Wednesday, November 29, 2006
"I'm out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world!" Woody Guthrie
As we, Ógra Shinn Féin, enter into an intense Broad Anti Imperialist campaign (A.R.I.S.E.), we must be pitching our message and actions to the widest possible audience.
The campaign will no doubt witness the distribution of leaflets, thousands of posters fly posted from Derry to Kerry, protests, and public debates.
All the above are massively important actions, the core of the campaign in a sense, and by doing so we will reach a widely receptive audience.
However if we are to truly step it up a gear and be imaginative, we can reach thousands more youth across Ireland. I am talking about the social aspect of the campaign.
Just like last year's hugely successful 'Rock Against The Blocks', Ógra Shinn Féin will be organising 'A.R.I.S.E. Nights' across Ireland. Each event being a lively mix of social, music and politics. It is a way of bringing the politics of the A.R.I.S.E. campaign to a different audience. Realising that political debates aren't everyone's cup of tea, here is a novel way of promoting politics.
Music has always been used in Ireland as a tool of 'protest' and defience, inspiring and uniting communities against any onslaught. 'Protest songs', internationally such as those so popular during the cycle of struggles of the late 1960s in which civil rights and anti-imperialist militants wrote, sang and played aimed to mobilize social movements against existing institutions and policies.
The 'A.R.I.S.E Nights' of today will hope to envigourate that spirit and politicise and empower a new generation of youth. The nights will include all types of music from rebel, to traditional, ska and rock, and will include a speech on the night.
The 'A.R.I.S.E Nights' begin tonight (Wed 29 Nov) with the first being organised upstairs in the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road, Belfast @ 10pm. Music is by Ireland's biggest rebel band 'The Spirit of Freedom.'
'A.R.I.S.E Night' coming to a town near you soon!
'As long as Imperialism exists, it will, by definition exert its domination over other countries. Today that domination is called neo-colonialism.' Che Guevara
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Over the coming months Ógra Shinn Féin will conduct a number of interviews with young female activists. Allowing young women to find their voice and to promote women in struggle.
Speaking candidly about her involvement in republican youth politics 17-year-old Roisin McGreevy speaks of her involvement, role and introduction to Ógra Shinn Féin.
Having Joined Ógra Shinn Féin in East Down in November 2005 Roisin recalls one of a number of reasons why she joined,
“I was always a young republican but never thought of joining Sinn Féin until my family were the victims at the centre of a plot manufactured by the RUC. I just couldn’t sit back an let that happen any more, I felt that by joining Ógra I would be doing my bit, policing is a sensitive issue to me. How can any one sit back and watch their own family suffer at the hands of these scum. Not only is a blind eye turned to their actions but they are aided and abetted fully by the British crown.”
Currently within Ógra Shinn Féin Roisin holds two important portfolios,
“I am secretary of my own Ógra cumann, which is East Down. As secretary I would organise and ensure that meeting of Ógra are held on a regular basis and also organise activism in accordance with the membership of Ógra in the East Down area."
"I am also equality officer for the Uladh Cúige of Ógra. I have seen that Ógra activists are mostly male. I hope to recruit more females into Ógra both at a local and national level.”
“Women are to a lesser extent involved in Ógra. Through my capacity as equality officer of Cuige Uladh of Ógra Shinn Fein I would like to see an increase in the membership of Ógra of women. In Co. Down we seem to have bucked the trend in Ógra with female comrades outnumbering males, so we certainly are showing the way in terms of the gender balance within Ógra”
“There are also two other areas of recruitment I will be looking into. Firstly I will be looking to increase our membership in the 26 counties and in particular the 3 counties, which come under the Ulster Cúige. I will also look to increase the number of the ‘new Irish’ into Ógra Shinn Fein. Increasingly people are making Ireland their home from different countries worldwide. Ógra need to bring them on board and give them their place in the struggle”
Reflecting on a memorable year in Ógra Roisin recalls a visit to Co. Tyrone for the west Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin Demilitarisation Weekend in October 2006,
“We went to Tyrone and visited the house of 2 IRA volunteers, Gerard and Martin Harte who were ambushed by the SAS at Drumnakilly (Alongside their comrade Brian Mullin) on the 30th August 1988. We spoke to the mother; she welcomed about 50 of us into her house and fed everyone of us too!! She thanked us all for coming but we as young republicans were honoured to be hosted by the mother of the 2 fallen volunteers. Thank- you Winnie!!”
Throughout the year Roisin has overseen a number of actions in the East Down area undertaken by Ógra.
“My Ógra cumann got to work on the suicide prevention campaign an have produced a booklet aimed at youth, raising awareness of suicide and also prevention. Suicide in the Mourne area, like so many other districts throughout Ireland is increasing at a startling rate.”
Currently plans are afoot for further expansion in County Down for Ógra, according to Roisin,
“We intend to expand Ógra into a few more areas in Co. Down, at the minute there are already 3 within the county, with in these we are looking to recruit as many young republicans as possible, to make their voice heard in this part of Ireland. It’s about consolidating what we have and expanding into areas where we currently aren’t in."
If Rosin wasn’t involved in Ógra she exclaims,
“I would be lost! I mean the people I have met through Ógra, we are all very close and the camaraderie within Ógra is second to none. Never mind the weekends away to different counties, its a great experience. Ógra also provides forum for you to voice your opinions amongst your peers and it helps you build confidence. Not only this but it allows you to develop your own republican politics and hear a different perspective on things- one that you wont hear in the mainstream media.”
Outside of Ógra Roisin leads a full and active life,
“I love Gaelic games, I play camogie and football, I go Newry College and am studying sport science, I would like to go on to be a sports massage therapist!
Concluding Roisin Said,
“What I love about Ógra is that it really is the voice of the youth and we make ourselves heard, and get our views and activists out there! For example, we held a massive anti imperialist protest on the giants cause way during the summer, and the following week we were taking part in the first republican parade through Kilkenny in just under a century- which was organised by Ógra. That is progress- that is Ógra."
Favourite Food: Chips !!
Favourite Drink : Water
Favourite Music / Artist: Christy Moore is a legend!!
Favourite Film: cool runnings
Favourite Book: Im not really a book worm !
Most memorable moment in Ógra: Ógra protested at a Brit camp in Omagh and erected the tri-colour over it , claiming it back in the name of the Irish Republic. The Brits plan to pull out of Omagh in August 2007 so it was a huge victory for Ógra in the area and indeed Ógra nationally who travelled to Omagh for just under a decade now to raise the issue of British demilitarisation in the county Tyrone town.
Person you would like to meet (living) Bik McFarlane
Person you would like to meet (deceased) Bobby Sands
If you were president of Ireland or Taoiseach what 3 things would you do to change Ireland?
- Legislate for a united Ireland (and not just pay lip service to it)
- Better Health care
- Encourage more young people into politics-without the youth there is no future!!
From the 8th - 10th December, Young Wexford Republicans will host a youth weekend in Gorey.
