Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Ógra Shinn Féin
After 38 we are finally saying good riddance to the majority of the British army in Ireland.
In Tyrone they have left their mark. Through collusion with unionist paramilitaries, their shoot to kill policy and the deployment of the SAS in this area many homes in the district have been affected by their actions.
This weekend we in Ógra Shinn Féin will be hosting a 'Slán Abhaile' weekend in Omagh to conclude our successful demilitarisation campaign in Omagh. However we must not get complacent. There will still be 5,000 members of the British army based in the north. Until complete separation from Britain is achieved Irish republicans will not be complacent.
After 38 year we will be glad to see the back of the British army. Quoting the words of James Connolly speaking about the British interference in Ireland ‘The British government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland and never can have any right in Ireland”.
For Republicans this still remains the premise!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin are to host the annual Omagh Demil Weekend 3rd-5th August 2007
ÓSF in West Tyrone welcome all young republicans to attend the annual Omagh Demil Weekend (3rd-5th Aug), to bid "Slán Abhaile" to the British Army.
The weekend has a packed Clár of various activities, including:
- A Talk on the Drumnakilly Martyrs
- The 2nd Annual Dermott Crowley Memorial Lecture
- History of the British Army Camp in Omagh
- Youth Political Debate
- and much more...
For further info/booking information contact:
or phone Omagh Sinn Féin Office on: 028 82253040
Friday, July 27, 2007
One such region that has recently witnessed the demise of its ‘peace process’ after four decades of renewed hostilities, and the whole scale return of political violence on a huge scale, is Palestine, where the long running Arab – Israeli conflict is creating a nightmare existence for so many people in the Middle East.
Mainstream media reportage often serves to confuse rather than enhance our understanding of the issues behind the Palestinian crisis. People who are genuinely concerned about what is presented as an intractable territorial dispute, find it difficult to decipher the truth behind the headlines. Who are Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, the PLO? Who controls Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip? Why are Palestinians hemmed in, segregated and imprisoned in the ‘Occupied Territories’? Why are they continually subject to Israeli air strikes and military raids in addition to crippling economic sanctions by pro-Israeli western governments?
If you would like to know more about the horrendous suffering of the Palestinian people or if you would like to find out how you can help in the struggle for a just and sustainable peace in the Middle East, come along to the Community and Recreation Centre on the Cathedral Road in Armagh City on Thursday 2nd August at 7.30pm. As part of the West Armagh Community Festival / Féile Ard Mhacha Thiar, representatives from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Committee have been invited to speak on the latest developments in the Occupied Territories. A film illustrating the background to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will also be shown and a light buffet supper will be provided.
Most importantly, speakers will be on hand to take your questions. So get along to the ‘Solidarity with Palestine’ evening in Armagh on Thursday 2nd August. It promises to be a thought provoking and informative evening.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Hundreds of republicans from across Counties Derry & Antrim will gather in Gulladuff this Sunday (29th July) for the annual commemoration in honour of the area's republican dead.
Urging a large attendance of young people at the event, Ógra Shinn Féin national organiser, Barry McColgan said,
" As young republicans we are the continuation of the struggle from the time of Wolfe Tone. We are keeping alive Wolfe Tone's vision for unity between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter on this island - a vision that was taken up in the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic with its core theme of treating all the children of the nature equally oblivious of the differences that have divided us in the past.
"The annual Counties Derry & Antrim republican commemoration is emblematic of a colourful, open and confident republican community coming together to celebrate our growth and unity while remembering the sacrafice of our fallen comrades.
"On Sunday in Gulladuff we will be celebrating the tremendous unity that has been maintained after a year of fairly dramatic change within our movement.
We have a clear direction in terms of where we are going – ready to build, North and South for the All-Ireland government of the future. We’ve a lot to celebrate with a clear mandate to show to the public with the new MLAs elected, the very large number of councillors Sinn Féin have throughout the country, and our TDs."
"There’s been immense progress from the sad days when volunteers suffered so much to a time when we are a confident and ever growing movement for real change. We are confident republicans on the march. But while we celebrate we remember and remembering is very important so that we learn from the past and put that learning into our vision for the future in Ireland. We’ve moved from sometimes dark and troubled times to a very bright day with the ever growing support for the republican struggle for Irish independence, freedom and equality."
Sunday's commemoration will assemble at 6pm at the carpark opposite St. Mary's Church on Mayogall Road before making its way to the Garden of Remembrance which is sited at Ionad Poblachtach Lár Uladh. The colourful parade will include the South Derry Martyrs Flute Band.
Joanne Spain from Dublin, an emerging young leader within the Sinn Féin national leadership will deliver the key address.
Event organiser, Cllr. Peter Bateson said,
"everyone is welcome to attend our republican commemoration and I am particularly looking forward to meeting with the many republican ex-prisoners from across the area who will turn out in large numbers to remember our fallen comrades."
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Ógra Shinn Féin An Lorgain hit the streets of Upper Bann this week, with the new look newsletter Glór na nÓg.
The newsletter, launched some months back, has proved a success for Ógra in the area.
Ógra An Lorgain spokesperson Lee Casey commented,
“Glór na nÓg has proven an effective way of keeping the public aware of the message and activity of Republican Youth in Upper Bann.”
“The newsletter provides a fresh, up to date information sheet, helping Ógra to be active and helping to spread the Republican message.”
Electronic versions of Glór na nÓg are available at email@example.com
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Ógra Shinn Fein national organiser, Barry McColgan has congratulated Pearse Doherty on winning a seat in the Seanad.
Himself a former member of the national leadership of Ógra, Mr Doherty secured 103 votes to top the poll in the Agriculture Panel and be elected to the Seanad.
Speaking on Mr Doherty’s success national organiser McColgan said
“Firstly on behalf of Ógra I congratulate Pearse and those involved in his campaign and who have secured this success. His election will undoubtedly advance the republican agenda for real change.
This once again highlights the importance of the youth of Sinn Féin. Pearse came through the youth structures of Ógra Shinn Fein himself. The sight of young people like Pierce fulfilling important roles is evidence a youthful and vibrant party.
With Pearse now sitting in the Agricultural panel it opens a huge opportunity for all Ireland development with Michelle Gildernew MP as minister for agriculture in the north."
Monday, July 23, 2007
In accordance with its objective to build links with other communities throughout Ireland and further afield, three local community activists from the West Armagh Community Festival recently went on a fact finding tour to County Mayo in the west of Ireland to learn more about the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign.
The trip resulted in an invitation to host a Shell to Sea’ information night as part of the West Armagh Community Festival. Mícháel Ó Seighin, a member of the Rossport Five from Mayo, will join a discussion panel comprising Tommy McKearney, Northern Regional Organiser of the Independent Workers’ Union and Barry McElduff, All Ireland Affairs Spokesperson for Sinn Féin. The aim of the evening is to educate and inform about the tactics currently being employed by Shell and the Irish state to override the wishes of the local population.
‘Shell to Sea’ is an international non violent campaign, rooted in the Erris community, Co. Mayo. The campaign seeks to ensure that the proposed Corrib gas terminal and pipeline are constructed offshore. Five local people, internationally known as the Rossport Five, were jailed in Mountjoy Prison as a result of resisting Shell’s and Statoil’s plans to build their refinery and pipeline, despite the opposition of the people in this part of Mayo. Three fishermen were also arrested recently for their opposition to the multinationals’ plans while a ‘Solidarity Camp’ is continuously present on the beach near Pollathomais along the proposed route of the gas pipeline.
One of the Rossport Five campaigners has just received the acclaimed ‘Goldaman Environmental Award ’. A growing wave of national and international support has grown up around the Mayo people’s campaign of opposition. Despite this, and the daily series of pickets, direct action and confrontations between protestors and the gardaí at the Shell site near Glenamoy, there is little coverage in the southern Irish media in relation to the dramatic events currently ongoing in Mayo. The information night will take place in the Cathedral Road Recreation Centre in Armagh City at 8pm on Friday 3rd August and will include speeches from the Rossport Five, information films and discussion as well as traditional music and a buffet supper. Everyone is welcome.
For more information, visit our website on http://www.feilearmagh.com/ or e.mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Alternatively, you can telephone us on 028/048 37522759 or 028/048 37518338.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Bona tarda jovent dels Paisos Catalans.
Friends and comrades,
It is an honour and a privilege to speak to you today as a representative of Sinn Féin and of Ógra Shinn Féin. Speaking as a member of the Republican Movement is always an honour, but even more so in front of people such as you.
Irish Republicans have had a long struggle against foreign imperialism in our country. From the rebellion of 1798 and Wolfe Tone, striving to unite “Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter”; to the Easter Rebellion of 1916 and onwards to the latest phase of our struggle; Republicans have an unbroken tradition of resistance to British rule in Ireland.
This opposition remains today.
Sinn Féin are now in government in the northern Assembly as the largest nationalist/republican party, and are the third largest party in the whole of Ireland. A feat many thought impossible 20 or even 10 years ago.
In the past we have faced impossible odds, and had to overcome barrier after barrier, in pursuit of what we know is right. It is now that we are beginning to see the results of the courageous struggle we have had in the past.
But this doesn’t mean it is over.
Our struggle is at its most popular now than at any time since the partition of Ireland, over 80 years ago. But our goals are not yet complete, nor should they be taken for granted. And this is where the importance of Ógra and of Irish Republican youth comes to the fore.
We strive to be the generation that builds and lives in a United and Independent Ireland. We continue to campaign on issues of national and social relevance, growing all the time and helping to popularise the Irish Republican struggle. We openly show our solidarity internationally to peoples rightly entitled to their national independence and sovereignty such as Palestine, the Basque Country and Catalan Countries.
And we simply will not stop until we achieve a United, Independent Irish Republic, based on freedom, rights and justice for all. A new Ireland, an Ireland of Equals. We hope Ireland will act as a beacon to other countries and peoples throughout the world; but we continue to take inspiration from the Basque Country, Palestine, Catalan Countries and beyond.
In conclusion friends,
Your struggle like ours cannot be defeated, it cannot be broken, but it is the young people who must ensure the struggle continues. The youth must ensure the dream becomes a reality.
I leave you with an Irish phrase, made famous by Irish Hunger Striker Bobby Sands in a secret diary he kept for the first 17 days of his 66 day Hunger Strike.
“Tiocfaidh Ár Lá!”
Independencia i Socialisme!
La Lluita Continua!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Meath Ogra Shinn Fein hosted a film showing entitled ''Women In Struggle'' which focused on women who fought for Irish Freedom over the last century.
The film show was part of a National Feminism awareness campaign carried out by Ogra Shinn Fein.
The movie show was held in Kells Sinn Fein office and was attended by several members and supporters.
Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA North Belfast gave a talk about her experience as an Ex - Prisoner. This film show is one of a number of informative events to be held by Meath Ogra Shinn Fein.
For more information - www.osf.ie
On Sunday 29th July the Volunteer Tommy 'Todler' Tolan 30th anniversary march and rally will take place in Ballymurphy.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The huge music festival, organised by Jerc (Joventuts d'Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya) is the biggest of it's kind it Catalunya. Jerc are the youth wing of Catalan Republican party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya.
The 12th Annual festival attracted some 38,000 this year, as it continues to grow each year. The message was unmissable, as huge banners and art work covered the grounds of the festival; demanding the freedom and independence of Catalan Countries.
Mr McGibbon said,
"The mix of politics, music and culture is quite incredible. From huge rock concerts, to traditional Catalan music and dance, and of course, political debate."
"The event it self, staffed only by Jerc members (in addition to Red Cross and security staff), showed how a political organisation can mobilise to create a relevant and popular event highlighting the ambition of Catalan independence. Staff also included Jerc councillors and members of the Spanish and Catalan Parliaments."
McGibbon, who participated as an international guest in the main political rally of the festival, commented of Jerc,
"I would like to thank Jerc for their hospitality and compliment them on the leadership they are showing to young Catalan people. The dream of independence for Catalan Countries is very much alive!"
Indepència i Socialisme
La Lluita Continua!
Tarawatch will be holding a national rally in Dublin to call for support for the preservation of the historic Tara site which now faces destruction due to the proposed contruction of the new M3 motorway.
Ógra Shinn Féin call for an independent inquiry into the death of Terence Wheelock on September 16th 2005.
Spokesperson Oisín Ó Dubhláin said this,
"Due to many irregularities in the investigation and evidence put forward in support of the claim that Terrence died attempting suicide, we are shocked and disappointed by the findings of the inquest and support the Wheelock family in their call for an independent inquiry and their search for justice. Police brutality is unacceptable in every case and must be stamped out. Terrence's family and his community must not be made wait any longer for the truth."
"Terence Wheelock was arrested and taken into custody on the 2nd of June 2005 in connection with a stolen car. There is no indication that he had anything to do with the theft. He was held in Store St. Garda Station and expected to be released quickly. Sadly however, Terence left the Garda station in a coma. He did not recover from the serious injuries that he received there and he died in the Mater Hospital on 16th September 2005. There has never been an adequate explanation of what happened to him on that day in Store Street Station. The Gardaí have claimed that Terence's injuries were sustained while attempting suicide. No one who knew him can believe he was suicidal, and the pattern of his injuries indicates that he was beaten while in custody."
"The cell where Terence died was completely refurbished before anyone could examine it. The Gardaí took ten minutes from the time they say they discovered him to call an ambulance. His clothing had bloodstains on it. Photographs taken as he was admitted to hospital show bruises and bloodstains, and his clothes had vomit on them, but the Gardaí made no mention of these facts in their statements, and initially refused to hand over his clothes for forensic examination."
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin has announced plans to host the 6th Annual Demilitarisation weekend in Omagh in August. The weekend will take place on the 3-5 August and is to coincide with the British Army camp in the town being officially closed.
The first demilitarisation weekend in Omagh was held in 2002 and was disrupted by the discovery of a hoax bomb in premises used by Ógra Shinn Féin during the demilitarisation weekend. At the time Ógra members accused members of the British Army, operating out of Omagh British army camp of planting the device.
Included in this years events are ‘A history of the British Army camp in Omagh’ tracing events such as the raid in the `1950s by the IRA and also with particular reference to the campaign for its demilitarisation. The 2nd annual Dermot Crowley memorial lecture will also take place on the issue of ‘From occupation to liberation’, the unveiling of an Ógra Shinn Féin mural and a youth debate on the issue ‘A New Ireland-Your Vision’
Announcing the plans to hold the Demilitarisation event, West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin chairperson Barry McNally said,
“The issue of British demilitarisation has been brought to the fore through events such as this annual demilitarisation weekend. Ógra were responsible for raising this issue and through our annual weekends we have reached the point in which we can see the fruits of our campaign being reaped. While we played our part in the closure of the British Army camp this will also be a victory for the Omagh Residents Demilitarisation Committee, Sinn Féin and of course the local community who have demanded its immediate closure.
“This weekend will serve as a way for Ógra to conclude a successful local campaign. We will be welcoming Ógra activists from across Ireland and also a number of international comrades, who have joined us at previous weekends.
“As we bid Slán abahile to the British Army in Omagh we are reminded that the British presence in Ireland is still here and we will strive to remove the remaining British military presence from Ireland like we have done in Omagh.”
For a video promoting the weekend please click here.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Segi, the Basque youth organisation was banned by the Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón in February 2002. Previously, Garzón had banned the two Basque youth organisations that preceded Segi – Jarrai and Haika. Forty two youth, members of the executive of the groups, were charged with membership of ETA, as Garzón considered that supporting the right to self-determination of the Basque people is not only illegal, but criminal.
The case descended into a farce when another judge of the Audiencia National – the Spanish version of the Special Criminal Court, considered that Garzón’s arguments were not valid and released all detainees, after handling them minimum sentences for membership of illegal organisations. However, 19 of the 23 released were again imprisoned last February, after the court changed the initial sentence. The new decision of the Audiencia National took place only weeks after ETA planted a bomb in the carpark of Madrid airport.
The increasing repression suffered by the Basque pro-independence movement and the immediate imprisonment linked to membership of any of the banned organisations is the backdrop to the decision by two members of Segi who visited Ireland early this month deciding not to disclose their identities. During their Irish visit, An Phoblacht’s SALLY GALLAGHER spoke to the Segi representatives.
What is the reason for this visit to Ireland?
We came to help organise the trip that members of Ógra Shinn Fein are going to make to the Basque Country in September
How is your relationship with Ógra Sinn Fein?
The relationship with Ógra is a few years old already, and we consider it something important as they are an organisation very similar to ours, with common areas of work. This allows us to share points of view and reflections on our political projects. It is also very important for us because they have the experience of the kind of peace process we are working for. Even when in many aspects the situation in Ireland is different, their experience is something we can learn from.
Could you describe the situation faced by the Basque youth movement at the moment?
The situation is that, since January when the Spanish Special Court declared SEGI a terrorist organisation, we have been prosecuted for our activities. Our former leader is serving a six-year jail sentence. We cannot even put up a banner or a poster in the street because we risk being identified by the police, sent to Madrid, being charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and being sent to prison. But even in this environment people keep organising, SEGI keeps working and fighting but we have to take measures, like not publicising our identities, so as not to facilitate the police in throwing us in jail.
What were the arguments used by the Spanish courts to label SEGI as a terrorist organisation?
The truth is that we do not believe there was any judicial basis for it. From our point of view it was a straightforward political decision. SEGI is dangerous for them, as we fight for a political project, we support independence for the Basque Country, and we are socialist, so we fight the Spanish and French capitalist imposition in the Basque Country. What they were trying to achieve was to end our struggle and to take us off the political scene.
But, why at this particular moment? SEGI or the previous youth organisations have been active since the 1980s. So, why now?
I think it was a consequence of the Spanish Popular Party being in government. They took the decision that as part of their strategy of oppression against the Basque Country they would attack the political structures of the Basque pro-independence movement. What they were trying to do was to establish that everything is ETA, so every single political organisation or social movement working for the national and social liberation of the Basque Country were accused of being an integral part of ETA.This allowed for their criminalisation and opened the door to their illegalisation. And within this strategy they have proceeded against numerous political and social organisations. The first to go through the whole procedure has been JARRA/HAIKA/SEGI which are the different youth organisations that have been active in the Basque Country. Labelling us a terrorist organisation is the last step in this process.
Has the fact of being declared a terrorist organisation had any effect in the work of the youth movement?
Not really. I am not going to deny that we are afraid because labelling an organisation as ‘terrorist’ is a major step. But the truth is that there has not been any gap in our work. People keep organising in the colleges, towns, cities. We keep working. We keep fighting in the streets. The fact is that when we were declared illegal for the first time, some five years ago, we had a rough time as we had to accommodate our work to a new reality – our way of working had to be adapted to the new situation. But a lot of time has passed since then and we have improved a lot. So when they declared us a terrorist organisation last February, people did not feel that the situation had changed that much as we were already illegal.
But six years in jail is a long time. Being harassed by the police is one thing but going to jail is something totally different, especially when you are a teenager.
As I said we were already an illegal organisation. We were supposed to be a clandestine organisation. Even if being declared a terrorist organisation is qualitatively different, the truth is that during the period from which we had been declared illegal until last February, we had time to overcome our fears and got ready to face that situation.Yes you can face a six years long or an even longer jail sentence but the truth is that we were facing similar ones before. I think that when people have a clear idea of what they are they fighting for and they hold their principles dear, they are ready to take the risk.
Now that ETA’s ceasefire is over, after 14 months, how does SEGI see the future?
We were hopeful with the situation up to recently, not only because of the ceasefire but also because we could see how the social and political situation was changing in the last few years. There was a majority in the Basque Country looking for a change, and ETA seemed to have taken into account those social and political conditions as it took the decision to use the ceasefire to approach a new scenario where the political conflict could be solved in a political way. But the reality was that for over a year the Socialist Party in the Spanish Government – with the help of the Basque Nationalist Party PNV – resisted taking any step towards the resolution of the conflict. The negotiations have been constantly stalled by these two parties. They did not seem to be ready to approach a solution based on the two main factors that caused the conflict in the first place – territoriality and the right to self-determination.Even if everybody agrees that the conflict has political roots, they were not ready to negotiate a political solution to the conflict. The left pro-independence movement put on the table a political proposal to end the conflict. This proposal was based on those two factors that were the key to the conflict, but the Spanish Government and the PNV said no to the proposals and failed to come up with an alternative.
Batasuna’s political proposal is the key to the solution and we need to publicise the proposal among the people in the Basque Country. Once a majority knows the ins and outs of it, we will have to try to push all the political parties to negotiate, because we know that the solution will come from negotiation. There is no other way. Repression or criminalisation are not solutions.
In this new scenario what is the role of SEGI?
Our aim is to fight for, and build up our independence on a daily basis, while trying to gather as much strength as we can around the pro-independence Basque movement. But at this moment in time we also see it as our responsibility to publicise the content of the political proposal for the solution of the conflict, among youth. Now, during the summer; that will be our main line of work and we will keep working on those issues that we usually do such as housing, students rights, etc.
Activists from Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin showed their commitment to the Shell to Sea campaign by leafleting the crowds in O'Connell Street at lunchtime on Saturday 14 July.
ÓSF groups from the country have been raising the issue of the giveaway of the country's natural resources, the health and safety crisis in Erris, and the appalling treatment of protesters against the Shell/Govt scheme from the jailing of the Rossport Five in 2005 to the latest court case where three innocent fishermen were given prison sentences on the say-so of Gardaí.
ÓSF will continue to support the Shell the Sea campaign, with trips to Mayo planned as well as activities in Dublin and around the country.
As well as keeping activists and supporters updated of daily republican youth news and views, the website will be used to recruit new members, and inform people of upcoming events.
National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan said,
"With increased recruitment and activity in the past year we have launched this new website in order to improve communication. This is an excellent start to the website, but it will of course be added to in the time ahead."
Friday, July 13, 2007
The 26-county general election has come, and gone. It brought some successes, but unfortunately more disappointments. Since the advent of the election much discussion and analysis has taken place within our movement. This analysis has focused mainly on; where we went wrong, where we failed to perform as expected, and where, if at all, we went right. However while this debate has been ongoing, is has done so predominantly, within Sinn Féin. Ógra have yet to make a detailed, mature and comprehensive analysis from our perspective. Hopefully this article will instigate such a discussion.
