Thursday, January 31, 2008

Unite to Compete!

Barry McColgan
National Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

Ireland should have one united soccer team.

BBC Spotlight (Tues 29 Feb) has hopefully re-ignited this important sporting issue. I hope common sense prevails and football fans across Ireland realise that the best way forward for international soccer in Ireland is to have one national team.

This has been a long running debate, one which many footballing greats have opined on, including George Best who supported the creation of an All Ireland team.

Other sports have shown maturity and rationale, and created truly national teams, including Rugby, Cricket, and International Rules.

Ireland is a small nation, and in order to truly compete in an international arena, they must utilise a full pool of talented players.

A coming together of the 2 current partitioned teams will ensure a more competitive team and undoubtedly silverware for Irish soccer and more joy for the fans.

The programme also touched on the possibility of an All Ireland soccer league, with the general point being made that the majority of teams North and South would actually support this idea.

An All Ireland Soccer team is something which Ógra Shinn Féin has continually called for since its formation.

In the spirit of national reconciliation and the need for Irish soccer to compete on an International stage, we would urge everyone across Ireland to support the call for a 32 County National Team.

20 Reasons to Reject the Lisbon Treaty!

By Eoin Ó Broin

IN THE coming months, the 26 Counties will hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty is the most significant revision of the structures, procedures and policies of the EU since its foundation. It is vital that republicans understand the treaty and are able to debate the issues involved.

Recent Eurobarometer and Irish Times/MRBI polls indicate that Irish attitudes to the EU are changing. People are becoming more critical of the direction of the European Union. A majority of the 26-County electorate has yet to make up their minds on the treaty.

In the coming campaign every activist has a role to play in convincing friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours of the reasons why this treaty is bad for Ireland and the EU.

Here’s 20 reasons to reject the treaty.

1 The Lisbon Treaty agreed by EU leaders in November 2007 is almost identical to the EU Constitution agreed by EU leaders in 2004.

The Constitution was democratically rejected by the electorates of France and the Netherlands in referenda in the summer of 2005. They objected to the undemocratic and right-wing content of the Constitution. That EU leaders have returned with the same text in a different format is undemocratic and is an insult to the democratically-expressed wishes of the peoples of France and the Netherlands.

2 Article 46 of the Lisbon Treaty states: “The Union shall have a legal personality.” This is a major change to the legal basis of the EU because it transforms it from an arena of co-operation between democratically-elected nation states to a legal entity in its own right.

‘Legal personality’ would enable the EU to operate in the international area like a state, which it currently does not have the power to do. It could have its own diplomatic corps, negotiate and sign international trade agreements, incorporate existing international treaties into its own law and seek a seat at the United Nations.

3 Under Article 9 of the Lisbon Treaty the European Council changes from an inter-governmental body to a European Union institution.

Rather than act in the interests of the nation states who elect them, this change would mean that the Council would “aim to promote its [the Union’s] values, advance its objectives, its interests”. These values, objectives and interests are not determined by any election but by existing and future EU law.

4 Article 9 of the Lisbon Treaty removes member states’ automatic right to an EU Commissioner. It also reaffirms the “independence” of the Commission: “The Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government or other institution, body, office or entity.”

As the Commission is responsible for drafting EU legislation and has what is known as the “power of initiative”, such “independence” simply means a complete absence of accountability from any elected body, whether at a national or at an EU level.

5 Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty gives the EU powers to amend its own treaties, without recourse to an inter-governmental conference, a new treaty or the guarantee of a referendum.

Until now, revisions of EU treaties required these three stages, ensuring that national governments and, in the case of Ireland, national populations are involved in the decision-making process. Article 48 dispenses with this and allows the European Council to make amendments by unanimityThis means that, in the future, significant changes could be made to the structure, procedures or competencies of the EU without any guarantee of a referendum.

6 The Lisbon Treaty contains a further eight articles which enable the European Council to extend specific powers in specified policy areas, including moving Common Foreign and Security Policy from unanimity to qualified majority voting, harmonisation of criminal law, and extending the powers of the European Public Prosecutor.

7 In total, the Lisbon Treaty gives the EU 105 new powers across a wide range of policy areas including foreign, security, defence, trade, justice and economic policy.

No argument has been made to support this transfer or why these areas should be dealt with at an EU rather than national level. It is the single largest transfer of powers in the history of the European Union.

8 Of these 105 powers, 68 areas which are currently competencies of the EU will move from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV) at the European Council.
This will increase the degree of majoritarianism at Council and reduce consensus decision-making.

9 The Lisbon Treaty alters the way decisions are taken at the European Council. The already complex qualified majority voting procedure will be changed. The result is that Ireland’s weighted voting strength will be reduced by more than 50 per cent.
At the same time, the threshold determining a qualified majority will be significantly reduced. Taken together, these changes will reduce the power of smaller states and increasingly replace consensus decision-making at Council with majoritarianism.

10 In addition to these significant procedural changes, the new treaty also contains significant policy changes delivered in a deliberately opaque manner (lists of complicated amendments to two existing treaties), meaning that there will be insufficient public scrutiny or debate as to the implications of such changes.

Transparency and clarity are vital if people are to fully understand the treaty. Without such understanding, how can people make informed decisions about such profound changes to the way in which our lives are governed?

11 The Lisbon Treaty further consolidates the right-ward direction of economic policy while simultaneously undermining public services and workers’ rights.

The European Union and the Lisbon Treaty do not talk about public services. Rather they divide services into two categories: (1) Services of General Economic Interest, and (2) Services of General Interest. While there is no definition of Services of General Interest, current EU case law defines economic activity as the offering of any goods or services on the market. By this definition, all current public services would fit into the Services of General Economic Interest rather than Services of General Interest. Article 16 of the Lisbon Treaty places new “economic and financial conditions” on the provision of Services of General Economic Interest (these are detailed in Articles 86 and 87 of the existing treaty). These conditions mean that services – including health care and education services for example – would be subject to the rules of competition.

Protocol 6 of the Lisbon Treaty mandates the EU to ensure that “competition is not distorted”. This provides the EU with a mandate to remove “distortions” from the provision of services. Such “distortions” could include state aid, public funding, protective markets, health, environmental and workers’ rights regulations and state “monopolies”. Combined, this complex procedure allows for the complete undermining of the welfare state and the Social European Model. In its place it promotes deregulation and privatisation.

Social democratic defenders of the Lisbon Treaty point to its Protocol 9, arguing that this excludes public services from such rules. However, as there is no definition of Services of General Interest in this protocol or anywhere else in the treaty this is clearly not the case.

12 Article 2/2 introduces “price stability” as an aim of the European Union for the first time. While no one could object to measures to curb inflation, if the inclusion of price stability is used as a tool to limit member states’ public spending, or to restrict member states’ budget deficits, then clearly it could have a negative economic role.

Equally, if price stability were to conflict with other aims such as full employment or social progress, it would be the European Court of Justice who would determine which aim has precedence rather than democratically-elected member state governments. While it is unclear, at this stage, the inclusion of price stability could have the impact of forcing member states to reduce public spending, further undermining the provision of public services and other policy tools aimed at combating poverty and inequality.

13 Articles 10 to 28 of the Lisbon Treaty advance EU control over foreign, security and defence policy, increasing the militarisation of the EU and further eroding Irish neutrality.