The weekend will be named in honour of the great Irish Revolutionary Liam Mellows who was leadership in another Republican Youth Movement, Na Fianna. A Lecture during the weekend will also pay tribute to a more recently deceased Revolutionary, Daithi Forde.
The events will be a mixture of political, social and cultural, with historic tours of the area, discussions on the struggle domestically and internationally, a Republican March to remember Mellows and a Social Night.
Speaking ahead of the weekend, ÓSF activist Jason Doyle said,
"This weekend is being organised by a number of young Republicans who after the anticipated success of the weekend will be formally establishing a new Ógra cumann in North Wexford."
"Wexford is traditionally a solid Republican community, dating back to the Pikemen, and young republicans are keen to build on that strong tradition by establishing a radical youth movement in the area - and we have plenty of inspiration behind us, with people like Liam Mellows and Daithi Forde to aspire too."
"As this is the inaugral Liam Mellows Ógra Shinn Féin Weekend, we would formally invite Ógra cumann from throughout Ireland to attend - we look forward to seeing you in Gorey."
For full clár of the weekend please log onto: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79895
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Concert will bring to an end the activities held to remember the 25th Anniversary of the Hungerstrike.
Ógra Shinn Féin will be playing an active role on the night - please ensure all Ógra cumann maximise attendance at this 'not to be missed' event. Billets will be provided for Ógra activists.
Tickets available from ÓSF Dublin Organiser Brian Keane, ring on (00353) 863437577, or alternatively they can be purchased at the Sinn Féin Bookshop and Ticketmaster outlets.
His biography of IRA Volunteer and hunger striker Bobby Sands tells the story of this young man from his childhood days until his death at the age of twenty-seven in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. A thoughtful and well researched work, ‘Nothing But an Unfinished Song’ at once examines Bobby Sands’ status as an icon and depicts him as the young man he was to his family, friends and comrades.
Denis O’ Hearn read from his book and told the audience,
“It is important to reflect on the sacrifices that were made by these young man and perhaps revisit our own perceptions of the events of 1981. We cannot forget that those who died on that Hunger Strike over the summer of ’81 were all young men, in their twenties and early thirties, some with families and relationships. We must re-examine their iconic status and also see the humanity that informed their actions. I have written this book so as people can learn of Bobby Sands as not just an icon, but a person too."
The launch was organized in conjunction with Sinn Féin Gaillimh Thiar, and hosted by the NUIG cumann. Speaking at the launch, Colm Ó Ceannabháin, general election candidate for Galway West, thanked the cumann in NUIG and Denis O’ Hearn for traveling to the West to launch his book, and told the audience that it was fitting that ‘Nothing But an Unfinished Song’,
“is launched in Galway at this time. This year has seen many events to commemorate the 1981 Hunger Strike, and as this twenty-fifth anniversary year draws to a close I would like to thank all who were involved."
‘Nothing But an Unfinished Song’ is available in most book shops and online at sinnfeinbookshop.com and is priced at around €20.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
At the recent National Congress Ogra passed a motion in support of Native American prisoner Leonard Peltier. We must now honour that motion and as part of the A.R.I.S.E campaign, act to FREE LEONARD!
The following is a letter from Leonard:
Greetings my relatives,
Again I must say ‘my relatives’ because we are all related in one way or another by natural design of the Creator and by our common concerns for the earth and freedom. I have to acknowledge that another year has passed since my illegal imprisonment; thirty years have gone by while I remain illegally incarcerated.
It seems that this year is one for reflection. Relatives from struggles around the world are stopping to reflect on the lives of friends, comrades, and loved ones who are now gone. During the past thirty years I have seen many people leave my life and journey to the spirit world.
I have learned from the many people that have come into my life the true meaning of friendship and solidarity. With that, I must salute and address my friends, brothers and comrades in Ireland. I especially want to express my condolences to the families of the Hunger Strikers from a quarter-century ago. I want to send my warmest greetings to my friend Gerry Adams. I also want to salute each of my friends throughout Ireland that have supported me for so many years.
I pray that you will continue to lend me your support and consider me your friend.At this time, my friends and relatives in Ireland are suffering loss, but also celebrating the memories of those from their communities who have now gone to the spirit world. 25 years ago you lost 10 young men in the prime of their lives. Men who would have been starting families or graduating from university if they’d been born into a more just society suffered in the most inhumane way possible.
When Bobby Sands died on May 5th, 1981, millions of people from around the world joined their voices together to condemn the British government that allowed him to perish. I joined my voice to theirs. I fasted in solidarity with the Hunger Strikers for forty days during that dreadful year. Fasting is something that I have done many times, when I was a free man, while participating in our sacred Sun Dance.
The sufferings of our relations in Ireland are pains that we as Indian people know all too well. Our suffering, our fasting and our struggling links us together with a common bond. That is why I say to you, there in Ireland, you are my relatives. As your relative, let me join my thoughts, tears, and prayers with yours as you commemorate your fallen, especially those who died on Hunger Strike in 1981. My family and your families, my pain and your pains, my peoples struggle and the struggles of your people are all connected… we truly are all related.
Thirty-one years ago the Lakota elders asked for help and protection from the GOON squad that was terrorizing the Lakota Nation. I, along with many others, responded to that call. I simply responded to a call to help others protect our lands, culture and traditions. I ask that you not loose focus on the real issue, which is that people suffering extreme hardships need not be. Even today we see children, women and elders being murdered in Pine Ridge and Belfast, on Big Mountain in Navajo country and in Basque country in Spain… and all in the name of justice.
From Chiapas to El Salvador and all around this Mother Earth lands are being taken, cultures are being robbed of their languages, and the extermination of traditions are occurring on a daily basis. I must share with you that, as the years have passed, every day I hear routinely the sounds of my cell door opening in the morning and closing at night.
Yet, I have not forgotten what I was asked to do when I was asked to respond to the call our Elders sent- a cry for help. Now I once again must call on you for your help. I ask you to join your voices and efforts with mine. A young Cheyenne man by the name of Dave Bailey is representing me in Ireland and England, in an effort to highlight my case, and search for solutions in that part of the world that will eventually mean I never again have to hear the sounds of cell doors opening and closing. I ask you to do all you can to support his efforts, my efforts, and the efforts of all Indian people.
I humbly thank you for the warmth, hospitality, and support that you have shown our people over the years when they have come into your community. As you commemorate your fallen and your dead, remember that our suffering is linked to yours.
We mourn with you and pray for you… as relatives.
Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related)
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
How do we create a 'i care' culture amongst the youth of today - creating a generation of youth that feels self worth and understands that they have a 'part to play' in society?
What issues should be tackled by elected activists, community activists, political parties, youth groups and the youth themselves to ensure a confident vibrant youth movement in Ireland?
How do we achieve the liberation and empowerment of one of the most marginalized section of Irish society - the youth?
Can a broad, pro-independence, leftist mass youth movement be created in Ireland? And How? Thinking politically, economically, culturally and socially - how can it be achieved?
What is Ógra Shinn Féin's role in this?
