Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rock Against The Treaty!

Ógra Shinn Féin are organising a ‘Rock Against The Treaty’ in McKenna’s Bar, Monaghan Town on Saturday 31st May to build up popular opposition to the upcoming Lisbon Treaty.

The ‘Rock Against The Treaty’ will host music from 4 upcoming bands, and the bar will be decked out in banners and posters with a clear message No! 2 Lisbon.

Speaking on the upcoming event, Monaghan Ógra Shinn Féin activist Senan MacAoidh said,

“The Lisbon Treaty would have hugely damaging effects to our country, damaging our sovereignty, neutrality, environment, workers rights and public services. It is important that everyone, especially the youth mobilise and vote No! 2 Lisbon.”

“We gathered the idea of ‘Rock Against The Treaty’ from the hunger strike era when huge ‘Rock Against The Blocks’ where organised across Ireland. They where hugely successful and allowed young people to support the cause of the POW’s in a novel and exciting way. We want to create a similar atmosphere today, where young Irish people can play an exciting part in the No! 2 Lisbon campaign.”

“We need to be imaginative and relevant in the upcoming months to mobilise support behind a No! vote, and initiatives like targeting GAA matches, banner drops and ‘Rock Against The Treaty’ nights can play a hugely positive role in ensuring Ireland stands up for the rest of Europe!”

Public Talk in Dublin: 'Cuba - After Fidel'

Monday, April 28, 2008

Successful Debate in University of Ulster Magee

Photo: Ógra activists with Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson, and Cllr. Colm Eastwood (SDLP)

Despite the ongoing issues of the Political Protocol in the University of Ulster, a successful debate titled '10 Years Since the Good Friday Agreement' took place last week.

Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson MLA and Cllr. Colm Eastwood of the SDLP, spoke and answered questions from the floor in a healthy debate.

Chairperson of the Sinn Féin society in the University of Ulster Magee, Jack Murray said he was "delighted to see the debate take place" and encouraged the University of Ulster to "take a hard look at their Political Protocol."

He commented further,

"10 Years of change needs to be recognised by the University of Ulster. They should take a hard look at their protocol and ask themselves is it in-line with society in Ireland in 2008."

"Unfortunately they will find it is not. It is our view that this protocol must go immediately.

No-Side scare-mongering?

Aine Ni Dhubháin
Ógra Shinn Féin

With the Lisbon debate finally kicking off and with Sunday’s RedC poll result hot off the press it seems that certain Yes campaigners have got their backs up a bit.

Over the last few months the ever-neutral Free State media have done all in their power to paint those advocating a No vote as crazy, delusional, anti-Europe and, to quote the great has-been Taoiseach “Loo-Lahs”.

Apparently us Loo-Lahs do nothing but ‘scare’ the public into voting No.

Now that’s funny.

Since when has engaging in debate and offering the facts of the treaty ever been scare-mongering?

Our good friends in Fianna Fáil however, well that’s another story.

Far from offering the facts of the Treaty, the ‘Soldiers of Destiny’ would prefer to tell us all about how, if we vote No, the heavens will open, a plague of locusts will ravage our lands, the four horse-men of the apocalypse will appear to punish the insolent Irish for disobeying their betters and worst of all little Ireland will be reduced to a quivering wreck sitting in the corner of Europe like a little abandoned cat stuck out in the rain.

Speaking at the Fianna Fáil commemoration at Arbour Hill yesterday, everyone’s favourite has-been Bertie Ahern said:

'It would be a disaster for this country not to pass [the Lisbon Treaty].

It would have repercussions that will seriously damage us.'

Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that the only scare-mongering here is done by the Yes guys and gals.

‘Seriously damage us’…sounds like a threat to me!

With claims that the Lisbon Treaty is going to solve the issue of Climate Change (lie) and the threat of serious damage to the country should a No vote be obtained being the basis of pretty much all of the Yes arguments, it leaves the door wide open for those of us who have read the Treaty, read the facts and who do not need to resort to such petty, frightened scare-tactics such as those used by an iar-Thaoiseach, to debate this Treaty and show the people of Ireland that this is a bad deal for our country and for Europe.

So far there has been absolutely no substantive reasons given to vote Yes as there is none, and with wider debate people are beginning to realise this as the latest poll results have shown, which led Ahern to make his latest unfounded, worried threats to the people of Ireland.

It is high time for the Government, and the broader Yes side to stop the lies, stop the threats and to stop trying to scare the public into doing as they say.

The people of Ireland will not be fooled.

NO! 2 the Lisbon Treaty!

Joventuts d'Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (JERC)

Orlagh McCauley
International Officer
Ógra Shinn Féin

JERC translates into English as Catalan Leftist Republican Youth. They are the youth wing of Catalonia's Republican Left (ERC). Both were formed in 1931 after a Conference of Leftists was held in March of that year.

During the Spanish Civil War many Catalan Republicans lost their lives or went into exile as ERC was the leading force of the Popular Front. When Franco came to power in 1936 he deemed the party illegal and later executed the leader of the party, Lluís Companys i Jover who had been captured by the Nazis. Franco's dictatorshp had a massive impact on the Catalan Republican and independence movement.

