Senedd Members are being sworn in to their roles as the sixth Senedd term gets underway following last week’s elections.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some members have been sworn in at the Senedd, while others are being sworn in online.
The swearing-in process began on Saturday and is expecting to finish on Tuesday, with Senedd Members officially electing the First Minister on Wednesday. Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford is almost certainly set to be reappointed in the role.
A strong showing from Welsh Labour saw the party stay in government and retain it’s three constituency seats in Caerphilly County Borough, with Hefin David retaining Caerphilly, Rhianon Passmore being re-elected in Islwyn and Dawn Bowden holding Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.
The four regional Senedd Members for South Wales East were confirmed over the weekend, with Plaid Cymru’s Delyth Jewell and Conservative Laura Anne Jones being sent back to Cardiff Bay to serve another term, while Penyrheol Community Councillor Peredur Owen Griffiths was elected to represent the region for Plaid Cymru.
History was made too, with Conservative Natasha Asghar, whose father was the late Senedd Member Mohammed Asghar, becoming the first woman of colour ever elected to the Senedd.
Mr Asghar, who was affectionately known as ‘Oscar’, died last summer aged 74. He was the first person of colour ever elected to the Senedd in 2007, and served for 13 years until his death.
Ms Asghar told Caerphilly Observer: “It’s indescribable. I’m elated and honoured to be the first woman of colour elected to represent South Wales East.
“The world is progressing at such a phenomenal rate – we’ve had Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, Indira Ghandi in India, Margaret Thatcher in the UK. It’s important women, women of colour and everyone else is represented in the Senedd.”
Ms Asghar was sworn in to her new role after taking her oath on the Qu’ran in the Senedd chamber on Saturday.
She described the moment as “bittersweet” and said: “The one person I wanted with me wasn’t.”
Meanwhile, Ms Jewell paid an emotional tribute to her predecessor Steffan Lewis, who died from bowel cancer aged just 34.
In her acceptance speech after being re-elected, Ms Jewell said: “I just wanted to say one thing about the absent friend who we have in Plaid Cymru. Because of Covid, there are so many people who all of us would love to have with us today, but there is one person in particular whose loss we are feeling particularly keenly – and that is Steffan Lewis.
“Plaid Cymru, as far as I’m concerned, does not just have two members in this region, in our hearts we have three, because Steffan Lewis will share my seat with me for as long as I have the honour to represent South Wales East and to share the honour that he had.
“So Steffan, I know we didn’t get the two seats last time, but this one’s for you. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Steffan.”
Elsewhere, Hefin David, who was re-elected to represent Caerphilly, was sworn in on Sunday. The day before his swearing in, he was told by the Senedd he wouldn’t be able to take his two daughters, aged three and five, along with him due to social distancing rules.
When he challenged this on Twitter, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MS Dawn Bowden and newly-elected Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen also revealed they had been told the same thing.
This forced a U-turn and Senedd Members were allowed to bring children with them to be sworn in.
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