A.R.I.S.E and find the answers!
"The Fianna ideal can save the future!" Liam Mellows
Monday, November 20, 2006
Ógra Shinn Féin will be holding a day of action on Wednesday 22nd November, in various colleges (Magee, Queen's, St Mary's and Jordanstown) through out the 6 counties to highlight the cost of British Direct Rule.
The meeting was very productive with topic ranging from campaigning on the Hill Tara issue to fundraising and organising Ógra weekends within the Cúige.
After the workshops on “planning for the coming year” finished, areas report on what local work was being done at the moment. The reports that were been given show a hive of activity with in the Cúige, with banners being made, leaflet drops, talks being organise, trips being planned to the Blocks and one area even planning a sponsored swim in the ice waters of the sea in early January to name just some of the work that is happening with in Leinster Ógra. There was also a political up date as part of the meeting with Ógra activist raising a number of interesting points around current developments.
When the meeting was concluded Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin members joined with there comrades from Dublin Ógra and had a leaflet drop and petition signing out side the GPO highlighting the issue of José Ignacio de Juana Chaos Hunger Strike and calling for his immediate release as part of Ógra A.R.I.S.E.( Anti Racism Imperialism Sectarianism Exploitation) campaign
José Ignacio de Juana Chaos is a political prisoner from the Basque country and has commenced a second hunger strike after being forced feed off the first one. This time he say’s it till the end, He did so on the eve of his sentencing 11th of November in protest against the expected term of 12.5 years, which has been handed down by the Spanish court, this sentence is for promoting 'terrorism', [de Juana Chaos authored a series of articles calling for the continuation & escalation of ETA's armed campaign.]
There were hundreds of leaflets handed out and dozens of names collected for the petition. Speaking at the leaflet drop Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin organiser Eugene Garvey said,
“As Ógra actives we feel meeting are only worth having if something productive comes out of them, we don’t do talking shops. When we see a campaign that we should be backing or highlighting we go out on the streets and do so. As Irish republicans we understand what a hunger strike is all about, it is the last form of protest taking by people in desperate situation. We are acting on this issue today because tomorrow may be too late.”
"We mounted a picket today to express our solidarity with the beleaguered community in Rossport, and to raise awareness of the theft of our natural resources."
"We see this issue as part of a broad anti-imperialist struggle and as an integral part of our newly launched A.R.I.S.E. Campaign. We are witnessing massive corporations like Shell and Statoil, bullying a small community and robbing an entire nation with the help of a morally bankrupt state."
"We also used the action to remember the victims of Shell's intransigence, the many peaceful protesters who were beaten, bruised and batton-charged by the Gardai on Friday last, and of course Ken Sara Wiwa who was hung by a Nigerian government that was bankrolled by Shell EP."
"Ogra Shinn Fein is calling for a general boycott of Shell and Statoil stations, and also for people to make their voices heard on the issue and travel to Rossport on the next National Day of Action, Friday, November the 24th."
Thursday, November 16, 2006
It’s that time of year again folks. Yep, it’s budget time. But this year is a little different due to the upcoming elections scheduled for this summer. Brian Cowen has got his Santa Claus costume on again and he’s going to open his magic sack and give us what we all want for crimbo. Because of course, we have been very good boys and girls all year – and haven’t passed even one motion of “no confidence” in his government. This, despite the fact that Bertie has been up to his eyes in crap all year. No surprise I suppose, and from what I make of it they’ll be back in again next term with Labour. Sure with their sluttish ways, it’s quite obvious that if they’re so willing to get into bed with the Blueshirts, they’d jump into the leaba with anybody (i.e. Fianna Fail) and to hell with the “working man” they claim to stand for……but that’s another story…..
Back to the Estimates though. So government spending is going up by a fantastic 8%. Wonderful. Or so you might think. And rather like Uncle Ernie they’ve had a “fiddle about” with the income tax exceptions, tax credits and tax bands. But a hundred quid here and there really doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference. And while I and all other right-thinking individuals welcome the rise in Government spending however there are many areas which will still not be addressed through these budgetary mechanisms. The wealth that has been generated over the last decade has not been used to deliver better public services or improved social protections. We still have almost 44,000 on social housing waiting lists, 6.8% of the population live in consistent poverty, and the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report have placed the state 17th out of 18 high-income OECD countries in its human poverty index. This index was compiled by calculating life expectancy, adult literacy, long-term unemployment and risk of poverty.
For years the Government have known that a substantial portion of the population are living in poverty and have done nothing but make half-hearted promises which they fail to keep anyway with regard to social protections and alleviating the hardship faced by many throughout the Twenty - Six Counties today. We are constantly referred back to the shining light of social partnership agreements and told that this budget will achieve everything we have ever wished for, hand in hand with “Towards 2016”. This, for want of a better phrase, is bullshit. The government still have not even implemented all the agreements reached under the last social partnership deal – “Sustaining Progress”. I am not so naïve to believe that they will actually deliver on what they say they will. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me etc. Except I’m a cynical sort so I never believe them in the first place.
It is an incredibly poor reflection on Irish society that 9.7% of all children in the 26-counties live in consistent poverty, with 22.7% living in relative poverty. This “poverty” is not the sort where a child thinks they are deprived because they do not have the newest Playstation or the latest Air Max. This is real and abject deprivation. It is the kind where their parents are unable to afford substantial meals, heating, adequate shoes and clothing, and are experiencing debt problems arising out of the ordinary costs of living. The failure of this government is exemplified by the fact that the life chances of children are still significantly influenced by the economic and social position of their parents. The effect of this rate of poverty on children is astounding. There are at least 50,000 children on the social housing waiting lists. This budget will do nothing to address their needs.
The Minister for Finance would have us believe that the Government is spending wisely and that the tax system here is completely adequate. In truth, basic economics will show you that a tax system is highly inequitable where the more you earn, the less you pay. To achieve a better, more inclusive, more equal society; you need to spend more on public services. To spend more on public services, you need to have more revenue. And bingo there ye have it; for more revenue you need to raise taxes. This raising of taxes however, needs to be done in such a way that it is no longer the low to middle income earner that is absolutely crucified in paying taxes (and stealth taxes introduced by the government to top it off). Successive tax cuts have benefited high-income individuals more and tax expenditures have re-distributed wealth in favour of those who have far too much wealth already than they even know what to do with.
This budget should have been used to prioritise households on low incomes and those who cannot cope with the rising cost of living, housing and have no access to essential public services and amenities. Previous budgets have failed those who have been left behind by the Celtic Tiger affluence and prosperity that certain sections of the population have benefited from.
The revenue exists to lift people out of poverty. The Department of Finance have stated that the public finances remain in good health with a projected surplus of 1% GDP. The cash flow is there but the will to change the face of Irish society is not. This Government have not performed for the lower earners and this budget will do little or nothing to help them. While a Garda service of 14,000 is to be welcomed, it will not put dinner on the table or pay the rent of the 24% of the population that live at risk of poverty. It will not help the 235,000 OAPs that are receiving an inadequate pension. Irish Pension rates are among the lowest in the OECD. Meanwhile this government continues to favour a regressive income distribution in favour of the well off.