It was only after the death of Franco that ERC regained support and in the 1980 they entered the government of Catalonia in a coalition. The following decade seen a massive growth of youth joining JERC. Today ERC is in coalition in both the Catalan and Spanish government, JERC is one of the largest youth movements in Catalonia.

JERC is committed to the independence of Catalonia from Spain. They are democratic, left wing and popular. Their aim is to attain a democratic society, with no sign of social or national apprehension and within an ecologically balanced land.

After attending Ógra Shinn Féin's national congress two delegates from JERC found that the issues concerning youth Irish Reublicans are similiar to those of youth Catalans.

Both organisations want the right to self determination for the Irish and Catalan people. Both want to see improvements to the quality of life for the citizens. For example free education, improvements in public healthcare with a vast downscale or abolishing private healthcare, promotion and protection of national language.

Both organisations know of the importance and neccessity of Internationalism and have attended many international conferences together. Both Ógra and JERC support the Corsican's right to independence. Both support the Basque's struggle for independence and condemn the oppression imposed by the French and Spanish authorities.

A JERC member, Arseni Armengou i Coromina, lived in Ireland for one year. When he first moved over he was shocked at the lack of interest in politics by the majority of people in the South. Particularly youth people and in relation to an united Ireland. He was shocked that English is still the first language in much of Ireland.

He spoke to me before returning home. He commended Sinn Féin for going into government with the DUP in the North and seen this as a major step in Ireland's path to a united Ireland.

Arseni believes Sinn Féin's role in politics in the South is more of a challenge than in the North due to the number of left wing political parties. If we are to gain suppoort we need to bring something new to Irish politics. He believes the healthcare system and the Irish languages are two areas of opportunity for this.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ógra An Lorgain Continue NARC Campaign

Ógra Shinn Féin activists in North Armagh continued the ongoing NARC (Not Another Ravaged Community) campaign this weekend, with a stall in Lurgan town centre.

Activists distributed hundreds of leaflets, and engaged with the general public on the issues of Drug and Alcohol awareness. Many passers-by stopped to comment on the excellent iniative being taken by young republicans to tackle these issues.

Ógra spokesperson in Lurgan, Stiofán Ó Scolláin said,

"We were pleased with the response we received today in Lurgan. We saw today as an opportunity to highlight our campaign, and the issues of Drug and Alcohol abuse which exist in our communities. We feel we did this successfully today."

He continued,

"We intend to build on our work to date in the time ahead, and will continue to promote the message of Not Another Ravaged Community amongst the youth of Lurgan."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

GFA - 10 Years On...

Students of the University of Ulster campus in Magee, Derry, will be gathering in the university, this Thursday 24th April, to discuss '10 Years Since the Good Friday Agreement'.
The event, beginning at 6.30pm in Room NV007, will see representatives of all the major parties involved in the negotiations, as well as local academics, discussing the Agreement, and the change of the last ten years.

Those attending the event include Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson, Cllr. Colm Eastwood of the SDLP, Leslie Mitchell of the PUP and representatives of the Alliance party, the UUP and the DUP. Issues of student fees, education and the on-going Political Protocol issue in the University of Ulster are just some of the topics some students have said must be up for discussion.

Chairperson of the Sinn Féin society in the University, Jack Murray commented:
"This debate should prove a healthy forum for students to air their views to all the main political parties. I think it is a healthy sign to see an event like this happening 10 years on from the Agreement."

He also commented on the University's Political Protocol. He said: "I would ask the University to look at their Protocol, and recognise that this type of event shows how society has changed in the north. They need to move with that change." ENDS

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Newcastle Ógra Shinn Féin Critical Of Electoral Office

Newcastle Ógra Shinn Féin have criticised the Electoral office (EONI) for the stringent procedures that young people must go through to be put on the electoral register.

Fra Cochrane Chairperson of Newcastle Ógra said, “It has been brought to our attention by a number of young people in the area that they have had a great amount of difficulty in trying to be placed on the register, and apparently this problem is rife throughout the six counties.

“It is simply unacceptable that at a time when it is difficult enough to get young people on the register the EONI is adding further to young peoples lack of interest.
“Some young people have even been sent threatening letters saying that their case may be passed on to the police if they do not send on documents which some young people simply don’t have. This type of behaviour by a body that should be trying to get people on their side, rather then putting them off cannot be tolerated.

“Newcastle Ógra Shinn Féin are calling on the EONI to make it easier for those seeking to be placed on the register. It is imperative that more young people are eligible to vote and the onus is also on the EONI to make this happen.

Monday, April 21, 2008

National Youth Forum on Drugs

Ógra Shinn Fein are set to host a National Youth Forum on Drugs in Dublin on Saturday 17 May. The drugs focussed youth forum which is being held in the Teacher’s Club from 12 – 5pm is part of the youth movement’s NARC (Not Another Ravaged Community) campaign.