Article 11 mandates: “The Union’s competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union’s security.” Article 27 mandates for the “progressive framing of a common Union defence policy [that] will lead to a common defence” (Article 28b). While decisions on matters of foreign, security or defence policy will be taken by unanimity, Article 17 specifically allows the European Council to act by qualified majority voting in foreign and security policy. Like the internal market before it, this is the beginning of the transfer of control of foreign, security and defence policy to the EU.

14 Article 28c mandates: “Member states shall undertake to improve their military capabilities.” Taken with the “start-up fund” and “specific procedures for guaranteeing rapid access to appropriations... for urgent financing of [unspecified] initiatives in the framework of the common foreign and security policy” (detailed in Article 28d), member states will be obliged to increase their financial contributions to the military capabilities of the EU.

15 Article 28/7 reaffirms that “commitments and co-operation” in the area of common security and defence “shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation”. This effective alignment to NATO is not balanced with any commitment to protect the neutrality of member states such as Ireland.

16 The Lisbon Treaty also fails to significantly address the issue of climate change, despite arguments from the Irish Government.

The Government secured the inclusion of the six words at the end of the existing provision “promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change”. This addition is purely symbolic, without substance and, considering the global urgency of tackling this issue, does nothing to advance the EU’s commitment to seriously tackle the issue. It does not empower the EU to do anything it could not currently do under existing treaty provisions.

17 Article 2a gives the EU exclusive competence over commercial policy, including the negotiating of international trade agreements. Article 10a mandates the “progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade” to be one of the EU’s guiding principles in its interaction with non-EU member states.

At present, the EU is seeking to force developing world countries to abolish what are known as “beyond borders controls” such as tendering restrictions and environmental or workers’ rights regulations, irrespective of the consequences of removing such controls. Taken together, these two elements signal a significant backward step in the EU’s approach to tackling global poverty and inequality.

18 Protocol 12 of the Lisbon Treaty, dealing with the European Atomic Energy Commission, states that the treaty “should continue to have full effect”. One of the primary goals of this treaty (knows as EURATOM) is the promotion of nuclear energy. Irish people reject nuclear energy. The Lisbon Treaty, like its predecessors, mandates the EU to promote nuclear energy.

19 Defenders of the Lisbon Treaty argue that it will make the EU more efficient and democratic. They argue that it gives more power to national parliaments and citizens and greater human rights protections. They say that a post-enlargement EU cannot function under its present system. All of these arguments are untrue.

The provisions dealing with national parliaments and citizens are cosmetic and are completely diluted by the massive transfer of power to the EU level detailed above. The Charter of Fundamental Rights adds no new human rights protections and its application is heavily circumscribed by national and EU law. The EU has continued to function without crisis or collapse since enlargement. These arguments are being used to distract attention from the 19 points listed above.

20 Defenders of the treaty also argue that rejecting the Lisbon Treaty will see Ireland isolated and marginalised within the EU. This is an attempt to bully the Irish electorate into accepting the treaty despite its dangers. In 2005, the people of France and the Netherlands rejected the same text. These countries were not isolated or marginalised; nor would Ireland be if we voted no.

There is no doubt that the EU needs radical reform. Sinn Féin has a clear agenda for change. We want an EU that:-

• Deepens meaningful democracy and meets the highest standards of accountability;
• Protects and promotes human, civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights;
• Assists member states in building prosperity and equality;
• Combats poverty, inequality, discrimination and social injustice;
• Pursues environmentally-responsible and sustainable policies;
• Promotes conflict resolution, peace building and global stability;
• Protects Irish neutrality and opposes militarisation and the arms trade;
• Assists the developing world overcome global poverty, inequality and disease.

The Lisbon Treaty does none of these things.

Another Europe is possible — but only if we say no to the Lisbon Treaty!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ógra Shinn Féin urges everyone to support ‘A President For All’ Campaign

Barry McColgan, National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin has welcomed a call today by SDLP Youth for All Ireland Presidential Elections and urged other youth wings to join the campaign.

He said,

“In January 2004, Ógra Shinn Féin launched a campaign titled ‘A President For All’, which sought that Irish citizens in the 6 counties could vote in the Irish Presidential election.”

“The campaign to date has seen protests and rallies across Ireland, thousands of leaflets being distributed, motions in support of the campaign where passed in numerous council chambers across Ireland and an online petition received thousands of signatures.”

“It has been 10 years since the people of Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement, and 10 long years since the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that he would look at how people in the North could participate in National political life. Yet 10 years on the Dublin government has done nothing to bring this about.”

“It is good to see the SDLP Youth take this on as an issue. Broad based support for this campaign will assist further in its success, and I therefore would ask that other youth wings across Ireland support this important call for ‘A President For All’.”

Engaging Irish Youth

Community Activist
Ógra Shinn Féin

It is a common story these days for young people across Ireland being heard to say, ‘Nothing to do’, ‘No where to go’, and ‘No one cares about us.’

With such a common displaced, detached and negative attitude, it is no surprise that anti social behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, and unemployment remains a problem amongst our young people.

We all witness problems in our own areas, we all know the spots where young people go to drink, yet we struggle to identify the proper youth facilities.

On issues like anti social behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, while undoubtedly these things present a problem and need addressed, people, especially republicans, can sometimes exaggerate the problem.

Although these issues present a problem in modern Irish society, we need to put things in perspective and realise that a solution is very manageable if approached in the proper manner.

We also need to move away from the mindset of labelling any young person as a ‘hood’, we where all young once and youth need engagement, confidence building and education, not further isolation by whisper campaigns, community alienation and intimidation.

Empowered communities, and schemes like community restorative justice and community watch should now be used in effectively engaging with youth involved in anti social behaviour.

There is a lack of vision on youth facilities across Ireland, while there are facilities such as leisure centres, football fields, and snooker halls, there is a lack of youth orientated schemes for late nights and on weekends. There are no youth coffee bars, where only non-alcoholic drinks are on offer, there is very few late night youth clubs and many are only initiated and funded in response to a problem.

And government action on the needs of youth is abysmal to say the least, with a chronic lack of funding with many densely populated areas across Ireland having only 1 full time youth worker. While there is a small network of voluntary and part time people assisting in the youth sector, the lack of funding and resourcing creates huge problems and an inability to develop or implement proper youth projects, and facilities.

Government action on the issue of youth, usually results in huge funding of fire fighting the problems created, by their complete lack of funding of long term preventative measures.

If we are to get to the core of why young people are so detached from their community, why they misuse alcohol and drugs, then we need to engage with them and ask them.

We need to talk to Irish youth as peers, through local engagement and find out what local youth need.

On a needs basis, perhaps we can begin to address some of the youth isolation and begin to empower a generation of youth. Encouraging them to participate, to have a say in their communities.

What do young people need in education, health, housing, social life, sports and employment? Let’s begin to engage Irish youth, to answer these questions, and push forward demands that will benefit future generations of young people.

Let’s begin to, ‘Cherish the children of the Nation Equally!”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Honour of Na Fianna Martyrs

Derry Ógra Shinn Féin are officially to be reconstituted as Derry Na Fianna Martyrs Ógra Shinn Féin. The officially name change will take place during the Bloody Sunday weekend.

At the Ógra Shinn Féin congress in 2006 Ógra delegates passed a motion allowing groups to name their cumann after republican martyrs. Thus far numerous cumainn have adapted to the change. Derry Ógra Shinn Féin will follow suit next Saturday

In addition to this Derry Ógra Shinn Féin have organised a number of number events to coincide with the Bloody Sunday weekend, most notably a major youth for truth conference in Pilots row. John Kelly of the Bloody Sunday families and Amanda Fullerton, daughter of Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton and member of the Eddie Fullerton Justice Campaign will address the conference.