If they really wanted to help the less well off, they could. But the less well-off do not line Fianna Fail pockets and slip them brown envelopes in the tents at the Galway races. They really can’t afford it when they’re earning €7.65 per hour (if they’re lucky) and there isn’t enough staff at the Labour Inspectorate to check that they’re even earning that.
So there it is. Another crap budget. Another wasted opportunity. Another year goes by where the government fails the people in spectacular fashion. Cowen has enough money and enough leeway in his Santa sack that if he fiddled about a bit more he could make real and significant progressive change in this state. But even though we’ve all been angelic boys and girls this year and haven’t been naughty at all, it’s only the boys and girls who have money and affluence already that will get anything in real terms out of Cowen’s Christmas box.
The following statement is an appeal from our Basque comrades Segi who are demanding that we take action in highlighting the ongoing censorship and outlawing of the youth movement, we must mobilise and show solidarity with our oppressed comrades now!
We send you this e mail to inform around the last step in the judicial process against the youth organizations Jarrai-Haika-Segi. we attach one presentation of our work and motivations. Today 16 of November the special court of Spain is making a review of the cause opened against our work on 2001 with the illegalization of Haika. They want impute us like a terrorist organization, which was not possible in the regular judicial process because they cannot demonstrate an organic relation between us and ETA.
The sentence had condemned our militants for 2 or 3 years of prison, but they were no ingoing because all of them had complete its sentences like preventive prisoners. But the Spanish government always finds or creates new tools to go ahead with the repression against the Basque liberation movement.
Now they have take in care the appeal petition of one fascist syndicate calls Manos blancas and which don’t represent nobody to try to become our condemns higher even between 10 and 12 years with the argument that the people who is working for Segi have the judicial definition of terrorist groups directors.
It is a new attack against one political organization which tries to develop our social political and cultural tools to build a new kind of society. And it is heavier because it happens when we are trying to build a new scenario for democracy and peace in our country.
We call you to support Segi and to say stop all this kind of attacks against young organizations. We know a lot of you have had the same problem, and we think that in the international area is very important help each others.
We want do a public demonstration of this international denunciation of illegalization and repression of youth movements, is the same here or in Czech like what was happened with the comrades of KSM , MKLP in Turky, DTP in Kurdistan or the comrades of Amanca in Sardinia.
We will do this press conference in 15 days. we call all of you to support this declaration sending support mails to our mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, and to do solidarity actions in your countries. Inform us about your acts to these mails.
We call to the international press to inform around what is happening here.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Hugh Orde was joined on the panel by professor Kieran McEvoy (Institute Director) and Judge David Smyth QC (Chair of the Board of Directors), however a few minutes into his speech the Orde was confronted at the front of the lecture theatre by members of Ógra who had managed to smuggle a banner into the hall after being refused entry for protesting outside.
The activists held the banner, highlighting the issue of collusion in front of the panel for the duration of Orde’s speech. The concluding question and answer section which took place was then almost completely focused on collusion and state killings, with Hugh Orde being put on the spot on a number of occasions by questions posed by Ógra members, members of An Fhirnne and the public.
Commenting on the protest, Chair of the Sheena Campbell Cumann Ógra Shinn Féin, who organised the protest, Dermot Keenan said,
“Our protest here tonight can be hailed as a great success in the ongoing struggle to highlight the incidents of Collusion which were directed and executed by the British Government throughout its dirty war fought in Ireland. Tonight Hugh Orde was unwilling to answer questions which must be answered for the families of those killed by state forces, he tried to defend the use of informers and the amnesties they receive even though they hold information which could be used in the prosecution of those involved in state killings. Tonight was a success but much more must be done!”
“The issues of collusion and political policing will not go away and Ógra will be to the fore in ensuring that the PSNI and British Government are held accountable and responsible for their actions. Under or new national campaign A.R.I.S.E we must intensify our actions to deliver the truth. We must continue to campaign to end sectarian and oppressive state policing."
To view flashbox of the protest please log onto:
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
An exciting new CD entitled Saoirse was launched on Saturday 11 November in the Sinn Féin Bookshop in Dublin. Comprising a variety of artists and songs depicting struggle in the Irish and international contexts, the CD is the brainchild of a group of republicans working against racism in Ireland - Republicans against Racism.
One of those behind the project, ex-prisoner Michael (Dixie) Dickson explained: "We saw the need for republicans to get more actively involved in counteracting racism in Ireland. The CD is one way of promoting and funding our project. We approached a number of artists who have demonstrated concern about the issue of racism and they were happy to participate in the making of the CD."
Dixie wishes to thank artists who contributed to the production, the staff of the Sinn Féin Bookshop and Coiste na nIarchimí and everyone else who lent their support.
The inside sleeve of the CD quotes Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh as follows:
"As Irish republicans we should look at our history to learn not to do to others what was done to us. It is not that long ago when we were at the butt end of the racist attacks, abuse and slurs. It is not long ago that we too were discriminated against because of who we were."
Among the artists featured are Black 47, Los Fastidios, Terry 'Cruncher' O'Neill, Pol Mac Adaim and others.
The CD costs €10 and is available from the Sinn Féin Bookshop, 58 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. www.sinnfeinbookshop.com
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Ballymoney Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay has said that the EU must make the upholding of human rights and democracy for the Kurdish people a pre-condition of Turkish admittance to the European Union. Speaking after completing a 4-day tour of Turkish Kurdistan representing Ógra Shinn Féin Councillor McKay said:
"Turkey's treatment of the Kurdish people has been totally abhorrent and it's efforts to deny this sizeable minority their human rights has been plain to see. After one of the public debates I took part in Diyarbakir this week a number of international speakers, including myself, had our passports seized and photocopied by the police. This was just one example of how Turkey's Article 301 is used to threaten citizens for engaging in free speech criticising the government. Another example was when we were warned not to say the word 'Kurdistan' during a radio interview as the Government would have the radio station shut down.
"The Turkish government have also introduced laws to deny Kurds representation in the Turkish parliament. The ruling that parties are not allowed to be represented in the Turkish parliament unless they get over 10% of the national vote is clearly aimed at ensuring that the 20-30million Kurds in Turkey are kept out of the parliament and are politically disempowered.
"The Turkish army plays a major role in oppressing the Kurds and it's use of chemical weapons to kill 14 Kurdish PKK members earlier this year was a serious violation of the Geneva accords that it's military allies in the US and Britain failed to condemn. They also failed to comment on the murder of 13 civilians, including 4 children, which happened in the wake of these killings. The forced conscription of Kurdish people into a Turkish army that they clearly loathe is another major issue that must be addressed before EU membership can be granted to Turkey.
"It is vital that the EU uses the opportunities presented to it to help achieve a lasting and peaceful solution to the problems that exist in Turkish Kurdistan. Kurdish people clearly want to see a permanent and just end to the conflict and central to that will be a positive response and further reforms from the Turkish government in the wake of last month's PKK ceasefire."