The National Youth Forum will deal with many pressing issues relating to drugs, including community activism, drug and alcohol awareness and a debate on could legalisation assist in tackling drug abuse.

National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan said,

“The National Youth Forum on Drugs will see young people from across Ireland come together to discuss the pressing issue of drug and alcohol abuse, and the impact they are having on our communities.”

“Drug abuse and misuse is a major issue in Ireland today, with an increase in drug related deaths. It is an issue that we collectively need to address, and hopefully the youth forum and other such initiatives can play a positive role.”

“It will be an opportunity to educate and equip activists with drug and alcohol awareness, it will be used to discuss the hugely negative impact that drugs are having on young people and communities, and more importantly it will be an opportunity to suggest ideas and plans that can stem and reduce this growing epidemic.”

“The whole ethos of the NARC campaign is to promote young people, empowering them to play a proactive role in their community and to highlight this; the forum will include talks from community activists who have been to the fore in organising their areas in confronting the plight of drugs.”

Tazers Must Go!!!

Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry held a protest on Saturday outside Strand Road PSNI Station over the introduction of Taser Guns. Representatives from West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin and Magee Ógra Shinn Féin also were in attendance. Ógra members handed out leaflets and engaged with members of the public throughout the duration of the protest.

Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Niall Doran stated,

“The introduction of Tasers into the PSNI armoury without the support of the Policing Board and without the results of an Equality Impact Assessment contravenes the Patton Report principle of communities having a say in policing. The ability of these weapons to cause death is well documented and they cannot be allowed to be used indiscriminately."

“Even though we are being told that these weapons will only be used as an alternative to live rounds and as a weapon of protection, last week on a BBC Fly on the Wall documentary, Welsh Police used a Taser Gun on a man as an offensive tactic. The man was standing in the street when a police officer approached him and used a Taser, It was later confirmed that the man was totally innocent.

“This type of abuse gets introduced when the public do not take a stand and Ógra Shinn Féin are determined to highlight the issue so that it remains on the agenda of the Policing Board and that the Chief Constable withdraws the weapon from general use."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mountpottinger WILL GO!!

Niall Ó Donnghaile
East Belfast
Sinn Féin Representative

For many of us who live in the Short Strand, Mountpottinger Barracks has been a symbol of all that was wrong with policing in the past, and in the present, an indication of what needs to change in order to get policing right.

No community should have to live with such blight in the middle of their home. The base, which started life as an RIC Station, acts as a constant reminder to us all of how this state has been policed. Throughout the conflict it has been a site of collusion, of intimidation and even murder. When the Short Strand area was attacked on the 27th June 1970 no response emerged from the base and in the summer of 2002 while the area was put under siege the base stood a number of feet away from many of the incidents and prevented nothing. In 1983 an RUC man leaving Mountpottinger opened fire on three local people shooting 18 year old Tony Dawson dead. Weapons from its arsenal were taken and passed on the UDA, and many people have passed through its gates en-route to the notorious Castlereagh interrogation centre.

These are all reasons why Sinn Féin and the Short Strand community has wanted to see this base dismantled and gone and these are some of the reasons why we continue to campaign for its removal.

The PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde and the Policing Board all need to accept that within the new political dispensation that exists’ barracks like Mountpottinger do nothing in building trust or confidence in the PSNI and that no area should be policed from what is essentially a military base. The community is moving on, the PSNI need to catch up. Alex Maskey has raised the future of the barracks at the Policing Board and I have asked a number of times from the floor of the East Belfast DPP Sub-Group when the barracks will be removed and the land utilised for the benefit of the local community. The current PSNI logic is to use Mountpottinger as ‘storage space’ while Strandtown Barracks is renovated! They tell us a consultation on its future has been re-opened yet no residents in the Short Strand have been contacted. This simply is not good enough and is not accepted by our community.

Recently we heard the news that a number of Fermanagh PSNI barracks are to close, we have also seen the removal of fortifications throughout the rest of Belfast and this is to be welcomed. The Short Strand is ranked as being within the 9th most socio-economically deprived ward in the North of Ireland; the need for a military base in an area like this is minimal, the need for its replacement with social housing and community usage is essential.

Our call throughout this campaign has been ‘HOMES NOT FORTS!’ I reiterate that call and Sinn Féin’s commitment to achieving the removal of Mountpottinger. We are moving on and Sinn Féin is to the fore in making sure our communities get the high standard of policing that we all deserve, because that is the task with which our people have entrusted us. Mountpottinger and relics of the past like it have no place in the Ireland of the future. Sinn Féin will continue to join with the community in the time ahead in lobbying for the removal of Mountpottinger.

Friday, April 18, 2008

À Century of Youth in Struggle

Barry McColgan
National Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

“They can trace back their history to Na Fianna,
Which the Countess formed in 1909”

So goes the ‘Voice of Ógra Shinn Féin' and they are important words as next year will mark the Céad bliain (100 years) from the formation of the first Irish Republican Youth organisation, Na Fianna Éireann.