Ógra Shinn Fein in Derry has been going from strength to strength following their decision to become an Ógra cumann. Previously known as toirsire republican youth they have been reconstituted as Derry Ógra Shinn Féin since November.

.Speaking on the name change Chairperson of Derry Ógra Shinn Féin, Niall Doran said

“When the idea of naming our Ógra group there was a healthy discussion as to what to call ourselves. Suggestions we raised about calling ourselves Gerard Donaghy Ógra Shinn Fein. Various other Na Fianna martyrs names were raised, so in the end we decided to call ourselves Derry Na Fianna Martyrs Ógra Shinn Féin.

“Our launch as Na Fianna martyrs Ógra Shinn Féin will be another milestone in what has been a turbulent few months from becoming Derry Ógra Shinn Féin. We have attended our first Ógra Shinn Féin congress in that time and are rejuvenated and reenergised to take forward Ógras new N.A.R.C. (Not another ravaged community) Campaign, aimed at tackling the scourge of Alcohol and drugs on our communities.

“We hope that through our campaigning and agitation we can bring the cause of Irish freedom that bit closer. This is the only true way in which we can honour those names on the Na Fianna Roll Of Honour and indeed those on the wider republican Roll of Honour.

An Phoblacht Abu!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Safe Sex is Hot Sex!

Community Activist
Ógra Shinn Féin

......................................... Shocked by the title? Im just going by the poster below.

In the lead up to and during carnival season in Brazil, the Brazilian Government have launched plans to distribute 20 million free condoms in efforts to prevent further HIV and STD infections. The slogan of the safe sex campaign is,

“With condoms, the good feeling goes on after the party is over.”

The country has a high number of people with HIV, with almost ½ million infected. This modern and progressive initiative in Brazil is the start of a major distribution of free contraceptive, with the government planning to hand out over 1 billion free condoms throughout 2008.

The scheme has been piloting for a number of years and has had a level of success with the annual number of new AIDS cases falling.

The Brazilian Government have been to the fore in promoting safe sex and combating the spread of AIDS, pioneering the first state run condom factory in the world, and this year they plan to install condom machines in public schools, a program which has received much support from parents, students and teachers.

Ireland in their approach to safe sex could learn a lot from the example set by Brazil.

Ógra Shinn Féin at their recent National Congress passed a very good motion calling for VAT free condoms. I welcome this initiative and look forward to seeing Ógra lobbying and campaigning for this measure to be implemented. But looking to the example set by Brazil, Ógra should also push for the Assembly and Leinster House to undertake a major All Ireland safe sex campaign, including the huge distribution of free condoms, especially at the summer festivals which attract thousands and thousands of young people.

At the core of a lot of this is sex education, and the whole approach to this crucial issue must be looked at.

Is current sex education engaging and relevant to modern Irish Youth? Ógra as young people must answer these questions and lead the campaign!

Wear an Easter Lily with Pride!

Armagh Ógra Shinn Féin was pleased to see a motion passed on the Easter Lily at the recently held Ógra National Congress. The motion reads,

"That this congress accepts that the easter lily be made available by Ógra members to Ulster Bus and Translink workers, and BBC and UTV workers, and to implement a campaign to bring equality to the 6 counties."

The Easter Lily is worn by Republicans every year at Easter time, it was designed in 1925 by Cumann na mBan to honour the sacrifice made by the men and women of the 1916 Rising and the Tan War. The symbol is associated with the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, the design being taken from the seasonal decoration in churches during that period.

The Easter Lily is our emblem to remember those who give their lives in the battle for freedom of small nations, of which Ireland is one. The Easter Lily is currently uncategorised by the equality commission.

Damian White of Armagh Ógra Shinn Féin said,

“I’m glad to see such pride in the Easter Lily being shown, and I have noticed over the last number of years the amount of people wearing the Lily is increasing. I hope this will continue right up until the centenary year of 2016 when true republicans who have stood by the proclamation will gather to honour the sacrifice made, that Easter time 1916. Republicans in all ways of life should be free to display the Easter Lily in remembrance of our patriot dead.”
"Ógra Shinn Féin activists should be launching and promoting the Easter Lily much earlier this year to ensure that more and more people proudly wear their Lily in memory of our Patriot Dead."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cllr Johnny McGibbon completes successful tour of the USA

The month of December saw Ógra activist and Sinn Féin Councillor in Lurgan, Johnny McGibbon, visit the USA in a 2 week tour of 6 major cities. Below Johnny talks briefly about his time in the US and the experiences and events he took part in……..

In December I had the honour of representing Sinn Féin in the Mid-west area of the United States. I had the opportunity to travel to 6 major cities in the region, and meet with some extremely interesting people and organisations.

The tour was sponsored by long term Republican support group in the United States, Irish Northern Aid; who organised public meetings and events throughout my stay in the mid-west.

I began my trip in Chicago, Illinois and spend around 4 days in the ‘Windy City’. (I’m sure this is because of the strong winds coming in from it’s situation right on the edge of Lake Michigan; although I was informed it’s nickname originated from the fact that most of their politicians are full of hot air!). This gave me my first look into American society and into the Irish Republican community in the United States.

The first event I attended was with the Arab American Action Network. I attended a workshop with teenagers from the inner city area of Chicago, who were mostly of Palestinian descent. We discussed the similarities between Ireland and Palestine, and also discussed the social conditions in which young people are living with in the United States today. This was a quite humbling experience, and was really when I fully realized the opportunity I had been given.

On the same evening as this workshop I attended a local awards dinner for social justice groups working in Chicago. The awards ceremony honoured individuals and groups would had played a major role in their community over the last year. Many of the awards were given to social justice groups and activists who had stood up against huge property developers in their neighbourhoods. The event was fittingly entitled “The People’s Thanks Giving”. They even asked me to speak briefly about Political Prisoners in Ireland and internationally.

Before I left Chicago I was invited to speak at a public event organized by Irish Northern Aid. These public events were organized in each of the cities I visited. These were the main meetings to discuss specifically what was happening in Ireland, and what was specifically happening in the political process Republicans are now engaging in. I tried my best to update people on our progress, and explain what Republicans are doing in the political institutions in Ireland, north and south.

All these meetings produced interesting discussion and I was pleased to find how up to date INA activists are. (Considering the poor press coverage of the situation in Ireland today.)
I continued on my tour doing College speaking events in Detroit, Cleveland and Grand Rapids, Michigan; as well as the public INA events, of course. College events proved to be somewhat different from the normal INA events. The College events saw people of all ages and backgrounds, coming to events to hear about Ireland. While many were of Irish descent, many also pointed out that they had no connection with Ireland or the struggle for independence. Yet I was overwhelmed by the sheer feeling of injustice, the students felt towards the situation in Ireland.

Throughout my stay in the United States, I met with many Irish American activists. Wherever I went I was treated to a fantastic welcome, and great hospitality. I had the opportunity to spend time with comrades who led our support base in the US throughout the latest phase of our struggle, and who still continue to do so today. Irish American Activists, like Irish Northern Aid, are as determined and as committed as ever to building, and campaigning for a United Ireland in the USA.

The Spirit of Freedom most definitely still burns amongst Irish-America.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Governments differ – patients die!