A video of the Turkish army's killing of 14 Kurdish civilians during protests in March is available at the following link: http://www.kurdishuprising.com/Download.htm.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Sean Mac Giolla Easpaig
Ógra Shinn Féin
An Srath Bán
Against the backdrop of work recommencing on Shell's controversial gas pipeline in Co. Mayo, I would like to draw your readers attention to the ongoing campaign against this dangerous development, and to the wider political issue of the giveaway of our national resources by the Irish government.
Shell is a British/Dutch multinational company seeking to benefit hugely from the massive Corrib gas field off the coast of Mayo. Successful Irish governments have basically given away the rights to this precious resource to the consortium of Shell, Marathon Oil and Statoil with effectively no benefit at all to the Irish people.
The key political players who have benefited privately from this "dirty deal" are Noel Dempsey, Frank Fahey, Des O'Malley and Dermot Ahern to name a few. It is a disgrace that for Irish people to benefit from our own Corrib gas, we have to buy it back from Shell.
As oil and gas exploration companies are often very secretive about their prospecting results from these kind of projects, we will probably never know the extent of profit to be gained from the Corrib gas project.
Like all multinational companies, Shell will do everything in its power, legal or not, to make sure they haul in the cash, and they have a global reputation for doing this. The people of Ogoni in Nigeria know this all too well as the Nigerian government at the behest of shell, executed nine activists who opposed the dangerous activities of the company.
Last year, five men were imprisoned by the Irish government for standing up to the multinational in opposition to a dangerous pipeline running through their community. As in Nigeria, Shell is siding with the Irish government, doing "dirty deals" to get what they want.
The residents of Rossport are involved in a campaign to stop this illegal development in the interests of their own health and safety.
We in Ógra Shinn Féin call on the people of Ireland to boycott Shell and Statoil by using alternative garages. We must all get behind the people of Rossport and actively oppose Shell and the Irish government's illegal activities.
We also call for those responsible for this project to be held accountable including the resignation of those who have presided over this scandalous affair. Irish resources must be kept in the hands of the Irish people!
This time he says it is "till the end"
ETA prisoner José Ignacio de Juana Chaos has commenced another hunger strike. He did so on the eve of his sentencing in protest against the expected term of 12.5 years, which has been handed down by the Spanish court, this sentence is for promoting 'terrorism', [ de Juana Chaos authored a series of articles calling for the continuation & escalation of ETA's armed campaign. ]
The Spanish prime minister Zapatero has said in a statement that he expects the sentence (by the independent judiciary) will further complicate the nascent Basque Peace Process. Already most observers recognise that the process is in crises, the internal ETA magazine only a week ago threatened a return to armed struggle if political progress in not seen to be made by late Autumn.
Though critics of Basque Independance would point out that since late Spring over 120 incidents of arson have been attributed to the group & one liberation of 350 arms.
This is not the first time José Ignacio de Juana Chaos has gone on hunger strike, the Irish Basque comitee & Ógra Shinn Féin covered the first one which ended in him being force-fed here :-
J.I. de Juana Chaos has already served 18 years in prison. It is most curious that his unusual surname ("Chaos") is never re-produced in full by his english speaking supporters.
Last links to the ETA ceasefire of 2006 http://indymedia.ie/article/75012
& comment on the possibility of a return to the armed campaign.
Jo ta ke.
We will stand with you Comrade!
Ógra Shinn Féin
Thousands of leaflets were distributed to GAA fans exposing the human rights abuses of Coke in Colombia and India.
A banner was also hung on the stands inside the ground, which raised the issue to the 82,000 present in Croke park, and the many other thousands watching on T.V.
The Killer Coke issue ties in with Ógra's new A.R.I.S.E campaign because it is highlighlighting Economice Imperialism and Exploitation.
But also a motion was passed at Ógra Shinn Fein's National Congress calling for a boycott and in support of the Killer Coke campaign, and true to their word, Ógra showing they don't just talk about their politics, got active the next day, highlighting the exploitation and human rights abuses of Coca Cola.
To find out more on the campaign please log onto: http://www.killercoke.org
Peadar de Bluit
Ógra Shinn Féin
Ós na moltaí is déanaí a tháinig ón dá rialtas ag na cainteanna ag Naomh Andrew tá moladh ar leith ann do Acht Gaeilge. In ainneoin go bhfuil fáilte is fiche roimh an sprioc seo chun seans a thabhairt don Gaeilge fás is forbairt, tá sé i bhfad Éireann thar ama.
Is amaideach é gabhadh agus trialach Máire Nic an Bháird a tharla le déanaí. N'fheadar an bhfeicfimid an t-Acht Gaeilge nua á chur i bhfeidhm ar chomhcéim le teanga an Bhéarla agus deimhin á dhéanamh nach mbeidh a thuilleadh den geaitsíocht ann, cosúil le gabhadh Mháire.
Is saineolaithe iad na Breatnaigh ar iarracht a dhéanamh a dtoil as chur i bhfeidhm ar phobal na hÉireann. Tá teipthe leo cheana agus teipfidh leo arís.
Tá sé thar am don dá rialtas deighleáil leis an teanga Gaelach mar teanga beo in ionad peil polaitíochta. Níl sé de cheart acu ár dteanga a úsáid mar ábhar éilithe ins na cainteanna.
Is ár dteanga í agus TÁ SÉ DE CHEART AGAINN Í A LABHAIRT
Demanding the right to speak the Irish Language
In the recent proposals set out by the two Governments following the St. Andrews talks there is provision made for an Irish Language Act. Whilst this is a welcome move towards facilitating the Irish language to grow and develop on the island and abroad it is long overdue.
The recent arrest and subsequent court case surrounding Máire Nic an Bhaird is farcical to say the least. Will the proposed act see Irish language being treated on a par with the English language and make sure the arrests such as Máires a thing of the past.
The British are masters at trying to coerce their ways on the population on Ireland. It has failed numerous times, it will fail once more.
I believe it is high time that the London and Dublin governments deal adequately with the Irish Language outside of ‘political packages.’ It should not be used as a ‘bargaining chip’ for any political party and should stop being treated by such by the two Governments.
The next meeting of the JCDS will take placeon Thursday 9th November, at 7.30pmin the Felons' Club, Falls Road, Belfast.The topic of this discussion will be the question of policing.
All Welcome Fáilte Roimh Chách
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Barry McColgan delivers National Organiser Report.
I would like to thank everyone for travelling here today, especially to our comrades in the SLP Youth who travelled from Britain and our comrades from the Rossport Solidarity Camp. I’d also like to commend the activists for the very mature and informed debate that took place, to the management of Liberty Hall for the privilege of using this fine historical building, and finally to Dublin Ógra for facilitating us this weekend.
From the Congress in February, great work and change has taken place within Ógra Shinn Féin.