It is a significant anniversary which Ógra Shinn Féin must and will commemorate, paying tribute to the pivotal role played by the organisation and the activists it educated and trained.

We need to be imaginative and ambitious in our plans as we move towards this significant anniversary. We need to educate the broadest section of modern Irish youth on the momentous and crucial part played by Na Fianna Éireann activists from 1909 until it came to an end in 1992.

It was Na Fianna and its cadre like Liam Mellowes who where key to the Easter Rising, supplying vital intelligence and quarter master duties, and it was a Na Fianna Unit at Boland’s Mill who fired the first shots during Easter Week 1916.

Na Fianna proved the sincerity and commitment of their activists from their early days with 5 Fian’s tragically killed during the Rising.

Na Fianna Éireann sparked inspiration to Irish youth, giving young Irish republicans a forum and movement to debate and organise themselves in national ideals and in preparation for freedom.

The blood sacrifice of young activists on Easter Week 1916 caught the national sympathy and anger of Irish youth who quickly and in droves mobilised behind the flag of Na Fianna.

The confidence and skills that was gifted to their activists, equipped the IRA with an experienced and committed pool of activists from which to recruit, and many of these outstanding, visionary activists went on to lead the IRA, devising strategy and tactics throughout the Tan War.

Na Fianna continued to play a key role in the difficult years following partition as republicans where brutalised and interned by free staters and the bigoted unionist northern state.

They would again tragically yet inspirationally come to the fore in 1969 as loyalist mobs attempted to ethnically cleanse nationalist ghettos, with the first republican activist to die during the modern phase of conflict being Fian Gerald McAuley.

Gerard died defending his area, Bombay Street from the state backed sectarian onslaught.

Na Fianna continued to recruit, educate and train young activists up until it came to end in 1992. The contribution of this youth organisation to the freedom struggle has been immense, and as the inheritants of their legacy, Ógra Shinn Féin must not only be planning to commemorate their contribution, but also re-double our efforts to complete the task for which so many fallen Fian’s died for.

We can derive all the inspiration in the world from the exploits and sacrifice of Na Fianna, we have the flag of Na Fianna (Sun Burst) emblazoned on our logo, we are proud to be linked to their unbroken legacy and next year should be used to inspire thousands of more Irish youth to the struggle.

Onwards to the Socialist Republic!

Joe Stalin - What a Bastard!

I Still Hate Stalin
Ógra Shinn Féin

On April 3 some 86 years ago, a wee squirt from the back of beyond in
Russia rose to the position of General Secretary in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

He would single handedly come to represent despotism and tarnish communism and socialism globally pulling beautiful quotes like, ‘one death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic,’ out of the bag.

That bastard of ego and menace, wee Joe Stalin.

Under his murderous dictatorship, millions upon millions would die through unnecessary famine, slave labour and especially his over zealous arm chair defence of his name sake, ‘Stalingrad.’

Stalin cannot be defended, his exploitative and animalistic treatment of the people flies in the face of true socialism, and he deserves to be lambasted, ridiculed and condemned for his mass mis-representation of socialism.

As a republican socialist, because of his crazed dictatorship, and state institutionalised paranoia, he has made the job of promoting a socialist system hugely difficult.

Following Lenin’s positive leadership, he laid the foundation for the crumbling of the Soviet Union and the Great Red Hope. His rise to power reeks of careerism and opportunism, a bad recipe for leadership, his doctoring of photo’s to place him in the company of Lenin, his suppression of Lenin’s memoirs, and his Machiavellian flirting of the left and the right in his rise to power shows a deviousness for self gain.

Of course his ruthless efficiency led to vast industrialisation and technological advances in the USSR, but the methods and means in rectifying ‘the 100 years behind the world powers’ would pale Hitler and Pol Pot in comparison.

The Gulags, slave labour, extreme hardship exploitative nature gave the West mega tonnes of propaganda against Socialism.

Totalitarianship is the ideology and lasting legacy of Stalin.

Let us condemn Stalin, call him the bastard that he was and move forward inspired by revolutionary figures who have placed the people at the core of their struggle, people like Bobby Sand’s, an activist, an ordinary person who played his part.

His views of ‘our revenge will be the laughter of our children’ as opposed to Joe’s ‘statistic’ quote.

I Still Hate Stalin!

Derry ÓSF Engaging with Youth

Last Week Derry Ógra Shinn Féin conducted what they hope to be the first of many engagement meetings with young people in Derry City. MLA Martina Anderson and other Sinn Féin activists where present at the meeting where over 30 young people raised pressing issues amongst the youth in the City, and had a successful debate on various issues including the National Ógra Shinn Féin N.A.R.C Campaign.

Niall Doran, Ógra Shinn Féin Doire activist said:

"We in Derry Ógra Shinn Féin have been looking for a way which we can successfully engage with the youth in our City for many months now. The Youth Engagement meeting we held in Rathmór was a real eye-opener for the Sinn Féin and Ógra Shinn Féin activists who attended. We had a healthy debate with over 30 young people, and the meeting showed prosperity for the Future of Derry Ógra Shinn Féin."

