Plaid Cymru have held their spring conference in Caernarfon and the party faithful were in an expectant mood. This was Rhun ap Iorwerth’s second conference since becoming the Party of Wales leader in June of last year. 2023 was undoubtedly a tough year for Plaid Cymru after a damning report looked into the party's culture and consequently a new leader was brought in. But things seem to be changing for the party.

WalesOnline attended the two-day conference at Y Galeri, right at the heart of the Gwynedd town and spoke to members, staff and politicians to get an insight into the party's current position. Here are the four key takeaways from the conference.

READ MORE: Plaid leader Rhun ap Iorwerth on his plan to win votes in the Valleys and take on Vaughan Gething

LATEST: Four key points from Rhun ap Iorwerth's speech to Plaid Cymru's spring conference

Llinos Medi is a strong candidate for Ynys Môn

The Isle of Anglesey Council leader had a very good conference in Caernarfon. She received a loud cheer as she came on stage and the audience responded well to her impassioned speech.

Last year, Llinos replaced Rhun ap Iorwerth as the Plaid Cymru candidate for MP on Ynys Môn after he became the party's leader and was therefore ineligible for a Westminster seat. For the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox sign up to our newsletter.

Speaking to some members at the conference, they had no doubt that Llinos Medi would win the island seat back from the sitting Tory MP Virginia Crosbie. She was first elected to the Isle of Anglesey County Council in 2013, not long after the council had been taken out of special measures.

Within that year, she became the leader of the Plaid Cymru councillors of the island and then became the council’s leader in 2017 at the age of 35, making her among the youngest council leaders in the UK.

According to a fellow Anglesey councillor at the conference, Llinos has made a significant and lasting contribution as council leader, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and said that she would undoubtedly do the same as an MP.

Ynys Môn is going to be an interesting three-way battle in the next general election, with Ms Crosbie hoping to retain her seat, against Llinos Medi for Plaid Cymru and Ieuan Mon Williams for Labour.

Calls to tighten rules on political donations

Vaughan Gething's donations controversy was a big talking point at the conference. As expected, Rhun ap Iorwerth was critical of the new Welsh Labour leader and First Minister.

In his speech on Friday, he called on Mr Gething to pay back the £200k donations he received during the leadership contest from a man whose companies committed environmental crimes and to rebuild the trust following the controversy.

He said: "Let's not forget that this was no ordinary campaign. The voting stitch-up, the ducking of scrutiny for his own record, and whilst we’re used to questions about dodgy donations around the Conservative party, what we’ve seen during this Labour campaign has undermined so much faith. And when we talk about the need to pay something back, we can mean that in two ways – it's not just the cash, it's trust too, and that is even more valuable."

In her speech on Saturday, March 23, Llinos Medi also addressed the mater and called on the need to tighten rules on political donations both in Senedd and in Westminster.

She said: "We now have a new First Minister elected with a very small majority and who financed his campaign with a financial donation from an individual who has been accused of breaking environmental rules. Where have the basic principles of public life gone friends? It looks like 'bank transaction' is more important than 'public service'.

"Not all parties are the same. I’m proud that Plaid Cymru is a grassroots party, and that means being accountable to the people we represent, not to big business and billionaire investors. Let’s tighten the rules and ensure no party can buy votes to interfere in our democracy."

Their stand on the co-operation agreement

Since the Senedd election in 2021, Plaid has been supporting a Welsh Labour government in exchange for commitments on Plaid priorities such as an expanded Senedd and free school meals. However, this has led to criticism that the party is "propping up" Welsh Labour, and there have been concerns amongst its party members that the agreement is making it harder to differentiate between the two parties and their

The co-operation agreement is due to come to an end in December 2024. The Plaid Cymru leader has made it clear it will not be renewed in order for the party to fully commit to opposition.

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth

The agreement is still working on matters such as the proposed Senedd reforms which could see a change to the election system and more Senedd members. In his speech on Friday, Rhun ap Iorwerth accused Wales' new First Minister Vaughan Gething of lacking any ideas to solve Wales' challenges.

He said Mr Gething should take responsibility for "creating the challenges they themselves now inherit". He also said that Mr Gething had "undermined" faith in his leadership bid, and called on the new First Minister to rebuild trust. But could this have an impact on the remaining months of the agreement?

Speaking to WalesOnline, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS said: "People across Wales don't seem too happy with what's happening, it doesn't feel like a good thing, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth in terms of why it was accepted and what the relationship was. It brings the credibility of the First Minister into question.

"But if you take out the person, it is essentially an agreement between two parties to deliver on something, and we will continue to deliver." When asked if there was a chance the agreement would end earlier, he said: "Who knows? We still have things we need to deliver, but the date for it to finish is in December, that's in the agreement and it's a two-party agreement."

Calls for a Wales only Covid inquiry

During his speech on Saturday, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and the party's spokesperson for health paid tribute to the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group. He also accused Welsh Labour of avoiding scrutiny and called it a "disgrace" that the government had refused a Wales-only Covid inquiry.

The UK Covid Inquiry was based in Cardiff for three weeks and looked over how the handling of the virus played out in Wales. WalesOnline reported on every single day of the inquiry, including the testimony of Vaughan Gething and Mark Drakeford, which you can read more here.

During his speech, Mr ap Gwynfor said that he was "in solidarity" with the junior doctors that were striking. The Member of Senedd also shared Plaid Cymru's plans if they were to become the next Welsh Government, which included putting a retention and training programme in place to recruit 500 more GPs in Wales over a two-term period.

He also said that Plaid would ensure that carers in Wales were paid at least £1 an hour above the real living wage. He said: "Our carers are the unsung heroes of our health and care system, caring, tendering, and looking after our vulnerable loved ones day in and day out, and they do it because they care. Our message to carers is – if you care for our loved ones, then a Plaid Cymru government will care for you."