Stephanie Lord

The 20th-26th of January is European Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and the Irish Family Planning Association has been highlighting this important initiative all week in the media and giving out “Pearl of Wisdom” badges to promote it. It is important that Irish women are aware of this as the rates of women dying from cervical cancer here have increased by at least 1.5% every year since 1978. Taking the average figures, 180 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the south this year, 73 of whom will die. One woman in Europe will die from it every 18 minutes.

The awareness week will aim to show that women can go some way to preventing this disease by attending their GP for regular smear tests and getting the vaccination against HPV. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the common virus that causes cervical cancer. It is transmitted through sexual contact or intimate skin-to-skin contact. According to Dr. Tracy Murray, a medical spokesperson for the IFPA a shocking 80% of women will come into contact with HPV in their lifetime, and despite this the majority of women do not realise that it causes cervical cancer and furthermore, do not realise it is preventable. “Only 29 per cent of Irish women are aware that a vaccine for cervical cancer exists,” she said. “Despite the fact that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 45, three out of four women don’t know what causes the disease. We hope that this Week will show Irish women how important it is to regularly attend clinics for smear tests and to discuss vaccination with their doctors if appropriate.” And that, is a “pearl of wisdom” worth hearing.

Unfortunately the Irish government has not followed the lead of Governments in the likes of Greece where a pro-active attitude towards cervical cancer has been taken and it is now mandatory that all girls are vaccinated against HPV at age 12. From next autumn, 12 and 13 year old girls in England will receive the vaccination in schools and this initiative is expected to save up to 400 lives per year. This vaccine programme will also be rolled out in the 6 Counties. As well as this the French, Italian, Spanish, German, Belgian, Austrian, Norwegian, Canadian and Australian governments have introduced vaccination programmes. Even some states in the US (with a health care system so inept possibly Ireland is only second to it in Western terms) have introduced a programme. Procrastination in the 26 Cos. by the Government leads to 73 women dying each year. 73 deaths that are preventable.

Although a Cervical Cancer Awareness Week did take place in the 26 Cos. in June it is unfortunate that the government have merely encouraged women to get regular smears and did not follow through with the next logical step – a roll out programme of the vaccine that will prevent it. Dr. Henrietta Campbell of the All Ireland Cancer Foundation has said that Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Europe and while the rates in comparable countries decrease annually, they increase significantly here annually. It is unfortunate for the women of the 26 Cos. that the Government would rather increase spending by almost 200% on PR activities in their Departments than implement a vaccination scheme for this easily preventable disease. Screening through a smear test alone will only help in terms of early identification of irregular or cancerous cells. While early detection and treatment is hugely beneficial and very often life-saving, it should only be complementary to a vaccination preventing the cancer from occurring in the first place.

Unfortunately though this prevention mechanism will only be available to a lucky few. The vaccines are not available on the general medical card scheme and if your GP decides that the vaccination is right for you, you can be expected to pay €500 - €600 for it. So realistically as it stands rich women might get vaccinated, poor women might get cancer. It fits in quite well with the current ethos behind the health system in this state. If you have the cash, great, and if you don’t – well that’s just tough for you isn’t it? “Countries that have been running successful cervical screening programmes over the last 20 years have seen the rate of cervical cancer fall but we have seen hundreds of women die from the disease in Ireland," Dr Campbell has said. It has been found that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women aged under 45 throughout the world and it is the third leading cause of cancer deaths among women after breast and lung cancer even though it is so preventable. It is disgraceful that in one of the richest economies of the world, one of the biggest killers of women is preventable and yet, Irish girls and women are not being frogmarched to their GPs to get it.

The recent Programme for Government, contains a commitment to make a cervical cancer vaccine available as "a universal public health entitlement", and quelle surprise as of yet there is no sign of it. It is clear that a national immunisation programme on an all-Ireland basis is the only way to combat this. It worked for the Meningitis C vaccine. There is no reason why it cannot work for HPV. Given that there are only 21 female TDs out of 166 in the Dail, perhaps the Government would be far quicker to initiate a programme if it affected men too. It is amazing that this life-threatening disease could be eradicated and literally thousands of lives could be saved. If only the Government that have the power to do it, actually wanted to.
Further information on cervical cancer is available from your GP, from any IFPA or Well Woman clinic or by contacting the IFPA on 01-8069444. National Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700. More information on European Cervical Cancer Protection Week is available at

Youth 4 Truth

Ógra Shinn Féin are to host a major conference on collusion and state violence during the Bloody Sunday weekend. The ‘Youth 4 Truth’ conference is being organised for Saturday 2nd February @ 3pm in Pilots Row, Derry.

It will aim to discuss in particular the events surrounding Bloody Sunday and the assassination of Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton, and the subsequent cover up. It will also look at the impact of these events on young people then and now.
John Kelly, of the Bloody Sunday families and Amanda Fullerton, daughter of Eddie and leading campaigner with the Eddie Fullerton Justice Campaign, will address the conference which will be followed by a discussion.

Niall Doran, chairperson of Doire Ógra Shinn Féin, urging people to attend said,

“In order to truly move forward and ensure proper conflict resolution, the bloody legacy of state violence and collusion is something which the British Government must come clean on. There is an imperative on the British, to state they where an active protagonist in the conflict and own up to their ‘dirty war’ in Ireland.”

“The whole ethos of the ‘Youth 4 Truth’ conference is to present the facts on state murder and call for a disclosure of the truth. While a whole generation of young people where deeply affected and politicised by the events of Bloody Sunday, the impact of that brutal massacre can still be witnessed today in Derry, with thousands of youth participating every year in the Bloody Sunday March.”

Ógra Shinn Féin attend vigil in support of East Belfast Family

Ógra Shinn Féin activists joined an anti deportation vigil on Monday at Belfast City Hall. The vigil was called to urge against the deportation of East Belfast residents Comfort Adefowoju and her family.

Alex Maskey MLA and Bairbre de Brun MEP also joined the vigil, with Bairbre addressing those assembled and pledging Sinn Féin’s support to them.

Gemma McKenna of Queen’s University Sheena Campbell Ógra Shinn Féin, said.

“The nightmare that Comfort and her family must be living in Yarl’s wood detention centre is a human rights violation. These draconian centres are not fit for human habitation, especially young children.”

“We call on Jackie Smith, the British Home Secretary to immediately release Comfort and her family and allow them to return to their home and community in East Belfast where they have been playing a very positive role.”

Photographs courteousy of Ciarán Ó Brolcháin

Derry Ógra Shinn Féin Stand Up For Derry

Derry Ógra Shinn Fein took part in a cavalcade to the steps of Stormont on Monday. The cavalcade was a part of the ‘Stand up for Derry’ Campaign.

The campaign was launched in November 2007 and has five central demands. It calls for more quality jobs for Derry, more social and affordable housing plus greater investment in health, education and infrastructure.

Derry Ógra Spokesperson Bronagh McKnight, who was also involved in the cavalcade said

“For far to long Derry, and indeed communities west of the Bann have been neglected by successive British Governments. This campaign is about challenging all of that and about bringing prosperity and hope west of the bann.

“In our view issues affecting young people must be addressed. The lack of youth facilities in Derry is a huge issue which should be addressed. Many young people in Derry and indeed further a field turn to alcohol and drugs in the absence of such facilities. This is a worrying trend and something we should work towards tackling.

"We are simply not prepared to let Derry be overlooked anymore. The people of this city deserve better and we intend to ensure that they get it.

MLA Martina Anderson has championed the campaign and said she was delighted with the turnout on Monday.

Ms. Anderson said

"I was delighted at the response today and the large numbers of people who made the journey to Belfast in atrocious weather are a credit to their city,"

"When we launched this campaign, we said that our aim was to unite opinion around the needs of Derry and to ensure that the new political dispensation delivers where those in the past have failed.

"Today was a very important step in that process and I was delighted to see the SDLP standing shoulder to shoulder with us because it's vital that we are all speaking with one voice on this issue.

"Today was also an exercise in participatory democracy - about bringing the people of Derry right into the heart of government and allowing them the opportunity to have their say.
"As elected representatives, we should never forget that we are public servants. The Assembly does not belong to politicians or any political party, it belongs to the people and we have a responsibility to deliver for the people.

"That's what Stand Up For Derry is all about - ensuring that our city and the North West in general get's its fair share.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Green’s should get real on Lisbon Treaty

Stephanie Lord

Deirdre De Búrca says No voters would be reluctant to join SF campaign in todays’ Irish Times. Talk about cutting your Green noses off to spite your face. Sendator de Burca is now defending the fact that the Green Party are being completely spineless on this issue with their wishy washy rubbish of “well you can support the Lisbon Treaty if you want but you don’t really have to”. Either the Green Party supports the Lisbon agenda. Or it doesn’t. Either a political party stands for something. Or it doesn’t. Clearly the Green Party doesn’t support this treaty- they just haven’t the balls to come out and say it. Because if they did, well they could kiss bye-bye to their Ministerial cars couldn’t they? I did wonder how they were going to worm their way out of this one given that they campaigned against (quite vigorously I might add) every European referendum ever held in the Free State.

It is quite clear that since the Green’s have joined the coalition of the “unwilling to do anything progressive” they have quite clearly chucked anything they ever stood for in the incinerator. From the M3 and Tara, to carbon taxes and carbon budgets. And of course, my favourite; campaigning against Shell activities in Rossport and singing from the high heavens about how terrible it was that a multinational were inflicting such ills on the local community, and now we have a Green Party Minister overseeing the whole operation. You couldn’t make it up.

The Green Party want their bread buttered on both sides and jam on the crusts. They want to be seen to be doing their bit in Government (or at least pretending) and keeping their masters in Fianna Fail happy but they don’t want to alienate the minority of their membership that have retained their principles.

"Sinn Féin has failed to articulate a clear or positive vision for Europe. Coming from a party with a broad internationalist appeal and strong European roots, Green Party members are unlikely to be attracted by the narrow nationalism that underpins Sinn Féin's approach to Europe," Ms. De Burca said. Well, if Ms. De Burca took the time to educate herself and read Eoin O’Broin’s insightful article in this week’s An Phoblacht (available here) she would realise that there should be no mistake as to Sinn Fein’s articulation of a clear or positive vision for Europe, contingent on taking a democratic equality and rights-based internationalist approach to the EU. Then again, some people just prefer to engage in flinging anti-Republican soundbites at the issue because it distracts from the real issue and leaves you not having to answer any questions. You don’t say anything of real substance and you look all the better for it. Suits the Green’s down to the ground.

A third of the Green Party membership are against the Lisbon Treaty. This is not about party politics anymore. There are broader issues and principles at stake here. This is about trying to retain equality and some kind of social justice in the EU. If that third of people truly believe that what they voted in the right way at their party conference, they should heed the calls of Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald and join the “vote no” campaign. A level of clarity and political maturity is needed here. I have no doubt that they know the issues at stake. Now they should get real and step up to the campaign before it is to late.

Ógra Shinn Féin Protest Statoil Offices

Last Sunday in solidarity with the people of Rossport, Ógra Shinn Féin held a protest outside the offices of Statoil Ireland in Dublin. The protest was to highlight the continue involvement of Statoil, a Norwegian state industry, in the theft of Irish natural resources and endangerment of the Rossport community, through dirty deals with Shell and the 26 county government.

Activists handed out leaflets on Statoil's complicity and the campaign to save our natural resources. Police presence was high, with a number of Gardaí and at least two special branch cars. Activists refused to be intimidated and even left a few reminders on the walls of the headquarters.

Ciarán Fitzgerald of Ógra Átha Cliath had this to say:

"Statoil along with Shell backed up by Fianna Fáil, the Greens and the Gardaí, are taking what is rightfully the property of the Irish people and lining their own pockets while endangering local communities. We must continue and step up the campaign against this theft."

A National Protest will be held in Bellanaboy on Friday 1st of February for more information please call +353871323369

All areas should have a presence or hold a solidarity picket.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ógra Shinn Fein launch new campaign on Drugs and Alcohol abuse

Saturday last at an Comhdháil Náisiúnta, Ógra Shinn Féin launched their new national campaign, NARC Not Another Ravaged Community. The campaign is an awareness campaign, focusing on highlighting the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse on communities. The campaign will be the focus of Ógra activity over the next six months.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign on Saturday, outgoing National Campaigns Officer, Peadar de Bluit said;

“During the past year, in undertaking the ARISE and Moilligh Síos campaigns, Ógra sharpened our camapigning techniques. In the coming months we must now must utilise this, and commit ourselves in the coming months to re-doubling our efforts to ensure that this new campaign is a success. This campaign provides immense potential, not only to make a difference in terms of drug and alcohol abuse in Irish communities, but also presents the possibility of building on the unprecedented growth and development witnessed throughout the country in rthe last year.”

“This aim of this new campaign is to highlight the destructive affects of drug and alcohol abuse on Irish communities. To this end activists will be engaging in a number of activities during the campaign. Obviously our first priority is the publication of the new campaign, which will be done through local launches in areas where Ógra are active. This is an awareness campaign, and as such, dissemination of literature will also be of paramount importance. Our principle objective in this campaign will be to bring home to people the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse on their communities.”

“Another key aim of the campaign is gaining widespread support for the campign aims. We cannot expect to achieve our aims in isolation, for this reason motions will be presented, supporting Ógra’s campaign demands, to council chambers across the country. In conjunction with this in order to garner popular support Ógra activists will also be asked to become involved with local community groups tasked with engaging with the epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse in their areas, ensuring Ógra activists are at the coalface of tackling drug and alcohol abuse across the 32 counties.”

“Activists are being asked to undertake a lot in the name of this campaign, however, if we commit ourselves to contributing as much as we can to this campaign the benefits to communities across the country, will make our efforts worthwhile.”

“Tá carn mór obair le déanamh ag an uile duine againn san am atá le teacht. Is ceist an-mhór í ceist mí-úsáid drugaí is alcól sa phobail, le tús an fheachtas seo áfach táimidne in Ógra Shinn Féin á rá go soiléir nach bhfuilimid sásta cur suas leis a thuilleadh. Má chuirimid isteach an obair sin ní cur amú a bheidh ann insan méid a bhainimid amach ag deireadh an fheachtas. Ní neart go cur le chéile.”

National Organiser Address: Turn our words and thoughts into unstoppable action!

Barry McColgan
National Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone for travelling and participating in the National Congress this weekend. I would especially like to extend our huge appreciation and solidarity to our Basque, Catalan and Corsican comrades, who travelled huge distances to be with us.

I would also like to thank the Shell to Sea and Tara activists for their presence and again dedicate our support to our imprisoned comrades who from captivity sent us a message of inspirational defiance, Ógra Shinn Féin will continue to campaign until each and everyone of you are free.

Ógra Shinn Féin held their last Congress here in Dublin just over a year ago. At that time Sinn Féin where knee deep in the Saint Andrew’s negotiations and this in particular formed a pivotal point of focus and discussion at that Congress.