"During the debate we discussed many issues, including Policing, The Irish Language and Education. However the most important issue raised was that of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in our city. We discussed these issues with the young people to find out how we can best tackle these issues and apply them to our continuing N.A.R.C Campaign in the City."

"The N.A.R.C Campaign must remain at the centre of our attention until the problems of Drug and Alcohol Abuse have been removed from our society. Here in Derry are currently working along-side local Drug and Alcohol Awareness Organisations and are at the beginning stages of designing an Ógra Shinn Féin Drug and Alcohol Awareness Hand Book, which we plan to have designed, produced and distributed to every Secondary School in the City before the pupils leave on Summer Break."

Rallying Call for Solidarity with Palestine

by Peadar de Bluit

Last Saturday 12 a march in Solidarity with the people of Palestine, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the massacre of Deir Yassin, and the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip, was held in Dublin. The march organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign saw a host a different groups come together, among them several Sinn Féin activists, and partake in the march through the capital city. Despite the torrential rain well over a hundred people arrived the Central Bank on Dame Street where the march began.

At the Central Bank, the first speaker, Senator David Norris addressed the crowd. From there the march continued up to Leinster House. Outside Leinster House Labour TD Michael D. Higgins, and Sinn Féin’s MEP for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald spoke to the rally.

Urging people to support the cause of the Palestinian people, McDonald said;

“An injustice never goes away and the consequences of an injustice need to be dealt with. They need to be conquered. And I think that our political class domestically and at a European level need to understand that they need to confront the issue of Palestine with integrity and with truth, and with determination. Michael has referred, to all the buzzwords that are used, all the cloaks for evading responsibility: terrorists, we’re told. Terrorists; those that call for justice for Palestine. We have revisionism, we know all about that in Ireland.”

Speaking about the upcoming Lisbon Treaty she said;

“If we’re serious about the values that the EU claim are quintessentially European, the values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, if those things were real, and held as the baseline values of that union the Euro-Med agreement would by suspended. We’re told by people in this house that Ireland’s independence and integrity on issues foreign policy is beyond question, well I beg to differ. It is not good enough for our Minister for Foreign affairs to play games on this issue. We’re going through an important phase of Irish political life over the next nine weeks. Some people who argue for the great Europe throw Palestine in your face and they say: Do you not want a common approach to Palestine? Do you want a common and powerful approach to Palestine? I have to say that on the basis of evidence to date, I do not want the European approach on Palestine a policy that is about cover-up and lies.”

From Leinster House the march continued to the GPO in spite of the miserable conditions. Coming down Dawson Street and crossing O’Connell Bridge, the march attracted a lot of interest and support from the public. Outside the GPO the final speakers of the day addressed the resilient crowd. Bassam Nassar the spokesperson for the Palestinian community in Ireland.

Passionately addressing the crowd about the ongoing situation in Palestine he said;

“I would like to thank you all for being here with us commemorating the 60th anniversary of the massacres of Deir Yassin. In 1948 groups of militias came along and killed 100 people in cold-blooded hands, over night. 54 of those were innocent young people under the age of 21, with no reason but the fact that the Palestinians, innocent civilians, inhabitants of Deir Yassin little town, that wanted to defy the existence of Israel. They didn’t consider that these people were innocent, they were civilians they took their lives away because they were just Palestinians. These massacres have been conducted by Israel on and on and on, over the last 60 years and the great evidence of what they are doing now in the Gaza Strip, is just the continuation of these war crimes, and Israel, Israel has the perpetual habit of continuing and carrying it out under the supervision of the Hague, United Nations, and the world. We as free nation, as free loving people, we have to do something to stop all these war crimes, not in the name of hating the existence of the state of Israel. It’s not just the Israelis who have the right to exist, we the Palestinians and according to the Oslo accord have the right to exist; in peace in dignity and in honour. The people in Gaza Strip are under tremendous suffering they do not have the basic human rights to live. It’s a human catastrophe. What’s happening in the Gaza strip is an actual catastrophe, being witnessed by all of us, and we’re doing nothing. I’m pleading with all of you here, with the people of the Irish Republic North and South, we have to stand together against all these punishments and crimes against humanity, against the Palestinian people. We have to start showing the principle of our humanity. We want to live in peace, we demand to live in peace. Please help us to free Palestine, help us to allow these people their humanity.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It is all about the balance!

Female Activist
Ogra Shinn Fein

We all have many roles to play in our lives, as a student I am meant to be an academic who pushes herself further in order to fulfill her potential.

I am also a friend and family member who has to be there for the people I love both in bad times and the day to day running of things. As a young person I also have the need to socialise and relax with my fellow peers.

I also have a part-time job that I need in order to support myself. This is nothing out of the ordinary and the vast majority of young people fall into this description with some having the demand of a full time job instead of school.

But there is something that makes me different from my closest friends and even my family and that is because I have an additional role that I have chosen to take on and that is to be a political activist. Why, do I or even do you bother to take on this additional role when our time is already so scarce?
Why do we stand in the cold and hand out leaflets instead of lying up watching a DVD? Why attend public meetings instead of going out with our mates to a night club?

Unlike our parents we do not live in a time of conflict and violence, so my friend why do we even bother to take on this role?

I am politically active because the struggle is not yet over and my country is not yet free; because people died so that I could live in a period of peace and have the opportunities that are now available to me; because there are inequalities that I face in my everyday life that I want to try and change. I realise I can’t change the world in a day but I want to try and make out country that bit better for all the people that live in it.

Yes, some days I wonder why I bother standing in the cold and what difference a leaflet really makes. I think that I cannot make the meeting as I have an essay to write or something else to do.

But my friend I remember that as an activist I am not alone and every person counts. If I don’t go and help out my comrades have to work harder. That working together as a team is the only way to push this struggle forward. That it is easy to make excuses and say “I am busy” but the person who is truly busy is the one who doesn’t stop to make an excuse but instead just gets on with it.

So the next time you get a txt or an email about a meeting, leaflet drop and don’t bother to reply, get asked to do something but don’t do it, ask yourself this:

Am I really busy or do I just not care? Even more simply could I just not be bothered?

I know we don’t have an easy task and every-one demands so much of us and our time.
I am not saying abandon any of your other roles, as each is as important as the other, but just for you to use your time correctly as if other people can do it why can’t we all?
You might think oh no, I have more than them to do but that is often not true they just don’t complain as much.

The tone of this article is not meant to be critical but simply a reminder to us all and especially to myself that taking on the role of a political activist is not easy, but others have sacrificed their lives so that we have a smoother path to travel than they did.

Never forget that “Everyone Republican or otherwise has their part to play, no role to big or small” - Bobby Sands

So stop making excuses and start making change!

Dublin Government Deceit on Lisbon Slammed by Ógra Shinn Féin

Ógra Shinn Féin national organiser Barry McColgan has slammed Irish government plans to force a yes vote on the Lisbon treaty through ‘deceit’ and through help by ‘partners’ including the European commission. Described in a leaked Irish Government Email a senior diplomat described the treaty as "largely incomprehensible to the lay reader".

The email also allegedly wanted European Union announcements which could be unpopular in Ireland to be held over until after a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It is alleged to come from a senior official at the British Embassy in Dublin, sent on 29 February to the Foreign Office in London.

It also revealed that the Irish government planned to fight the referendum by playing up the benefits of the European Union, without focussing on the detail of the treaty, which is "largely incomprehensible to the lay reader".

The email also states "Most people would not have time to study the text and would go with the politicians they trusted."

Ógra Shinn Fein Barry McColgan said the Email showed the vindictiveness of the Irish government:

“On one hand they are telling the people that the Lisbon treaty is good for Ireland and on the other hand they are using its ambiguity to sell it to Irish People. Telling the EU to hold off on controversial measures until after the treaty is an utter disgrace, this is coming from a government claiming to represent Ireland’s best interests.

“The fact that the email said that "other partners", including the European Commission, "were playing a helpful, low-profile role" is an alarming yet not surprising development.”

Mr McColgan also urged voters to vote against the treaty

“In an opinion poll commissioned by a newspaper on Monday it found that still 60% of the electorate hadn’t decided which way they are going to vote during the treaty this summer. The vagueness of the treaty in my opinion explains the high number of people who are undecided. This tells us that we must mobilise effectively and spread the message that Lisbon must be rejected, and exactly why. Indeed as has been shown it’s a story the Irish government would rather have the people not hear."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

UCD McDonagh/Farrelly Welcome Mary Lou McDonald MEP

This Monday the 14th of April, Mary Lou McDonald MEP visited UCD to give a talk on the Lisbon Treaty. The event was organised by Ógra Shinn Féin UCD and all interested students where invited to come along.

Activists set up a stand early on Monday morning in the Arts Block of the college which got a great response from interested students and staff. Leaflets were distributed publicising the event and information on the Lisbon Treaty was also distributed to the student population.

At the event itself, Mary Lou was welcomed by an audience of about 25 made up of members of various other political societies and a large proportion of non aligned students. Mary Lou spoke about the treaty, it's ramifications for Ireland if passed the issues of neutrality, democracy, and economy freedom, and why a No vote would be better for Ireland. The floor was then opened up to questions on subjects such as qualified majority voting, the affect the treaty on climate change, Sinn Fein’s stance on European integration, threatened neutrality, and the scaremongering with regard to China, which she responded to in a clear and coherent manner.

Mary Lou criticized other Irish MEP's, inparticular Prionsias De Rossa, for not standing up for Irish rights in Europe and the lack of coherent explanation which the government was giving on the Lisbon Treaty. She assured the cumann that though it would be tough, it is entirely possible to defeat the treaty.

Mary Lou was given a rousing applause as the meeting ended, and she stayed to talk to interested members of the audience and activists from the UCD Cumann. Everyone agreed.

Cathaoirleach Cumann Mc Donagh/Farrelly Sinead Ní Chaoláin had this to say:

"This event was a great success. Mary Lou's visit not only gave Ógra activists a boost in the campaign against the Lisbon Treaty, but also showed the students of UCD that the argument to vote No was the right one for Ireland and Europe.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No! 2 Lisbon Greets GAA Fans in Omagh

Ógra Shinn Féin targeted Sunday’s decisive GAA national league match, Tyrone v Mayo at Healy Park in Omagh, to build up popular opposition against the Lisbon Treaty.

Several thousand information leaflets where handed out to the thronged crowds attending the match, and a banner stating ‘No! 2 Lisbon ’ was erected at the front gate and also inside Healy park when the match kicked of.

Throughout the course of the ‘No! 2 Lisbon ’ campaign, Ógra Shinn Féin will be targeting GAA matches, as well as other significant sporting events across Ireland .

Speaking at Healy Park , National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Fein Barry McColgan said,

“The Lisbon Treaty would have a hugely negative affect on Ireland and its people. It would reduce our powers in Europe considerably; it would erode our neutrality, undermine workers rights and damage public services.”

“Ógra Shinn Féin will be targeting GAA matches and significant events throughout the course of the campaign, and we targeted today’s match to highlight the Lisbon Treaty to the thousands in attendance, and to urge the hundreds of travelling Mayo fans to vote No!”

“We received a hugely positive response from the crowds at Sunday’s match, and with proactive work on the ground, popularising opposition against the Lisbon Treaty, we can win the vote. In the months ahead, the message will be very clear at GAA matches, No! 2 Lisbon !”

Suicide prevention additional funding welcomed

Ógra Shinn Féin national organiser Barry McColgan has welcomed of additional funding for community work to prevent suicide in west and north Belfast. This will mean that £463,000 including the additional funding is available for this year.

Barry McColgan welcomed the development adding:

"The issue of suicide and suicide prevention is a huge issue facing modern Ireland. The announcement of additional funding is welcome news as is its timing. With the onset of summer the frequency of suicides and attempted suicide increases during this period. The extremely high suicide levels in the north and west Belfast areas needs to be tackled and the additional funding allows this to be done in a community based approach.

"Ireland has one of the worst incidences of suicide. It is the biggest killer of young people in our country. Over the last ten years, reported suicides in Ireland have risen by more than 25%. North and west Belfast have been particularly affected.

"Suicide prevention needs sustained resources. I welcome the additional funding made available by the minister and hope that the much needed resources and funding continue. If the issue of suicide is to be tackled head on such developments are welcome."

Monday, April 14, 2008

South Down Ógra launch new web site.

South Down Ógra have launched a new web site as part of the Ógra expansion in the county. The web site although only in its infancy, has already attracted much attention. Brendan Mc Guinness creator of the site stated that he believed that local web sites have great potential.

‘’The reason we set this web site up, is firstly to make people aware of South Down Ógra, what we are doing and how people can become involved in Ógra. ‘’Our main aim is to recruit new members and educate people about Republicanism.’’

‘’At the minute we have only started and we have only a few things up. But in a short space of time, that will all change, setting up a local cumann site is only one of way of spreading the Republican message but it allows people who maybe thinking of joining Ógra the opportunity to view what we are doing.’’

Brendan also added that the NARC campaign will feature prominently on the web site: ‘’What we hope to do is make people aware of NARC and what the campaign is about. A lot of people are interested in our campaign, and by explaining it in a clear and simple way we hope to get the message out.’’

The South Down Ógra web site can be visited at:


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lets Get Active!!!

While leaflets provide information and can be effective we are meant to be a radical youth wing so we need to be using that as a foundation not as our whole campaign.

What way you chose to tackle the drug and alcohol problem in your area is up to you, but all I urge you to do is use your own initiative to act on this issue.

The QUB Sheena Campbell Cumann is hosting a guest speaker on the Wednesday the 30th of April at 4pm to give a drug awareness talk. The talk will not
only look at the problems of drugs and the effect it can have on people, but will also inform us how to deal with people who are on drugs.

In a perfect world drug dealers and drug addicts would not exists, but there is no point of dreaming of what should be, instead we need to deal with the problems in our society to make a safer place for every-one.

The talk will give us the information and through exercises develop the skills so we can detect signs of people who are becoming addicts and know how to cope if such situations should arise.

The talk is only one way in which we can inform ourselves of the fact
s surrounding the drug problem in our country so we can make people in our own communities aware of what is happening.

There are only 15 places available for this opportunity, I think it would be beneficial if a range of areas were in attendance as they could take the information back and provide leaflets or arrange their own talk.

If you are serious about being active on N.A.R.C and want to make a difference then please attend the talk. To confirm your attendance and get further information email Gemma Mc Kenna her address is gemmckenna@hotmail.co.uk

Ógra Bring NARC to Portadown

Ógra activists in Upper Bann held a stall this weekend in Portadown, highlighting Ógra's ongoing Drug and Alcohol Awareness campaign; NARC.

Activists distributed hundreds of leaflets in the Tunell area and town centre. Accompanied by Portadown Sinn Féin Councillor Brian McKeown, they were enthusiastically met by the public many of which commented on the importance of the campaign.

Portadown Ógra activist Gemma McKenna commented,

"We wanted to get the message of the NARC campaign across to the people of Portadown, and I think we did this very successfully today."

She continued,

"It is exteremly important that young republicans take a lead in their communities, and tackle important social problems like Drug and Alcohol abuse. We must empower our communities and help people realise they don't have to accept their community being ravaged."

"We are looking to build on the good work Sinn Féin have done in the area on these issues."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sinn Féin Critical of British Army Recruitment in Portadown

Craigavon Sinn Féin Councillor and Ógra activist Johnny McGibbon has criticised the announcement of a British Army open day in Portadown this weekend. The event has seen advertising and posters being distributed through local papers in the Craigavon area.

Cllr. McGibbon stated,

“The British Army is misleading young people with promises of ‘rewarding careers and part-time jobs’, ‘great pay’ and ‘all the action and adventure you can handle’, the truth however is much different. Young people will find themselves in battle zones and war torn nations, without any hope of the glamorous careers being advertised to them in Portadown.”

He continued,

“As a young republican, I believe British Army recruitment in Ireland continues to be unacceptable. While I accept that many young unionists may not have the same view of the British Army as I do, I would call on them to reject these attempts to recruit them into discredited, illegal wars which could lead to them losing their lives. As we have seen in Britain, the families of many dead British soldiers are asking why did their loved ones have to die.”

10 Years of Change


In 1998 I was just 12 years old. Yet like many of my friends and peer group, I knew something momentous was happening. We may not have understood the fine detail of a deal which would provide such great political opportunity, and drama, in the years ahead; but we did know something was changing.

We knew there was huge hope in our community for peace, for equality and for a path to a united Ireland. Even at such a young age we had some understanding of the politics of the time. I suppose in the backdrop of things like the Garvaghy Road, and the Orange Order’s insistence on triumphantly forcing a parade through a nationalist community, it’s easy to see how a child can become easily politicised. Even a child can see a community under siege.

I remember thinking at the time and in the aftermath, as my understanding increased, “what does this agreement mean?”

As I became a bit older I began to realise what it meant to me at least. It meant change. It still means change, and the opportunity for further change.

The Agreement meant that all the concerns, problems and issues that come from our community could no longer be brushed under the carpet. Whether it was the release of political prisoners, parades, policing or the Irish Language, the concerns of the nationalist community must now be treated with the respect they are due.

Even if it is a battle a day, we must fight to ensure that all communities are treated on the basis of equality. One thing is certain though, the ‘Fenians’ will never be ‘put in their place’ again.

Needless to say, the Agreement predictably ran into trouble over the years. Up-down, suspension, banned ministers, so called ‘spy-rings’, ‘robberies’, arms issues, allegation after allegation, policing….. Yet despite all this we sit in 2008 with a power sharing executive in the north, secure and expanding All-Ireland institutions and are in the process of changing the face of policing and justice in this island forever.

Problems are likely to continue to arise, as our opponents continue to make it difficult for us and knock our project off course. So we must continue with our efforts and our determination and never take our eyes off the prize.

10 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, I think we our knocking on the door of freedom. I think re-unification is within our grasp. Many people had and still have problems with the Agreement. But it is not a settlement. In my view our struggle is no longer about maintaining the flame, or continuing the fight. It is now about completion.

To me the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement is not a stepping stone to a united Ireland; it’s the final stepping stone.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Turkey jails Kurdish Nobel nominee

A Turkish court has sentenced Leyla Zana, a Kurdish politician and former Nobel peace prize nominee, to two years in prison for spreading "terrorist" propaganda, in Turkish occupied Kurdistan. This sentencing is yet another attempt from the Turkish government to stem the workings of the Kurdish Worker's Party.

The fact that Zana was convicted for a speech she made at Kurdish festival last year, shows the contempt of the Turkish authorities for the Kurdish Worker's Party. Time and again the Turkish government have tried their utmost to hinder the Kurdish Worker's Party.

In the speech, she said that the Kurdish people had three leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, Kurdish politicians in northern Iraq, and Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader.
Zana came to prominence in 1994 when she was convicted for links to the PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey.

She was released in 2004 after Turkey's appeals court overturned her conviction and that of three other Kurdish former politicians.

Ógra Shinn Féin recognise the efforts of the Kurdish people in their struggle against the Turkish government. In recent months the campaign against the PKK have intensified greatly. At this time the people of Kurdistan need the solidarity of the interneational community in the face of Turkish oppression.

Unfortunately with the likes of Brown and Bush in the hot seat this solidarity is unlikely to be forthcoming.

The cause of the Kurds is the cause of every people who struggle for liberation in this world. Ógra Shinn Féin stand in solidarity with the PKK and the people of Kurdistan.

In the words of Ché Guevara, "try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary."