from 10pm tonight (Jan 16) and 11am tomorrow morning (Jan 17).

As temperatures drop, there is a strong chance of ice patches causing dangerous conditions for motorists.

Icy patches developing with wintry showers also affecting some areas.

What to expect

  • Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
  • Probably some ice on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths
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Police target burglary suspects in dawn raids

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SIXTEEN addresses have been raided by police in an operation responding to a spate of high-value burglaries in the south Wales area.

Officers targeted locations in Fforest-Fach, Clase, Morrison, Brynhyfryd and Bonymaen following a year of thefts in the city and Neath Port Talbot.

Operation Timmia also saw locations in Swansea citry centre targeted by South Wales Police.

Six people have been arrested and remain in custody, The Llanelli Herald has been told.

The large scale operation used the police helicopter, forensics teams, financial investigators and cash-detecting dogs.

Police seized three caravans, a cannabis cultivation, large amounts of cash and jewellery, and a number of other items believed to be linked to crimes.

Detectives said those arrested are being held on suspicion of several offences, including conspiracy to commit burglary.

They have also issued an appeal to trace a further four suspects: Daniel Casey, 27; Terrence Casey, 19; Michael Casey, 18; and Patrick Joyce, 20.

All four men have links with the travelling community and are known to travel throughout the UK, said police.

“We know the recent spates of burglaries and car thefts across the division has been of real concern in our local communities and I hope the scale of this morning’s enforcement action reassures the public that we do take the matter seriously and that we are fully committed to bringing those responsible to justice,” said Det Insp Dave Peart.

“We now have a number of individuals in custody and enquiries are ongoing to locate a number of outstanding suspects.”

As part of the raids, officers searched an industrial unit in the Fforestfach area of the city, and nine caravans on Millstream Way traveller site.

The force said the investigation follow what has been described as a “high number of burglaries and aggravated burglaries in the past year”.

In some instances, homeowners were confronted by armed gangs who either threatened or inflicted violence.

Supt Cath Larkman added: “During some of the recent burglaries we’ve seen an increasing use of, or willingness to use, violence, so today’s action was absolutely proportionate and necessary to protect the public from further criminality and potential harm.”

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Band leader sexually assaulted 14-year-old cadet

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THE LEADER of an Army cadet band turned a kitchen into a sauna and sexually assaulted a naked teenage boy.

And Philip Pryor, now 65, used a British Legion computer to download child pornography.

Pryor, of Llys y Llyfgell, Burry Port, has been jailed for two and a half years.

Swansea Crown Court heard how Pryor had been the leader of an Army cadet band in Burry Port, which attracted members from across west Wales, as well as being a branch secretary for the British Legion.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said the Army had a hut in Burry Port which the band used for rehearsals and some cadets slept there, as did Pryor, before a concert.

A man who was a 14-year-old cadet at the time told police how Pryor would boil pans of water and place towels around doors and windows and turn the kitchen into a sauna.

Boys were encouraged to take off their clothes, as did Pryor.

On at least three occasions he touched the boy indecently, said Mr Rouch.

The victim did not complain until many years later after he had seen a television news item about young footballers being abused and confided in a friend about what had happened to him.

He later told police that at the time Pryor, who had played in a military band while serving in the Army, had told him that because of his standing in the community there was no point in complaining as no-one would believe him.

Mr Rouch said a police investigation began and officers removed a British Legion computer used by Pryor and found he had downloaded a small number of indecent images of schoolboys.

Pryor admitted three offences of indecent assault and one of possessing child pornography.

His barrister, Frank Phillips, said Pryor was now remorseful and ashamed and had lived as a recluse since his arrest.

Judge Geraint Walters told Pryor he had been in a position of trust.

“You targeted him and abused him more than once.

“The fact that he went to the police so many years later demonstrates the long lasting effect of what you did to him. It has never left him.

“It shows the wickedness of an adult taking advantage of a youngster.

“There was some grooming here in that you allowed him to have alcohol and cigarette.

“I accept you have led a blameless life since the offending but it is not possible for me to pass a sentence that could be suspended,” he added.

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