Mickey Bravender finished his role as National Organiser shortly following last year’s Congress and we pay massive gratitude to his huge contribution in the rebuilding of Ógra.
When Mickey entered the position of National Organiser in January 2004, there was no National Executive, no Cuige structure, few local cumann, little activity, less profile, and minimal communication and cohesion between the small numbers of groups that existed.
By January 2004, Ógra had not had a National Congress from 2002, had few Ógra weekends, no National Campaigns and where truly in the political wilderness.
An immediate change and burst of energy happened with the appointment of Mickey, within 1 month a National Congress was organised in the Teachers Club, and a National Campaign ‘A President For All’ was rolled out.
A National Executive was established, as where Cuige, and the growth in Cumann and activist base has continued along the way.
That was maintained throughout Mickey’s tenure, leading to the structured, cohesive and growing Ógra of today, and compared to almost 3 years ago Ógra has now firmly placed itself onto the Irish political landscape.
The year started of with a major campaign highlighting suicide prevention and calling for a holistic All Ireland approach in dealing with this massively important issue.
Throughout the course of the campaign, 20,000 leaflets where distributed, a National day of action was held, protests and vigils happened throughout the country, letters bombarded local and national press, Ógra where part of a delegation in meeting with the British Government on the issue of mental health, over 2000 names where added to a petition supporting our demands and just last week, we highlighted the issue at the National Health Rally in Dublin.
We have made a small contribution in highlighting this serious issue which is the biggest killer of Irish youth, and while it is no longer our national campaign, it must continue to be highlighted and campaigned on, until and after our demands are met.
This year also marks the 90 anniversary of the Easter Rising, and I think it is appropriate that we are holding our Congress in Liberty Hall, a place associated with James Connolly and the famous picture of The Irish Citizen Army in bold defiance stating ‘We serve neither King, nor Kaiser.’
Ógra mobilised across Ireland at local graveside commemorations on Easter week, making statements, marching in bands and colour parties, carrying banners and flags, and laying wreaths.
All acts of remembrance for our fallen comrades, to those heroes of 1916 and all acts in pledging ourselves to fulfilling the words of the Proclamation.
This year also witnessed the 25th Anniversary of the Hungerstrike, another groundbreaking moment in Irish History, a catalyst in the Republican Struggle, and a year that created 10 icons of struggle that have and will continue to inspire freedom around the world long after Maggie Thatcher is dead and forgotten.
We humbly organised National days of remembrance on each of our heroes anniversary, we facilitated the Hungerstrike exhibition into a number of Universities and towns, we held public talks and debates, produced the excellent ‘Awaiting The Lark’ book and Ógra t shirt, organised a number of massively successful ‘Rock Against the Blocks’, and we had a very vibrant input into the National Hungerstrike Rally.
All acts to remember the men, to celebrate their lives but also to re-tell their story of inspirational struggle to a new generation.
The Cuige reports have covered many other actions which have happened throughout the year, and its clear to me that Ógra is an organisation constantly on the rise, constantly debating and constantly active.
We don’t just talk about our politics, we practice our politics in the working class, oppressed communities where we live, and it is this grafting and grassroots approach that ensures new recruits.
I am very confident of Ógra’s future.
In July of this year a number of Ógra activists developed a 5 year plan for Ógra, a strategy which clearly outlines where we are at now, where we want to be in 5 years time and how we will get there.
At present Ógra has approx 300 activists, in 5 years we want 3000 activists, and we can achieve that.
Massive growth happened over the past 3 years and that growth will continue. It will continue because we have an informed activist base that is rooted in the communities, it will happen because we will not just live of the back of our fallen comrades, simply coasting along, just doing enough, we must and we will give as much and more as the previous generation, continue to put a challenge to the Leadership, signalling that there is a generation here with itchy feet.
We must realise that it is always the youth that have led the struggle, both physically in carrying out the fighting and grafting, but also mentally, by continually supplying new ideas, new strategy, a new cutting edge approach.
Just look at the Hungerstrikers, all young men from 23-30, some people in this room today are older than some of the Hungerstrikers. Did the Hungerstrikers wait around for guidance and direction, of course not they relied on their own strength, had the confidence to take the lead, using their youthful vigour to tragically force this struggle forward.
We must have the confidence today to realise that the weight of this struggle is on our shoulders, where we have problems with organisation or strategy; we like young activists of yesterday must have the confidence to challenge. It must be up to us to be active, to recruit and to develop strategies
This is how we must deal with the current St Andrews proposals, we must have the confidence to realise that our contributions can make the difference on whether this document is accepted or not.
The power is in your hands!
Onwards to the Socialist Republic!
Ógra Shinn Féin delegates and visitors alike gathered in the historic location of liberty hall for the 8th Annual Ógra Shinn Féin Congress.
Events kicked off on Friday night with an introduction By Ógra Shinn Féin national Organiser Barry McColgan followed by a presentation on the All-Ireland agenda by Rose Dugdale and Jim Monaghan. After this delegates debated and voted on numerous motions dealing with Organisation & Structure of Ógra.
To conclude events for the day there was an interesting workshop on Islam and National Liberation struggles, facilitated by a member of the international delegation from the Socialist Labour Party (S.L.P.)
Saturday started with an internal consultation on the St. Andrews proposals with Sinn Féin’s 6 County Chairperson, Declan Kearney updating Ógra activists on the current political situation. Many Ógra activists had their say on the consultation during the debate, which was held in a very critical but comradely fashion.
Following the political update ÓSF organiser Barry McColgan launched the A.R.I.S.E Campaign. A.R.I.S.E is an acronym meaning Anti Racism, Imperialism, Sectarianism, Exploitation.
During the launch Barry McColgan said, “The aspiration of building a broad anti imperialist front is one of our national strategic objectives. This aspiration had never fully been realised and the evidence of this is witnessed today in the various anti war and progressive/left groups throughout Ireland.”
“When they are rightly calling for war planes out of Shannon and Altergrove, when they are justifiably demanding British troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, where is the mention of occupied Ireland? We are prepared to challenge imperialism and all its evil manifestations, whether that be in Iraq or Ireland”.
Following the launch of the A.R.I.S.E campaign the Ógra Cuige Organisers reported back on an event filled year and reported a steady increase in both activism and membership within Ógra spanned the 32 counties of Ireland. Indeed a number of new cumainn were formed throughout the year and many were represented at the congress throughout the weekend.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams then took to the stage to give the leadership address to the congress.
In his Speech Gerry told the activists gathered that the future is in their hands.
“It is the current membership of Ógra Shinn Féin who will be the party leaders of the future. Pearse Doherty is now a councillor and, we hope, after the next election a future TD for Donegal South-West. Eight years ago, he was elected onto the Ógra National Executive. Toireasa Ferris was also at the first National Congress. She is now a councillor for the party in Kerry and was the first ever Sinn Féin Mayor of Kerry last year. Going further back, even before the founding of Ógra, Deputy Seán Crowe was the party’s youth officer in the 1980s. Look through Sinn Féin today and you will see many of our elected representatives and our activists are people who first got involved in politics through the Ógra.
