Welsh assembly Celebration of the Mace urges unity

A celebration of "faiths, cultures and communities" has taken place in Cardiff Bay, the day before The Queen's state opening of the Welsh assembly.

The event, the Celebration of the Mace, urged greater understanding between all sections of society.

It started the Assembly of Communities, which the assembly says will be a key theme for its fourth term.

Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler said she wanted the assembly to "interact with communities across the country".

"The new assembly represents communities across the whole of Wales," said Mrs Butler.

"I want the fourth assembly to directly interact with communities across the country. This will not be limited to geographic communities, but will include all cultural, interest and demographic groups."

She added: "No-one in Wales should feel that their voice cannot be heard.

"Whether it's an issue that affects their town, village or community, I want people to know that I and my fellow assembly members are here to represent them and to allow them to have their say on the issues that matter.

"The Celebration of the Mace represents the beginning of this commitment."

She thanked Aled Edwards of the Inter-faith Council for Wales, who she said had worked in partnership with the Assembly Commission to ensure the event fully reflected communities in Wales.

During the ceremony at the Senedd, speeches, readings and hymns were delivered by some of Wales's leading community figures.

The blessing was given by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan.

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