The prospect of a deal at that time with the DUP, on power sharing in the Northern Assembly, although realizable, demanded crucial issues to be dealt with to ensure success. The most crucial of those issues for republicans was policing and of course Ógra, like every other part of the organization discussed this fully.

Having at the November Congress rejected outright any prospect of a deal on policing, the encroaching deadline and more optimistic signs from the DUP towards power sharing, the leadership of Ógra Shinn Féin proposed a radical new proposal on Policing, which included the setting up of municipal policing structures, more local accountability, and more separation from the 6 County state.

Shortly following the formulation of this document, the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle debated fully the prospect of convening a Special Ard Fheis on the issue of Policing. Ógra Shinn Féin participated fully in these debates with the full Ógra leadership attending these meetings.

The outcome of the Ard Comhairle was to propose a Special Ard Fheis, with a motion to go before it calling for the Sinn Féin activist base to endorse policing arrangements in the North and to hold them critically to account through the Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships.

With new information made available, a changed reality and the Sinn Féin leadership now proposing engagement with policing and justice in the North, the Ógra National Executive decided to hold a Special Congress to debate whether or not to change our then position of complete rejection of policing.

Although not supporting the Ard Comhairle motion, the Ógra Special Congress voted overwhelmingly to support our alternative document on policing.

This position was carried forward to the Special Ard Fheis at which Ógra made strong representation on our position but stressing the importance of unity regardless of outcome, one of our key strategic objectives of maintaining maximum internal unity and cohesion.

But of course reserving the right to remain that radical voice and ensuring the party remains rooted to its ultimate objectives.

And that we did comrades, our organization has stayed solid in many areas and grown in others. This time last year we didn’t have Ógra activists from Derry, West Belfast, Clare and Wexford in attendance, we now have many fine activists from those areas joining us today.

In the past year, Ógra have continued to drive forward a radical agenda, building a mass republican youth movement that can and will affect necessary change across this Country.

In the past year our organisation has strengthened, our activism has increased and as a result we are now without doubt the most visible, fastest growing and impacting youth movement on this Island.

Organised in the communities and colleges throughout Ireland we have campaigned on pressing issues that are facing young people and on real issues that force the struggle forward.

The ARISE campaign was taken to the streets and countryside of Ireland, through broad based protests, and direct actions, we highlighted the plight of the blighted community of Rossport, demonstrated meaningful solidarity with our oppressed comrades, and we launched initiatives around tackling the pressing issues of Sectarianism and Racism.

Following a very active and concerted campaign on ARISE; Ógra launched a major campaign on the crucial issue of road safety, highlighting the huge avoidable death toll related to dangerous driving.

We believed that young people in particular were affected by this tragedy, with road accidents being the second biggest killer on this Island. Following a launch in Dublin, thousands of leaflets were handed out across Ireland, the campaign which was titled, ‘Moilligh Sios’ Slow Down, the message was driven to many major towns including Belfast, Omagh, Navan, Drogheda, and Armagh.

We also lead a national road safety vigil in Dublin in December. The vigil was organised in conjunction with Labour Youth, and the Young Greens, and succeeded in its objective of raising awareness and prompting other youth wings to take up the challenge of this difficult yet important issue.

The campaign touched on an important aspect of Road Safety which had not been utilised in the past. Ógra Shinn Féin mobilised their activists as peers to engage with young people on this issue and to urge them to consider their actions.

While it is very difficult to access the success of such a campaign, we do know that a report published into road deaths published in December reported that the overall number of deaths caused by road accidents was down. While there are many factors to this, Ógra can be confident that our many actions, and work on youth engagement has played a positive role in the broad campaign to urge, drivers to be more responsible.

We have professionalised our organisation over the past year, greatly increasing the output news and on the blogspot which now receives on average 500 hits daily, producing top quality films on issues ranging from Republican Youth and the Basque struggle; we also launched a new National Website, and have continued circulation of Glór Na nÓg and the circular.

In August of 2007, Ógra activists and Basque comrades descended on Omagh at the final West Tyrone Demilitarisation weekend where we bid Slan Abhaile to the British War Machine in that area, however a clear message being sent from that weekend was; we will continue to lead the campaign until the remaining 5000 British occupying troops are shipped back to where they came from – a simple message really – Brits Out!

On the International Front, Ógra Shinn Féin have greatly strengthened our solidarity and increased our working relationship with many inspirational youth wings throughout the world. While we have campaigned in Ireland throughout the past year Ógra have sent delegations to Corsica, England, USA, Catalan Countries and the Basque Country.

Sending a large national delegation to the Basque Country in September, we travelled throughout on a speaking tour, demonstrating the strong links between our 2 historic nations.

Our International work is very important; we are only one nation in a global struggle for freedom and socialism.

The past year has been a hectic, difficult yet rewarding; we need to step up our actions and further the growth created. It is very realisable that next year we will launch a further 12 cumann and double our membership, if every activist implements a simple logic of recruiting one member each.”

The N.A.R.C campaign, an extremely engaging campaign on an extremely important issue can assist in this greatly. So lets turn our words and thoughts here today into unstoppable action, let us campaign, recruit and educate and be a shining light to all those who have gone before us. Let us be the generation that see’s the rising of the moon!

Tíocfáidh ár lá!

Ógra Shinn Féin organise successful and upbeat National Congress

Young Republican delegates from across Ireland and representatives of International youth movements mobilised in Dublin this weekend to take part in a packed and upbeat Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress.

Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams delivered the main address and helped launch Ógra’s new drugs and alcohol campaign called N.A.R.C. (Not Another Ravaged Community) campaign.

The Sinn Féin President told the assembled; Comhdháil Náisúnta, that the Lisbon treaty was a bad deal for Ireland.

“The Lisbon Treaty, like many of the treaties that went before it, does not deliver reform, efficiency or democracy. It is a bad deal for Ireland. We deserve and can achieve better.”

The weekend long republican youth event was the ninth annual Ógra Shinn Fein congress.

On Friday night, Dublin T.D. Aengus O’Snodaigh welcomed delegates and facilitated a debate on the encroaching Lisbon Treaty.

Following a lively and engaging discussion exploring exciting and innovative ways to bring the campaign to Irish citizens, delegates then dealt with motions on the peace process, environment and Europe.

Delegates then attended a video showing on the Basque Struggle, which was a prelude to a discussion on the importance of Internationalism.

Eoin O’Broin opened proceedings on Saturday morning. The first National Organiser of Sinn Féin Youth (97-98), said that the seriousness and level of debate at the Ógra congress is what sets it apart from the other youth wings.

A new introduction to the National Congress was workshops, delegates formed up discussing pressing issues including policing, building a mass youth movement, gender equality, Lisbon Treaty, community engagement, Irish language, and education.

The workshops where extremely engaging with the majority of delegates participating in discussion, they also acted as a confidence builder with many more delegates speaking to motions following.

Before activists broke for Lunch, Lou, a member of the Tara campaign addressed the importance of mobilising against this attack of National Heritage.

A statement was then read out from the Republican POW’s which thanked Ógra activists for their solidarity actions. Jim ‘Flash’ McVeigh the last OC of IRA Prisoner’s Long Kesh, read out the statement.

Gerry Adams then delivered the leadership address. He paid tribute to the campaigning work of Ógra and urged for Ógra to lead a vigorous and innovative campaign for a no vote in the Lisbon Treaty.

He also welcomed the N.A.R.C. campaign being undertaken by Ógra, saying that whilst illegal drugs were having a detrimental effect on communities we also need to focus on the huge problems associated with alcohol abuse.