“Sinn Féin needs to be bigger, and Ógra Shinn Féin needs to be bigger, we need more members and activists. We need more women members. We need to reach out to those people new to Ireland, or marginalised and bring them on board. We need to make their fight, our fight.
“I believe that one person can make a difference. But two people can make twice as much. And it is obvious that twenty, fifty, a hundred people can do even better. It is like a snowball. The more people we bring into Ógra Shinn Féin, the more people we republicanise, the stronger we are, the more change we can effect. And the more change people see us bringing about, the more people will want to be a part of that, part of changing our communities, our workplaces or our country.
Sinn Féin, as the senior party, has a role to play in providing the support and resources that Ógra needs, and perhaps there is more we could have done, and more we can do. But the success of Ógra must be your success. You must not, and cannot, be reliant on anyone but yourselves.”
Following Gerry Adams Keynote address delegates dealt with the rest of the motions from the congress. These ranged from Support for Leonard Peliter to calling for more to be done within Ógra to promote the Irish language.
Members of the Socialist Labour Party and members of the Shell to sea campaign also addressed the congress, before Eugene Garvey brought the 8th Comhdháil Náisúnta with a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann.
Following the conclusion of the congress for the day activists gathered outside the GPO for an Anti Imperialist Protest. Protestors made their present known through chants, posters, banners and a leaflet drop. Many passers by interacted with Ógra and some even joined in the protest
Following the end of the protest delegates returned to the accommodation and put on their dancing shoes and donned their glad rags to a night’s criac agus ceol to the Spirit Of Freedom.
On Sunday morning a large number of Ógra delegates supported a protest held by the Killer Coke campaign outside the compromise rules game in Croke Park between Ireland and Australia.
With events formally over fro the weekend Ógra activists went back to their local areas enthused and motivated by the weekend, of debate, education and craic.
Ógra Shinn Feins new Broad Anti Imperialist Campaign was recently launched at their Congress by National Organiser Barry McColgan.
Anti Racism Imperialism Sectarianism Exploitation
Over the next 6 months Ógra Shinn Féin will be actively engaged in Broad Anti Imperialist campaign.
The campaign will be called A.R.I.S.E, an acronym meaning Anti Racism Imperialism Sectarianism Exploitation.
We believe this is an apt name for the campaign as we are calling on people to arise against Imperialism and all the by products of its destructive and divisive legacy.
Also the aspiration of building a Broad Anti Imperialist Front is one of our National Strategic Objectives. This aspiration has never fully been realised and the evidence of that is witnessed today in the various anti war and progressive/left groups throughout Ireland.
When they are rightly calling for War Planes out of Shannon and Aldergrove, when they are justifiably demanding British troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, where is the mention of occupied Ireland.
We believe the failure to oppose the illegal occupation in our own country, ultimately flaws and discredits any Anti-Imperialist Campaign in the eyes of the Irish and Internationally.
We believe that a true Broad Anti-Imperialist Front can only be effective and credible when they openly challenge Imperialism in all its evil manifestations, whether that be in Iraq or Ireland.
Sometimes broad campaigns can be so broad that it’s hard to have a particular focus on any issue.
In order to avoid this, we are introducing a new focus to the campaign each month.
The Anti-Imperialist campaign will cover many issues, it will cover prisoners, both our own Republican prisoners, but also Internationally like the plight of the Miami 5, Guantanamo Bay, Inaki de Juana and Leonard Peltier.
We will campaign against racism and sectarianism at home but also highlighting how Imperialism has developed and fostered racist and sectarian division around the world in order to divide and rule.
We will campaign for workers rights and against exploitation like in Rossport, exposing the domestic and multinational corporations who grow richer of the back of Slave Labour and Economic Imperialism.
We will campaign against the very obvious manifestations of Imperialism, their illegal occupation of Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Malvinas and of course Ireland.
We have 6 months to raise and to impact on this issue – this must be a campaign which is recognised across Ireland and the World.
How do we highlight the issues?
We mobilise in the National Anti-Imperialist Rallies, we organise protests, we join broad Anti-Imperialist groups where available and where not we form our own, we provide information to the masses through thousands of leaflets and the internet,we use stickers we write opinion pieces and letters for publications everywhere, organise public meetings, debates and social nights and of course to assert our national rights and to highlight the folly of partition, let us come back here next year, safe in the knowledge that we have returned every single Red post Box in the North back to its rightful shade of green.
The campaign begins now. We must rise to the challenge, take this campaign to the streets and countryside, gathering our inspiration from our fallen comrades and build a truly effective Broad Anti Imperialist Front.
Tiocfaidh ar la!
ARISE Campaign Timeline
Nov-Dec: Local launches of campaign/Prisoners/Political Policing
Jan: Rossport/Shell to Sea
March: Imperialism in Ireland –(Raytheon, Shorts, Demil, Shannon, Green Post Box etc)
April: International Imperialism – (Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon etc)
May: Workers Rights (May Day) Exploitation
June: Equality - Feminism
Considering the year that is in it, it is especially appropriate that you are meeting here in Liberty Hall. It was in the basement of this building that the Proclamation of 1916 was printed, a document that continues to be the inspiration of modern Irish republicanism. And it was just outside this building that Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Constance Markievicz set off on Easter Monday, ninety years ago this year.
I want to commend you all.
And I want to especially commend the work Ógra has done since the last National Congress. Republicans are so busy that we rarely have opportunities to reflect on what we have done, to realise what we have achieved.
There is a cliché often repeated by the establishment in this country that young people are not interested in politics. That they are turned off by it. But everywhere I look, it is young people who are involved in campaigns. Not just marching or protesting, but organising the marches, running the protests, dealing with the media, and even creating their own media.
It is young people who ran the anti-war campaign, who took the lead in the Rossport campaign, who were at the forefront of the Stadás campaign for the Irish language, who filled the streets in the Irish Ferries demonstration, and the Make Poverty History march.
Ógra Shinn Féin activists were among the first to take the initiative in support of the Rossport Five when they were imprisoned. It is young people who flocked to the commemorations of the 1981 Hunger Strikes.
It is not that they are turned off by politics, it is that they are turned off by the political establishment, which has failed young people, failed to present a vision, failed to inspire.
Young people do this because they have the idealism. That is what we have in common. We know that each of us, in our own way, can make a difference. Twenty-five years ago this year the hunger strikes were the culmination of years of struggle in the prison. Young people, no different to anyone in this room, in the prisons in Armagh and Long Kesh, at the mercy of a brutal, violent prison regime, clad only in blankets, defied an empire and broke one of the most powerful governments in the world.
Hopefully, no-one will ever again be called on to make those sacrifices, but that strength, that inner belief is a part of each and every one of us. It is what makes us republicans. We know we can make a difference and more than that, we are absolutely determined to do so.