For the last few weeks efforts have been made to equate our dismal election result either to the squeeze element of what became a presidential-type election, or to round on our own leadership and place the blame for the result solely on their shoulders. It is necessary to be careful in whatever avenue we follow as over-criticising our own comrades may breed unnecessary dissention. While brooding about elements over which we had no control is also a fruitless exercise. What our organisation now needs is to give our analysis of all the elements of the election that affected the final result.
In the weeks leading up to the election it was trumpeted in some quarters as the most important election in the last fifty years if not more. This assertion was made within our party primarily because it was believed that we would do quite well. These myths that circulated our movement prior to May 24 were an integral part of where it went so wrong for us in this election. We built ourselves up, both internally and publicly, to such an extent that anyone would think we were going to be senior partners in the next government. This action was fatal. It isolated us not only from the elusive middle-class vote that we were canvassing in earnest, but also from our own supporters, and our working-class base, who were clearly dismayed with seemingly endless overtures to Fianna Fáil. The most important results of this election are the lessons we learn from it. Never again can we put ourselves on a pedestal as we did in this election.From a youth aspect the holding of the election on a Thursday was indeed a severe blow in a lot of our priority areas. Despite an almost united front from the youth wings of elected parties, Bertie Ahern bull headedly insisted on a Thursday election. This was an obvious blow to our electoral prospects. However it also highlights a failure within our own organisation to utilise the student vote in constituencies with third level institutions. While of course people nowadays only have one vote, voters are legally entitled to register wherever they reside. While the absence of local voters obviously meant narrowly losing out on seats in more rural constituencies, the student vote does not seem to have appeared in the priority Dublin constituencies, nor in other areas like Cork and Waterford. This is certainly a point that must be addressed, and remedied by the next election. The student vote is one of our biggest assets and it must be exploited to its full potential.
In this election we also made the grave and eventually fatal mistake of underestimating the Fianna Fáil electoral machine. Every single one of the constituencies we had openly and publicly earmarked for gains, were areas where our vote paled in comparison to a much increased Fianna Fáil vote. Our over-enthusiasm regarding some seats caused alarm bells to ring in Treasury Buildings, and ultimately proved detrimental to our election result. Just as our election teams in the six counties are a force to be reckoned with, Fianna Fáil, with 75 years of electioneering under their belt cannot be underestimated during election time in this state. In the future we cannot afford to be so outgoing around priority seats and show a little bit more political clout if we ever want to succeed in this state.
Our political behaviour during the election was reprehensible. Not only did our party leadership decide to turn their back on one of our core economic policies, but they also violated their own Ard Fheis motion by making very clear and distinct advances to Fianna Fáil before polling day had even arrived. It is unreasonable to expect that the party leadership go back to the membership for every minute decision that has to be made. However, it is not too much to expect that An Ard Comhairle honour its own commitments, if it is to maintain the confidence of the party membership. While this confidence is still certainly intact, it has suffered, and steps need now to be taken to repair the damage.
The members and supporters who we had on the ground during the election cannot in anyway be faulted for their superb dedication during the election. One point which should now be glaringly obvious to all members in the 26 counties is that we need to increase our membership massively. The only time other political parties can mobilise their supporters is at election time, but when they do it they do so with devastating effect. As a campaigning party we prefer to have our members constantly working for the movement. Our members and elected reps are some of the best for community engagement in the country, but we all get tired. Ógra must be a pivotal part of this phase of re-building. It is our duty to step up to the mark and make ourselves relevant both inside and outside the party. We desperately need to increase our party membership so we can spread the workload, and when the time comes take power North and South, but take power on our terms.
Ógra Shinn Féin has called on the Department of Justice to acknowledge the exceptional circumstances of six-year old Nigerian Great Agbonlohar who is diagnosed with autism by granting him permission to stay in Ireland.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s demonstration in support of Great and his family outside the Department of Justice organized by Residents Against Racism, spokesperson for Ógra, Oisín Ó Dubhláin said:
“The treatment of this most vulnerable child by the state as a burden, an unwanted non-person, is not only despicable but goes completely against the very basis of republicanism and is a massive indictment of the 26 county states complete lack of compassion and empathy for its people.”
“Great has lived on the island of Ireland for more than two thirds of his life. Here he has access to the limited but still somewhat helpful facilities for children with autism. Returning him to Nigeria an impoverished, war torn nation with little or no ability to aid the development of children like Great is an act of cold inhumanity.”
“If the wealth of a society is based on how it treats it’s most vulnerable then we are a very poor society indeed.”
On Wednesday 11th of June three men from Ballina were sentenced to three months imprisonment and fined E500 each for allegedly assaulting a Garda Sergeant during a protest in Bellanaboy against the construction of a dangerous and unwanted pipeline by the Shell corporation.
The Judge claimed the men had charged gardaí, resulting in a Garda Sergeant falling into a ditch breaking one of his thumbs.
Ógra spokesperson Oisín Ó Dubhláin had this to say:
“It is well known to anyone involved in the campaign to end the theft of Ireland’s natural resources in Bellanaboy, that gardaí are consistently excessive in their use of force in the defence of the Shell corporations interests. They are known to throw protestors into ditches as they march peacefully down the road to the site, many being injured."
Ógra call on all republicans and otherwise to support these men and their families and call for their release.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Conas atá sé go bhfuil teanga na mBascach chomh láidir i bhur dtír? Cén céimeanna a thóg sibh é seo a chur i gcrích?
I rith ré Franco cuireadh an cultúr Bascach síos go huafásach. Faoi rial na faisitigh ní raibh cead an teanga ach go háirithe a labhairt ná a mhúineadh. Bhí an bac ar an teanga ag an bpointe is láidre tar éis cogadh cathartha na Spáinne bhí an cleachtais seo thar a bheith dian ar fad. Theastaigh ó Franco agus na Faisistigh cultúr na mBascach araon leis an teanga a scriosadh go hiomlán. Is i ndiadh teacht chun cinn an córas 'daonlathach' a thosaigh cúrsaí ag dul i bhfeabhas arís. Bhí iarracht bailithe i dTír na mBascach an teanga ach go háirithe a cur i mbéal an phobail athuair.
Thuig gluaieacht neamhspleachas de chuid na heite clé go raibh gá an cultúr a mhúscailt ins na daoine más rud é go rabhamar chun éileamh réadúil a dhéanamh d'ár saoirse. Bunaíodh fronta cultúrtha le baill ETA ann don cuid is mó a chabhrigh ins an pobail tús a cur le scoileanna chun an teanga a mhúineadh. An rud is tábhachtaí ná gur iarracht ón bpobal mór a bhí anseo, thuig gach duine go raibh an teanga mar croílár na streachailte againn. Chabhraigh an eite armtha insan eagraíocht ach smaoineamh an phobail a bhí ann.
Tá ceantar ann fós inniu ina labhraítear teanga na mBascach amháin. Bhí na háiteanna seo i bponc ollmhór dá dtiocfadh na faisitigh orthu i rith an ama sin ach anois tá sé mar páirt mór in athbheochan na teanga.
Tá feachtas mór anseo in Éirinn faoi láthair aitheantas dleathach a fháil don teanga ins na sé contae. Cé chomh tábhachtach is atá an saghas reachtaíocht sin agaibhse?
Tá an ceist sin thar a bheith tábhachtach dúinne. Deirtear sa reachtaíoch go bhfuil teanga na mBascach agus Spáinnis ar aon leibhéal amháin ach i ndáirire ní fíor sin. Ní féidir dul i dtengmháil leis an stáit ach amháin trí Spáinnis. Níl an suim acu siúd atá i gceannas seirbhís trí mheán ár dteanga féin a cur ar fáil dúinne. Teastaíonn uathu fós inniu sinn a coimeád faoi chois agus déanann siad seo trí ár gceart, gnó a dhéanamh inár dteanga féin, a sárú. Tá reachtaíocht againn a thugann cead dúinn teangmháil leis na daoine sa feidhmiúcháin i dTeanga na mBascach ach ní aithníonn siad sin. Tá gá go bhfuil tuilleadh reachtaíocht a thugann cearta do lucht labhartha teanga na mBascach. Cuirfidh seo ina luí don phobail athuair, gur tenaga atá ann ar féidir a úsáid go laethúil agus tá sin fíor thábhachtach
Cén feachtaisí lena bhfuil sibh bainte faoi láthair tionchar an teanga a ardú?
Feictear dúinn go bhfuil go bhfuil sé thar a bheith tábhachtach gan a bheith chomh caolaigeanta fúthu a spreagaimid chun an teanga a foghlaim. Tá gá ins an tréimhse atá le teacht go mbímid ag féachaint orthusan atá ag teacht isteach inár dtír, agus an teanga a mhúineadh leo. Faoi láthair nuair a thagann duine éigin isteach sa tír gan ach a theanga dúchais acu, téann siad agus Spáinnis a foghlaim. Táimidne ag iarraidh go diocfaidh athrú ar sin. Teastaíonn uainn, nuair a thagann daoine isteach inár dtír go bhfoghlaimeoidh siad ár dteanga féin. Beidh tairbhe mór le bhaint as seo ar an ábhar go gcuirfidh sé brú ar lucht an fheidhmiúcháin, agus ar na Bascaigh féin an teanga a labhairt.
Níl dúil ar bith ag lucht an rialtais i gcearta labhartha na Bascaigh. Feiceann siad gur ceantar streachailte dúinn í an teanga. Más féidir linn an cath seo a bhuacaint, beidh cath fíor-thábhachtach buaite ag gluaiseacht nemahspleachas na heite clé.
Last weekend the second annual Kilkenny Youth Weekend took place in Kilkenny City. The in weekend saw Ógra activists from all over the country descend on the South-East. The weekend saw a mixture of political discussion and healthy debate as activists were treated to a wide-ranging Clár of events throughout the weekend. The aim of the weekend was two-fold. Firstly, to galvanise support for Ógra in the area. The secondly was to bring Ógra activists from all over the country and provide them with a forum for debate and discussion. It was clear as activists returned home on Sunday afternoon that both aims were an overwhelming success.
The weekend began on Friday as Ógra members began to arrive in the city. At half past seven that evening General Election candidate in Carlow / Kilkenny, Kathleen Funchion shared her thoughts on the election with the group. The talk began with a quick summary of the campaign followed by a questions and answers session. A lively debate ensued in which all activists took an active part. The debate eventually concluded and gave way to the next part of the clár, a function in south Kilkenny. The function was a great success. Ógra activists took the wise decision to return to their lodgings early as the clár for their following day was indeed a hectic one.
The clár continued on Saturday beginning with a talk from UL Professor Ruán O'Donnell. The subject of the talk centred on the Border Campaign around which Ruán is currently writing a book. Ruán's talk was exceptionally comprehensive and wide-ranging. Having interviewed several people who were involved with the campaign Ruán was more than capable of keeping the interest of the crowd. Following Ruán's talk Páraic Ó Conaire from Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge addressed the crowd. Páraic spoke about the Official Languages Act 2003, advising the group how best to use the act to their benefit when dealing with state bodies. The talk was a great success and succeeded in awakening those present to the possibilities to use the Irish language in their dealings with the 26-county state.
The next item of business on the clár was the Ógra march through Kilkenny City. It was a massive success in 2006 and there was great hope that it would be the same this year. As a result the march was to be the centre-piece of the entire weekend. The theme of the previous year was the Hunger Strike where the crowd was addressed by MLA Paul Butler. That march was the first to be held in the city in more than 20 years. Since Ógra organised the march last year three republican marches have taken place in the city making republicanism ever more relevant in the area.
This year the theme of the march was the 140th anniversary of the 1867 rebellion, in which Kilkenny man James Stephens played a major part. There was an increased turnout for this year's march. Alongside those attending the weekend were several Sinn Féin members from across the South-East. The march followed the same route as the previous year again marching to the tunes of the Ed O'Brien Flute Band who again put on an excellent show. Local people lined the streets to see the march passing by. The march assembled outside Kilkenny Castle where Ógra organiser for the area addressed the crowd before calling on the band to play Amhrán na bhFiann and return to the train station afterwards.
After a short break those on the weekend came together again for a talk with comrades from the Basque country who were attending the weekend. They spoke to the activists about the continued incarceration of the SEGI national executive. The political process in the Basque country was also a topic for discussion. The debate lasted for just under an hour in which our comrades Amaia and Uriz answered several questions and engaged in a multi-faceted, informative debate. The Ógra activists were clearly interested in the ongoing situation in the Basque country as the discussion continued long after the end of the day's clár. After the hectic day the group went out in Kilkenny to relax and, inevitably, continue the day's debate.
The events of the final day were slightly easier on the Ógra grouping. The final day saw the Ógra National sponsored walk take place in the city. The walk took place around the periphery of Kilkenny Castle. The scenic route around the castle gave activists a refreshing break from the intense debate of the weekend. Shortly after the end of the walk activists began to make their way home with plenty of food for thought after the weekend on the way home.
Ógra Shinn Féin in Kilkenny were extremely pleased with the second weekend in the city and hope that we can build on it yet again next year and see it grow even further. The weekend combined discussion, debate and education and gave members both new and not so much so a chance to interact in the true spirit of republicanism. It's clear from the calibre of activists present at the weekend that the struggle is in safe hands. ÓSF in Kilkenny will continue onwards and upwards on the road to the achievement of a free democratic socialist republic.
For video of March click here.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Ógra Shinn Féin was part of a large crowd attending the Joe McDonnell commemoration in Belfast on Sunday 8th July, which made its way from Lenadoon to the Roddy McCorley center.
We also marched to remember Fian John Dempsey who was murdered that same day 26 years ago.
Joe Mc Donnell died on hunger strike in 1981 seeking 5 basic demands, and to end the British policy of criminalisation of the Irish freedom struggle. Joe died with nine other comrades in this fight.
The main speaker was Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey who stressed the importance of being aware of the Sinn Féin strategy, were we have come from, and praised the support the party has, signalling an endorsement of the the strides taken forward.
Julie Livingston's sister spoke on the fight against plastic bullets, and John Finucane also spoke on uncovering the truth and challenging the British Government's policy of state sponsored murder through Collusion.
Damian White of Ógra Shinn Féin said,
"It was impressive, the amount of people who turned out to remember Joe McDonnell 26 years following his death."
"26 years on from his death, the British have never quit in their pursuit to crimalise the Irish freedom struggle. But just as they failed in 1981, they fail today, because of the steadfast belief of the Hunger Strikers, and we as republicans must use the brave and selfless example shown by the ten brave men in every aspect of our struggle today."
Derry Republican youth group Tóirsire held a protest at the weekend on the main arterial route between Derry and Donegal to highlight the ongoing issue of the Derry City name change row .A recent court decision ruled the name of the city did not change when the council name changed in 1984 which left many disappointed. Tóirsire will now renew its efforts to put this issue back on the political agenda which will hopefully bring this saga to a conclusion.
The official name of the city has over the years been a contentious issue. The vast majority of its citizens use the preferred name of Derry. This politicisation of the name has led to a plethora of other names being used including the Maiden City, the Walled City and even Stroke City. This has caused confusion in terms of marketing the city as a viable brand in terms of tourism or attracting inward investment.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Since Britain first interfered with Irish affairs, her imperialist policies of divide and conquer, exploitation and domination have been a cancer on the Irish people. With that said it is also worth noting that a sizeable, capitalist section of the Irish people have and continue to benefit from such rotten policies.
The rich and powerful elite (e.g. Bertie and co.) in Ireland today are a perfect example of those to whom, Irish Unity is perceived a threat. Our vision of a 32 county Socialist Democratic Republic based on equality, is totally contrary to the self interests of those capitalist elements in the south. These ‘gombeen’ men of Irish politics don’t want a ‘Shinner’ about the place, as the implementation of our policies of social equality would mean an end to the corruption and elitism that successive governments have enjoyed.
As Gerry Adams rightly pointed out at Bodenstown, our focus of building support for Republican objectives has clearly shifted to the south. Our recent performance in the 26 county elections must serve as a wake up call for all activists, and we must learn from our strengths and weaknesses. For Sinn Féin, preparations for the 26 county council elections have begun days after the general election. As ever we Republicans will be up against it. We are up against certain elements in Ireland whom Britain have identified long ago as being willing to support and accept the partition of this country, so long as it satisfies their selfish capitalist interests. This has been a favourable tactic in the arsenal of British imperialism throughout history. We will (as Republicans tend to do) be in the firing line for attacks from all angles and I believe we are up for the fight.
Sinn Féin’s vote actually increased in the last election, so it’s clear that the winds of change are blowing our way, although not enough. In my opinion, Fianna Fail’s presentation of the myth that the economy is safer in their hands, won in the end, but in time as the public watch and scrutinise our performance in the north and witness even more corruption in the ranks of Fianna Fail, we will prove that we are a party more than capable of being in government. Recent obvious attempts to marginalise and dismiss Sinn Féin’s mandate is further indication of the intention of the ‘gombeen’ men in this administration to pathetically keep us out of government.
I’ve always said it, if we provoke such gutter politics from the likes of Fianna Fail, then we must be doing something right. We need to do what Republicans do best, campaigning actively on the ground on equality and human rights issues, and radically promoting our socialist ideals and making them relevant to the betterment of people’s everyday lives.
In terms of Ógra, we have a huge role to play. Imperialism has failed the Irish people in the form of partition, particularly in border regions, Ogra must relate to the youth in these areas and actively tackle issues affecting young people. We must be constantly active in promoting Republican, Socialist alternatives to the failed status quo.
We also need to challenge this capitalist ‘West Brit’ mentality at every turn, for example, it is President Mary McEleese’s life ambition to walk the streets of Dublin with the English queen, What utter nonsense. I’ve no problems with international relations, but while Britain still occupies part of this country, views such as this need to be publicly questioned by Republicans.
I believe that with the campaigning edge of Ógra Shinn Féin we can contribute immensely to the growth of Irish Republicanism in the south. Sinn Fein’s Republican Ideals and policies are still young in the south and have yet to flourish, but with renewed efforts to build the party there, our goals are achievable.
It will be a battle a day for the hearts and minds of the Irish people!
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Ógra Shinn Féin National Organiser, Barry McColgan has said An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern comments regarding suicide are unacceptable and disgraceful.
Mr McColgan said,
“The comments made by Bertie Ahern are grossly negligent, and totally unacceptable. It also highlights the attitude of the Dublin government towards suicide. It is one of the highest killers of Irish youth. Indeed we in Ógra have been running with a campaign aimed at securing an all Ireland approach to the issue of suicide prevention. Instead of making light of the issue of suicide we would urge Bertie and his government to do more to prevent suicide.
"Suicide is the biggest killer of our young people, it is a National crisis which every party across Ireland, should be united in tackling. Suicide Prevention urgently demands added resources and funding. Interventions by Bertie of this kind are unwelcome, unacceptable and disgraceful.
"In our youth election manifesto we also proposed that there be increased provision of mental health facilities for young people, that the Mental Health Act 2001 be fully implemented and that the recommendations of the Government's Mental Health Expert as set out in their report A Vision For Change (2006) also be implemented. This could at least be a start for Bertie and his government to tackle this issue head on"
Ógra Shinn Fein in west Tyrone concluded their ARISE (Anti, Racism, Imperialism, Sectarianism and Exploitation) campaign in Omagh town centre on Saturday. (30th June) The issue which brought the conclusion to the ARISE campaign was feminism and gender equality. Ógra activists held posters of famous Irish republican women such as Mairead Farrell, Maire Drumm and Countess Markievicz.
The protestors were joined by Omagh Tyrone Sinn Fein councillor, Marty McColgan. Well over 500 leaflets were handed out and were met with a good response by passers by and shoppers alike.
The protest fed into a national day of action by Ógra Shinn Fein which signalled an end to the ARISE campaign. The sight in Omagh was similar to various held nationwide. Similarly leaflet drops and public talks were also held.
Speaking at the conclusion of the ARISE campaign, Ógra Shinn Fein representative from Omagh, Tracey Pearson said,
“The issue of gender equality is a relevant issue today. Many would be of the option that it is a thing of the past. However, whilst in numerous western countries women are asserting their rights in many developing countries the women’s place is still firmly entrenched in the family home. This is wrong and unjust."
"However closer to home we can still see the oppression of women. We in Ógra Shinn Féin have trying to address this oppression. Throughout this campaign we have produced a short video looking at the role of women in the republican struggle, we have also held public talks and in doing so trying to change the stereotypical view of women being placed in the household environment. The Ireland that we want to see is one which ‘cherishes all the children of the nation equally’ which was set out in the proclamation. An Ireland of equals regardless of colour, creed, gender or religion."
The day saw a great response from the public with hundreds of leaflets distributed about the town as well as a huge amount of interest in the cumann itself.
Ógra Shinn Féin Droichead Átha has been active on many levels over the past few months in campaigns such as ‘Shell to sea’, solidarity with the people of Palestine and ‘Irish history-not for sale’-the campaign which opposed the auction of priceless pieces of Irish history. As well as this the cumann has been holding regular meetings and selling ‘an phoblacht’ every week in the town- something which has not been done in Drogheda for some time.
Last Saturday was extremely successful in raising public awareness on the issue of gender inequality in today’s society.
Spokesperson for Ógra Áine Ní Dhubháin said:
“It was an enlightening day as quite a number of people were totally unaware of the level of gender inequality that still exists even in today’s modern society. One person I spoke to was shocked to learn that women’s earnings in the work-place are just 89% of men’s."
"Gender inequality is the oldest form of discrimination. It is of the utmost importance that we, as young republicans keep the issue of gender inequality to the forefront of the equality agenda.”
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The Vol. Joe McDonnell commemoration, will take place this Sunday 8th July in Belfast. People are asked to assemble at 5.30pm at the bottom of Lenadoon Avenue.
All Ógra activists who aren't attending the Kilkenny Ógra Weekend are asked to attend the commemoration.