Following the leadership address, Cuige organisers give their reports to the congress. The organiser’s reported back a steady level of activism throughout Ireland and also informed Ógra of numerous new cumann set up throughout the Cuige areas in the last year. Indeed these cumainns were represented at the congress.

During the International Section, addresses where made by Segi (Basque), JERC (Catalan) and GI (Corsica), all spoke of the importance and inspiration that Ireland remains to them. All delegations received a standing ovation.

National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan delivering his National Address spoke of the growth and professionalising of Ógra over the past year.

“In the past year, Ógra have continued to drive forward a radical agenda, building a mass republican youth movement that can and will affect necessary change across this Country. In the past year our organisation has strengthened, our activism has increased and as a result we are now without doubt the most visible, fastest growing and impacting youth movement on this Island.”

“We have professionalised our organisation over the past year, greatly increasing the output of news especially on the BlogSpot which now receives on average 500 hits daily, producing top quality films on issues ranging from Republican Youth and the Basque struggle; we also launched a new National Website, and have continued circulation of Glór Na nÓg and the circular.”

He finished,

“The past year has been a hectic, difficult yet rewarding; we need to step up our actions and further the growth created. It is very realisable that next year we will launch a further 12 cumann and double our membership, if every activist implements a simple logic of recruiting one member each.”

“The N.A.R.C campaign, an extremely engaging campaign on an extremely important issue can assist in this greatly. So lets turn our words and thoughts here today into unstoppable action, let us campaign, recruit and educate and be a shining light to all those who have gone before us. Let us be the generation that see’s the rising of the moon! Tíocfáidh ár lá!”

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Protest: Stop Racist Deportation

A Chairde,

This Monday (January 19) a Nigerian family who came to Ireland to try to build a better life for themselves are facing deportation on the orders of the British Home Office.

Comfort Adefowoju and her four children have spent the last two months in a draconian detention centre in England after their removal from their east Belfast home by state-employed racists.
If you want to show your support for the Adefowoju family and your disgust at the British government go to Belfast City Hall at 12.00 on Monday (January 19).
Please Forward!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ógra Visit IRA POWs in Castlerea

Ógra shinn Féin activists travelled to Castlerea on Saturday 12th January to visit the Irish Republican Prisoners of War. Activists travelled from Counties Tyrone, Armagh, Down and Louth to make to journey to the county Roscommon jail. The visit was a part of a more concerted campaign by Ógra Shinn Fein to highlight the plight of IRA POWs who remain incarcerated despite an end being brought to the armed campaign.

Speaking on the Visit Councillor Johnny McGibbon said

“These men should have been released under the good Friday agreement however the inflexibility of the Dublin government has seen the men continue to be held. A number of motions in front of the Ógra Congress during next weekend will once again call for their immediate release. The men in Castlerea have said they are prepared to serve their time and have removed themselves from the negotiating table.

However for republicans the issue of republican POWs being held in jail is an issue of great concern and anger.”

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SDLP Anti-Republican As Ever

Be honest lads

I have attended a number of public meetings over recent weeks and watched in genuine disbelief as well known members of the SDLP, who according to their professions would be viewed as intelligent, rational human beings, engaged in what can only be described as play school antics and pettiness. The venom espoused by these members, some of who had been drafted in from other areas, was obvious to even the most non-political person.

The meetings were public, and were aimed at tackling the antisocial and rampant drug problem in the area. These meetings were not political and residents comprising from all walks of life arrived eager to tackle them.

The problem for the SDLP was that the people who initiated the debate and who proposed a solution, happened to have a Republican ideology. At the first meeting a drafted in SDLP councillor refused to refer to Sinn Féin by it proper name, preferring to call the North’s largest Nationalist party as the Provisionals, gangsters, criminals and the like. The other SDLP members who also had an agenda attempted to antagonise further by claiming that the people were afraid of ‘’Sinn Féin bully boys.’’

The people responded, and many infuriated by the false allegations, spoke in defence of Sinn Féin and the hard work party activists have been involved in. Indeed no Sinn Féin member needed to speak, the people had spoken on our behalf.

At the most recent meeting, I believed that the SDLP would have learnt their lesson and would, like the rest of the community be positive and back the initiative. How wrong I was, as I entered the room I noticed that an executive meeting of the SDLP Youth was sitting in the hall, again he like those before him were not from the local area. In fact that SDLP Youth Member travelled a considerable distance to attend the public meeting.

Once again, the nonsense began with SDLP members attacking the proposed solution, stating firstly it would not work and then when that failed, began to insult with ferocity the people at the top table. Again no Sinn Féin member responded, instead the packed assembly furious that a second attempt of petty party politics was being made demanded that the SDLP leave their politics outside the door.

They refused, waiting to deliver their Pièce de résistance. It was at this stage that the member of SDLP Youth executive spoke, and attacked the top table, accusing one of being a ‘’convicted murderer ‘’ the SDLP Youth member was heckled and booed by people in the packed hall. It was then that a member of Ógra Shinn Féin spoke. ( The only time a member of the party spoke ) and asked firstly for the SDLP Youth member to identify himself, where he is from and most importantly which party he is a member of. With great reluctance I might add, he answered all three. To which a roar of disproval echoed throughout the hall.

I must say I found it very disappointing that the SDLP blinded by pettiness attempted to stop and discredit a community project. Nevertheless, the SDLP failed in their attempt. Their grievances centered on one issue, a Republican suggested a solution to a community's need.
And we thought the Brits were Anti-Republican?

John 'Nice but Dim' Gormley

Gerry Junior

It appears John Gormley, Green Environment Minister's 'bright idea' to ban traditional light bulbs in the Free State, has come under ridicule this week.

The 'I never heard of Rossport', 'Where's the Hill of Tara?' stalward apparantly has an abundance of the 'dreaded' ordinary bulb in the supposed conscientious department headquarters.
The department of the environment stronghold only has 1/3 of all their light bulbs, energy efficient........ hypocrisy??
So was John 'Nice but Dim' just trying to catch the headlines with this initiative?
A message to good old John, before you start to lecture us all next time, get your own house in order first!
And the next time a light bulb clicks upstairs in that head of your's, make sure its an energy efficient one!

Nadine Coyle: Closet Provie

Gerry Junior

The darling of Derry, the gem of Girls Aloud, is a closet provie. Nadine revealed in a recent interview with 'Hotpress' that not only did she not like being referred to as a 'Brit', or demand the Irish National Flag be put up on the Girls's Aloud Album, but she also dated Martin McGuiness's son back in the day.

So there you have it, a stauncher amongst Girls Aloud, no doubt lining up to perform a cover version of 'Back Home in Derry.'
In Nadine's own word's,
"When people say Girl's Aloud are British, I will explain that four are British and one Irish."
It would appear she is also very much behind the N.A.R.C campaign saying,
"I am very Anti Drugs!"
But while Nadine tried to keep her blossoming relationship with McGuinness Óg under wraps in fear of controversy, I bet you, he didn't do the same.
Up the Republic Nadine!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mary Harney playing with people’s lives

Barry McColgan, National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin has accused Mary Harney of playing with people’s lives over her recent decision to freeze the budget of the National Office for Suicide Prevention at the 2007 level.

“This is disgraceful especially coming after Bertie Ahern’s offensive remarks in the summer; it demonstrates the attitude of the Dublin Government to Suicide Prevention.”

“Suicide is the biggest killer of our young people in Ireland, it goes without saying that suicide prevention demands urgent government action and increased funding. This very dangerous move from the 26 County Minister for Health and Children sends out a message that the Dublin Government are quite content at Ireland’s current high level of suicide incidence.”

“If this decision is not overturned, not only are lives being put at risk but the community and support groups at the coalface in dealing with suicide are being forced to scale down their noble operations.”

“Ógra Shinn Féin are demanding that Mary Harney overturn this ridiculous decision and instead of paying lip service to this national tragedy, she should increase funding significantly.”

“In our youth election manifesto we set many key demands on this issue, including the ‘Mental Health Act 2001’ be fully implemented. We again re-iterate our demands and we will continue to campaign on this most vital of issues.”

Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress Clár

Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress

ATGWU Hall, Middle Abbey Street

18 – 20 January


Friday 18 January

5 pm: Registration

7.00pm: Welcome

7.15pm: EU Reform Treaty

8.00pm: Motions

10pm: ÓSF Basque Film showing followed by debate on Internationalism in Sinn Féin Ard Oifig, 44 Parnell Square

Saturday 19 January

9am: Registration

10.15am: Introduction by Eoin O’Broin First National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin

10.30am: Motions

12noon: Workshops

1pm: Lunch

2pm: Launch of N.A.R.C (Not Another Ravaged Community) campaign

2.10pm: Leadership Address by Gerry Adams MP MLA

2.30pm: ÓSF Cuige Organiser’s Report

3.00pm: Motions

4.30pm: International Address

5pm: National Organiser Address by Barry McColgan

5.30pm: N.A.R.C Protest at GPO


9.00pm: Night of Music with ‘Dominican Affair’ and an open mike session @ Bohemian FC Social Club, Dalymount Park, Phibsboro. Taille 5 Euro

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Martin Hurson: The Voice of Truth For Irish Youth

The following is a short film made in memory of Óglach Martin Hurson, a brave young Irish Republican from Cappagh, County Tyrone who bravely volunteered his life for Irish Freedom on July 13, 1981.

Martin joined the 1981 Hungerstrike after enduring the brutal inhuman torture of the blanket and no wash protest. He hoped his actions would bring about the destruction of the 'criminalisation' policy in the prison and invigorate the republican struggle on the outside.

His actions and inspirational sacrifice alongside his 9 comrades 'lit the dark of the prison cell' and not only smashed the failed policy but created a catalyst that forced the Republican Struggle to within touching distance of its objectives.

Martin was only 24, the same age if not younger than some Ógra activist's, when he breathed his final breath in Long Kesh Concentration Camp.

His sacrifice was truly great and heroic, it should be a burning inspiration to all of us, as a ballad wrote in his memory defiantly states,

"And though I'm gone you must fight on,
Till Ireland is free again!"

Onwards to the Socialist Republic!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Interview : Oisín Ó Dubhláin, Ógra Shinn Féin Dublin Organiser

‘Be the change you want to see’

OISÍN Ó DUBHLÁIN is Ógra Shinn Féin’s Dublin Organiser. Here he talks to PEADAR de BLUIT about student politics, the influences that led him towards active republicanism, the state of Ógra Shinn Féin in Dublin and the role of the republican youth movement today.

Tell us a little about yourself, Oisín.

I’m originally from Cavan but I’ve lived in Dublin now for three years. At the moment I am studying Psychiatric Nursing at Dublin City University. I am currently chair of Dublin Ógra and I was also national college co-ordinator until recently. In addition to being a nursing student, I am a member of the Psychiatric Nursing Association trade union.

How did you find the political landscape in DCU when you got involved initially?

I found DCU at that time to be very apolitical. The students’ union there was weak and didn’t engage with the student body on student issues in any meaningful way. Even in the context of political life on the campus I don’t think that the vast majority of those who did sign up for different political societies had a genuine interest in activism. Things do seem to be looking up though.

Recently, an independent left-wing group has come together in the university. It’s made up of the different political societies and also other smaller groups. As of yet it has not undertaken any major actions but we hope to become much more active in the coming months.

You say that the campus was not overtly politicised – but you were?

Yes. I would always have had an interest in Irish history growing up. I was brought up to have respect for those who fought and died in 1916, during the Tan War and right up to the most recent phase of the struggle. I grew up having respect for the IRA and the Republican Movement.

Also, being from Cavan, the work being done by Sinn Féin in that constituency, especially in local communities, encouraged me to join Ógra and Sinn Féin. I was raised with a very clear awareness of the inequalities that exist in society and the reasons behind them, i.e. the capitalist system. From that I would have become more committed to the need for class struggle and grassroots community activism.

So how did you get involved in Ógra?

I joined Ógra during the freshers campaign in DCU. During the first two weeks I found it a bit slow to get going as there was minimal activity on campus. After that, however, I became involved in Ógra in Dublin and very quickly I became much more involved in campaigning, protests and the different Ógra actions taking place in the city. I was not immediately involved with Sinn Féin. In fact, I only became properly involved with the party structures in the city after the following year’s AGM.

How active were Ógra in Dublin?

There had been quite a good level of activity in Dublin Ógra. However, a number of core activists in Dublin Ógra moved into full-time roles in the senior party, including the new chair of Ógra in Dublin going into a key position in an important constituency. Unfortunately this caused a stagnation of activism in Dublin at that time and the remaining activists became disinterested owing to the lack of focused activity in the city and gradually began to drift away from the organisation.

Did the election campaign not provide enough activity to keep those activists on board?

No. There was not enough Ógra activity going on to keep people organised along Ógra lines although a number did good work in their own constituencies. By the summer I became chair of Dublin Ógra and began to deal with the problems that had arisen in Dublin.

I began by reorganising the Ógra structures in the city, paying special attention to improving communications in Ógra in order to develop the level of activity and organisation. In co-operation with the senior cúige, plans were developed to rebuild Ógra, giving more forethought to Ógra activity in place of the reactive protesting that had been there up to that point.

What role does Ógra Shinn Féin play within the Movement?

Our primary role would be to provide a strong radical voice for the youth within the party and Irish society as a whole. Our second function as I see it is to educate and radicalise the young people who join Ógra and Sinn Féin.

And how do you think that is going?

Ógra are, without a doubt, punching above our weight and getting a lot done right across the country. We are definitely the most visible youth wing in the country.

Our purpose is to radicalise young people and make a difference on youth issues. It is imperative we work towards radicalising our communities in fighting for their needs.

What role can Sinn Féin and Ógra play in this task?

Firstly, we need to focus on the achievement of reunification to contribute to the development of a normal society and work towards a more social set-up in place of the status quo.

In Ógra we must act as a force for maintaining a radical outlook. Ógra must stand up against any move to the Right or adoption of constitutional nationalism. As we draw ever closer to reunification it is young people who have the best opportunity yet to work for social change and the ultimate development of the socialist republic.

What would you say to young people considering getting involved in politics?

There has never been a more important time to be involved in the Republican Movement. Sinn Féin is the only vehicle which is going to continue to push for a 32-county democratic socialist republic in a meaningful way.

If there are young people out there to whom the injustice of the continued partition of Ireland and the inequalities and corruption of the current system is repugnant, now is the time to get involved.

I would say to young people who have a genuine interest in these things to get thinking and talking amongst each other. If you are dedicated to the ideals of 1916 it is essential that you put that dedication into action. You get nowhere by standing still and criticising – get in there and be the change you want to see. Bí linn sa streachailt. Bí linn in Ógra Shinn Féin.