I believe that one person can make a difference. But two people can make twice as much. And it is obvious that twenty, fifty, a hundred people can do even better. It is like a snowball. The more people we bring into Ógra Shinn Féin, the more people we republicanise, the stronger we are, the more change we can effect. And the more change people see us bringing about, the more people will want to be a part of that, part of changing our communities, our workplaces or our country.
So I am delighted to see that the Ógra is continuing to grow in the universities across Ireland as the only national political youth movement.
But it is also important, that in working to build Ógra in the universities, we do not lose sight of the need to reach out to the young men and women who choose not to go on to third level education or, who are denied that opportunity.
Sinn Féin is a party on the move - moving our republican goals forward. Ógra is crucial to our ability to do that. Republicans have a vision of a new future, a better future and we have the spirit and confidence to work with others to achieve this. 25 years ago we failed to move an Irish government to challenge the Thatcher criminalisation policy.
So building political strength and using that strength effectively is of paramount importance in the time ahead. That means strategising, planning, debating and putting the outworking of our deliberations into effect.Six years ago in my Ard Fheis speech I remarked on how close we had come to winning a European seat with Mitchel McLaughlin, and how Sean Crowe and Arthur Morgan and Martin Ferris had almost succeeded in taking seats in Leinster House.Next time round we did better than that. Bairbre de Brun and Mary Lou McDonald are our two MEPs. We have five TDs; 5 MPs and 24 MLAs, as well as several hundred councillors across this island.A good position to be in but we can do better and not just electorally through that is crucial. We can be stronger - politically and ideologically - and in our policies and in our activism. And we must build political alliances.
Bobby Sands reminded us that there is a place, a role for everyone in our struggle. We in this room must understand that.
Sinn Féin needs to be bigger, and Ógra Shinn Féin needs to be bigger, we need more members and activists. We need more women members. We need to reach out to those people new to Ireland, or marginalised and bring them on board. We need to make their fight, our fight.
At the recent health rally I said that I would be very pleased if the government stole our health policies. We are about change and setting the public and political agenda. So it comes as no surprise that the Taoiseach has proposed a constitutional referendum on the rights of children.
I welcome the initiative you are launching this weekend around an ‘anti-imperialist’ campaign. Imperialism can seem an outdated word, a concept that is past its sell-by date. But in simple terms, what it means is the bullying of the weak by the strong. The occupations of Iraq and Palestine, the crippling debt and economic exploitation foisted on the developing world, the efforts to undermine cultural identity and replace it with mass consumerism, are all the actions of the powerful against the rest of us. So we have to learn how to challenge this.
In Ireland of course, we deal with our own legacy of imperialism. We are part of what James Connolly called ‘the re-conquest of Ireland, by its people’. It is about ending the partition of Ireland, about the people of this island shaping our destiny together. But it is also a re-conquest of the resources and wealth produced by our people and using them to tackle poverty and inequality. And it is about the restoration of our national language whose enthusiastic revival in gaelscoileanna throughout Ireland is an inspiration to everyone with a cupla focal.
The re-conquest of Ireland is the task Sinn Féin has set ourselves, and by embarking on this campaign, Ógra is leading the way in making the connection between our struggle here, and that of those people working for peace, independence and justice around the world. And leading the way is something you all better get used to.
It is the current membership of Ógra Shinn Féin who will be the party leaders of the future. Pearse Doherty is now a councillor and, we hope, after the next election a future TD for Donegal South-West. Eight years ago, he was elected onto the Ógra National Executive. Toireasa Ferris was also at the first National Congress. She is now a councillor for the party in Kerry and was the first ever Sinn Féin Mayor of Kerry last year. Going further back, even before the founding of Ógra, Deputy Seán Crowe was the party’s youth officer in the 1980s. Look through Sinn Féin today and you will see many of our elected representatives and our activists are people who first got involved in politics through the Ógra.
Sinn Féin, as the senior party, has a role to play in providing the support and resources that Ógra needs, and perhaps there is more we could have done, and more we can do. But the success of Ógra must be your success. You must not, and cannot, be reliant on anyone but yourselves.
I also want to mention here today the issue of road safety. Alongside suicide, accidents on our roads are killing more and more young people. A generation is being scared by the carnage on our roads. Not a weekend goes by without another life lost and a family and community plunged into grief. While education, or better roads, or safer cars have a part to play - the people who are best placed to tackle this issue are you.
Before finishing, I would like to say something about the choices before republicans today. This is a time of transition, of change. And with that, come challenges and responsibilities. The discussions that have been taking place around the St Andrews’s Proposals and the way forward for the party must be owned by activists.
Young people must ensure your voice is heard in these discussions. There are many challenges facing us. We need to strategic and long headed. And united. Short termism is for short termers. We are about the long term – the future.
Writing in An Phoblacht around this time last year Barry McColgan wrote,
There is a lesson in those words for all of us, young republicans. I hope they guide your debate and discussions this weekend. There is no future for the republican struggle, without young people coming through to carry it forward, to lead, to campaign and to organise towards what Joe Cahill always called, ‘that certain day’, when we achieve unity, independence, and socialism. Remember, we will not get one without the other.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Donal O Driscoll
Ógra Shinn Féin
As we enter into a very challenging period for republicanism, I would like to appeal to republicans to have a bit of perspective. The possibility of joining the Policing Board is something that republicans will find very problematic. What is important in the forthcoming debate is that we realise that not only is this unease natural, but healthy.
The media will, as they have for so long, make republicans out to be the bad guys. If we reject policing, we are 'against peace'; if we accept it, it will be a case of 'what took you so long'? This is why I would warn against SF members buying into policing prematurely on the ground that 'it has to be done'. It doesn't.
The sky will not collapse if SF do not sit on the policing boards; the armed struggle will not suddenly recommence.
Amid all this hysteria in the media, the question of what is right for the republican project is continuously ignored. Sinn Féin is not about getting a few votes and becoming part of a Six County establishment; it is about the struggle to achieve a Socialist Republic along the lines of the Proclamation. The issue of policing could potentially tear this party apart and that cannot be underestimated.
If we are weakened and divided on this issue, how can we implement effective change on this island? The tyrants, hypocrites and liars of the media establishment, both here and in Britain, will not come to our aid if our acceptance of policing results in a haemorrhaging of large numbers of dedicated activists.
I would ask members to take a very hard look at the potential damage this could do to the party. Don't buy into the media hype; the world will not come to an end if we decide to stand our ground on this issue.
It seems to me that all photographs and articles that appear on this site, exclusively feature male comrades.
Its now well past the time that the hard work of young women activists should be prominently promoted on this site.
Its time to commission a few articles as well as start selecting your photographs a little bit better, Mr Moderator.
Maybe its also time for a little bit of gender awareness training.
Look to the good work done by Ella O'Dwyer in An Phoblacht as a way of best representing the contribution of women activists and in turn encouraging women republicans to become confident activists involved in the male dominated terrain of Irish politics.
Lets start a discussion as to how best we can attract young people and in particular young women into our struggle.
Sisters find your voice!!!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Check out the flashbox promoting the Congress: