Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Off the ball tackles government policy?

Seamus Donnelly
Ógra Shinn Féin

The campaign surrounding the up-coming Lisbon Treaty referendum has been rather enlightening, provided you have the patience for the at times mind numbing legalistic jargon. Indeed many of the more illuminating points have not arisen in the little debate that has taken place but in the side politics of the campaigns.

When examining how the Treaty has played out, one must start and look at the attitude of the establishment parties. For Fianna Fáil the campaign has been a shambles. Badly briefed ministers have proceeded to fumble their way through a belated campaign. It would appear that in the same manner that Sinn Féin were caught ‘star gazing’ (as one delegate put it at the Ard Fheis) at the formation of a power sharing executive in the six counties at last year’s general election, so Fianna Fáil have been so self involved with their coronation of their beloved Biffo they have taken their eye of the ball.

Indeed the ball hasn’t even come into the Fianna Fáil campaign. Their entire parliamentary party has been so caught up in insulting the No side, their Tanaiste Mary Coughlan doesn’t even realise that each country only has one commissioner at the commission table. Indeed the pages of the Irish Times and the Irish Independent have been jammed with articles in which Fianna Fail (in the form of Thomas Byrne), the Labour Party (in the form of Eamon Gilmore), Fine Gael (in the form of Gay Mitchell) and IBEC (representing business interests) have all had their say, not as one might think in engaging in debate rather taking their chance to attack Sinn Féin.

They don’t address real concerns such as the loss of a commissioner. This is the case for all member states however with the loss of vetoing power in the council of ministers in over 60 areas and a reduction in Ireland voting strength in the Qualified Majority votes. All the while, larger countries increase their power in the council. Let us see the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and IBEC address these issues. Explain why these changes are good for IRELAND.

The new sheriff amongst the Fianna Fáil ‘cowboys’, Brian Cowan has recently lambasted the campaigns of Fine Gael and Labour and I have to say with good reason. Sunday’s Red C/ Sunday Business Post poll that showed the gap narrowing between the yes and the no side, also saw a majority of Labour party voters opposed to the Treaty and around half the Fine Gael voters questioned also opposing the forth coming Treaty. These were perhaps the most interesting of all the results released.

For the Labour Party acceptance of this Treaty is just further confirmation of their move to the centre of Irish politics and their abandoning of the left. Their Treaty campaign has descended into farce. Be it Pronsias de Rossa, (that most reliable of all ‘stickies’) rejecting a motion to respect the Irish vote in the European Parliament or their ridiculous campaign posters that are merely aimed at shoring up their latest flagging leader and promoting councillors ahead of local elections next year, the Labour campaign has flopped. God help poor Joe Costello (Labour’s campaign director) with a party that is fundamentally opposed to the Treaty behind him, he really doesn’t stand a chance. Indeed the Labour party in the 26 counties is rapidly approaching its ‘clause four’ moment in much the same way the British Labour Party did in 1994. With an internal group currently examining its future positioning, I fear the Labour party may well join Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the PDs on the right of Irish politics. If it does come about, it’ll be a sad day indeed.

From another view point one must say that the narrowing of the gap in the last two weeks is a credit to all who are working on the No campaign. Quite frankly with the media coverage as biased as it has been, the polls really shouldn’t be close. From a Sinn Féin point of view, the Lisbon campaign has allowed activists to return to where they are happiest on the streets, and in communities not in the toxic atmosphere that swept over the party in the aftermath of the general election. The party has been re-building from the ground up and the Lisbon referendum has allowed the cobwebs to be swept away.

Having attended numerous public debates and meetings it must be said that the referendum campaign will stand the party in good stead in the long run. A No vote is now essential. The campaign- led primarily by Mary Lou McDonald, the Leinster House team and Padraig Mac Lochlainn has seen some fresh faces make quite an impact namely Eoin O Broin, (a former Ógra National Co-ordinator) and Louth county councillor Tomas Sharkey (who has ruffled feathers in Louth county council and on Questions and Answers) -even gained some back handed complements from RTE’s the Week in Politics on Sunday night. Surely a first.

Let us hope that come Friday June 13th , when the votes are counted that Brian Cowan, Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore will be having a Friday the 13th they would rather forget!

Vote No! 2 Lisbon.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Northern Citizens Denial of Democracy on Lisbon Highlighted

Ógra Shinn Féin activists protested outside Belfast City Hall this past weekend, to highlight the denial of democracy by Fianna Fáil and the Irish Government, in their desperate attempts to push through the Lisbon Treaty.

The youth wing of Sinn Féin held a protest with street theatre, and distributed 1,000s of leaflets posing the question, "Why can't you vote in the Lisbon Treaty?"; in reference to the denial of Irish Citizens in the 6 counties from voting in the upcoming referendum.

Ulster Ógra organiser, Cllr. Johnny McGibbon commented,

"This referendum effects the entire country, but only citizens in the 26 counties will be casting a vote. We engaged with many people who where bitterly angry at not being allowed to exercise their democratic right, which was promised under the Good Friday Agreement."

"Fianna Fáil continuously tell us of their Republican credentials, yet with this treaty there was an ideal opportunity to put all-Ireland politics into action, which they failed to act upon."

He continued,

"It seems those campaigning for a Yes vote, are not interested in the full facts of the treaty; and in the case of Fianna Fáil, aren't interested in all-Ireland democracy."

"Ógra Shinn Féin will be stepping up our actions in the weeks leading up to the referendum urging Irish citizens with a vote, to reject the Lisbon Treaty. We will be particulary focusing on the youth vote and engaging young people, as it will be our generation who will suffer worst if the Lisbon Treaty is passed."

"In the interests of a better Europe and a better Ireland, let's make sure it's a resounding NO! 2 Lisbon come 12th of June!"

Friday, May 23, 2008

Suicide Prevention Course Set For Omagh Next Week

Ogra Shinn Fein are organising an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) programme in Strathroy Community Centre next weekend on Saturday 31 May – Sunday 1 June. The two day course which is being funded by Omagh District Council will run from 10am – 5pm each day and a buffet lunch will be provided. There are a limited number of spaces as only 15 maximum can participate.

Speaking on the ASIST programme, National Organiser of Ogra Shinn Fein, Barry McColgan said,

“Suicide is the biggest killer of our young people in Ireland, and has caused enormous grief on families and communities. Ogra Shinn Fein have been pro – actively working on Suicide Prevention and Awareness, organising public meetings, vigils, leaflet drops, meeting with ministers responsible for funding and also attempting to empower people to work on suicide prevention by hosting the ASIST programme in different venues across Ireland.”

“This is the second course we have organized in Omagh and the ASIST programme will equip people with the necessary experience to act as a care giver to anyone who is in danger of taking their own life, the more people trained in ASIST can have a positive impact on Suicide Prevention. This is an issue that we all need to tackle collectively, and the ASIST programme is open to everyone. However as spaces are limited, I would encourage anyone interested in taking part to contact me ASAP on 07885569940 or”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bush Not Welcome!

Oisín Ó Dubhláin

Ógra Shinn Féin Átha Cliath

As a member of a party with a considerable mandate and a massive project of national reunification as our goal, its part of the deal that sometimes you will have trouble with how things are going, wording of statements etc. I accept this. I understand many of the tough decisions which have been made in advancing our struggle unencumbered by rhetoric and posturing.

That said some decisions have to be beyond acceptability, some have to be denounced for the good of the party, the struggle and the project. Things like the use of PFI’s in the last assembly, which showed up our inexperience and a certain lack of imagination and practiced radicalism which I believe has been overcome for the most part. These were wrong, full stop, they can be explained, reasoned on but not condoned. A mistake not to be repeated.

Another mistake not to be repeated or honoured is the invitation of George “The Butcher of Baghdad” Bush to our shores. Over the years of isolation and exclusion Republicans never refused to talk to anyone. I believe this is a great strength of ours and something I hope we continue to uphold. It is another thing entirely to welcome George Bush to Ireland.

The man at the helm of the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The man who has propped up the occupation of Palestine and the slow torture of its people as well as the invasion of Lebanon.

The man who has made the world more unstable, unjust and unequal than any president of the United States in history.

He is of no benefit to this country, or any other for that matter.

The argument will be made that it is his position of President which is the reason behind his invitation but you cannot separate the position from the actions carried out in its name.

I cannot accept an invitation for George Bush to Ireland, I was there when he came here in June 2004. I called him a war criminal, an imperialist capitalist murderer. I stand by that.

Ógra have voted to oppose visits by the British Royal family until the full removal of British rule from Ireland,. The British Queen is a figure head, Bush is a real, active imperialist.


....and the difference is?

Death of Brian Keenan

Ógra Shinn Fein learned with sadness the death of veteran republican socialist, Brian Keenan. We extend our sympathy to his extended family and friends at this time. Brian was a lifelong republican who came to the fore when the need arose to defend the cause of the Irish Republic.

As a republican who dedicated his life to the Irish republican struggle for freedom and independence, his absence will be evident and irreplaceable. In a series of interviews with An Phoblacht before his death Brian spoke of the ‘opportunities that are there to move the struggle forward to reunification and independence'.

Brian remains an inspiration to Ógra and as we progress towards the socialist republic for which he dedicated his life, we will remember his contribution in that struggle.

Brian once said “Revolution can never be over until we have British imperialism where it belongs—in the dustbin of history”. We in Ógra agree fully agree with Brian’s view and pledge to continue to work towards the establishment of a 32 county democratic socialist republic in Ireland.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Arthur Scargill to Headline Campa Náisiúnta Óige 08

Legendary Socialist and Trade Union activist Arthur Scargill will headline this year’s Campa Náisiúnta Óige. The National Youth Camp which is being held in Tí Chulainn, South Armagh from the 20 – 22 June will see the former head of the British NUM (National Union of Mineworker’s) speaking on ‘reclaiming our economic and political rights’ at 4pm on Saturday 21st June.

Scargill rose to prominence after playing a crucial role in bringing down Edward Heath’s government in 1974 and in the battle with Margaret Thatchers' Tory Government in the 1984 - 85 Coal Miner’s Strike. He has been noted for his fiery oratory skills and innovative protest tactics like the ‘flying pickets’.

A lifelong political activist, he remains active as leader of the Socialist Labour Party which he reformed in 1996.

The talk by Arthur Scargill will be only one of a number, of political, cultural and social events organised throughout the weekend.

Other significant events, include a youth debate on ‘What the proclamation means to you?’ which will include contributions from all major youth wings. There will also be an international youth talk on ‘freedom for small nations’ with youth activists from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Basque Country and Catalan Countries speaking on national self determination.

On the social front, The Wolfetones’ Derek Warfield will provide the music on Saturday night in Silverbridge Resource Centre.

The National Youth Camp is open to young republicans (17 – 29) from across Ireland, however camping space is limited and so we would urge everyone to send in completed booking forms and money as soon as possible.

For booking forms and further details contact: 02882 253040 or

Campa Náisiúnta Óige 08
National Youth Camp
Tí Chulainn, South Armagh
20 - 22 June

Friday 20 June

Arrival and Pitch Tents: 1pm

Failte: 3pm

Lunch: 3.15pm

Barriers to young people in society: 4.30pm

Republican Youth, A Century of Struggle - Film and Talk: 6.00pm

Dinner: 7.30pm

Traditional Session: 9pm

Saturday 21 June

Breakfast: 9am

Republican Tour of South Armagh: 10am

Youth Debate - What does the Proclamation mean to you?: 1pm

Lunch: 2.30pm

Arthur Scargill - Reclaim our Economic and Political Rights: 4.00pm

International Youth Debate - Freedom for small nations: 6pm

Dinner: 7pm

Music by The Wolfetones' Derek Warfield in Silverbridge Resource Centre: 9pm

Sunday 22 June

Breakfast: 10am

Leaving address: 11am

Bus Leaves for Bodenstown: 11.30am

Launch of Short Film: Drugs – A Community Struggle!

Ógra Shinn Féin publicly launched a short film ‘Drugs – A Community Struggle!’ at their youth forum on drugs last Saturday 17 May in the Teacher’s Club, Dublin .

The short film outlines the youth movement’s NARC (Not Another Ravaged Community) campaign which is working to increase drug and alcohol awareness and tackle the negative effects that they have on our youth and communities.

The film outlines the problems associated with drink and drugs, the underlying reasons behind these problems, and identifies solutions on how we can collectively begin to tackle the drug epidemic.

The republican youth movement have uploaded the film to YouTube and Bebo in order to engage a wider audience.

You can view it at:

Barry McColgan, National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin said,

“This is the first in a series of short films that we will be producing on the issue of drugs and alcohol abuse. It was necessary to outline the background and objectives of the NARC campaign in this initial film, before we touch on wider issues in future projects.”

“We have tried to highlight relevant topics that will spark further debate, and we would encourage as many people to watch and promote it amongst friends and family. Drugs as the title of the film suggests, is a community struggle, and it will only be an empowered and informed people working together that can effectively re-dress this problem.”

Youth Forum Deals with Crucial Issues of Drugs

Barry McColgan
National Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

A youth forum on drugs held in the Teacher's Club Dublin, at the weekend, sparked an interesting debate and dealt with many crucial issues relating to drugs and alcohol.

The youth forum which was organised by Ógra Shinn Féin as part of their NARC campaign brought together young republican activists from across Ireland who discussed and debated a way forward for our communities to overcome the plight of drugs.

The first part of the youth forum was a talk titled "Community fight back against drugs" which included contributions from Dublin Cllr Larry O'Toole, Aengus O'Snodaigh TD and Belfast community activist Daniel Jack. The talk was very interesting and insightful, giving a historical aspect to the drugs epidemic. It traced the progress of actions that had been taken by communities in attempting to tackle the hugely negative impact of drugs. The speakers and contributions from the floor highlighted the inaction of the state in dealing with the growth in drug abuse and also the need for ourselves to play a more pro active role in empowering communities to tackle the problem head on.

Following the public launch of a new short film "Drugs a Community Struggle, a very open and comradely debate on legalisation took place with 2 activists on either side of the debate.

The debate on whether legalisation could assist in tackling drug abuse, had Oisin Dolan and Christine McCauley speaking in favour of legalisation and Councillor Johnny McGibbon and Lee Casey speaking in opposition. Those in favour spoke about taking controlled drugs out of the hands of criminals and drug lords, and how legalisation would open up the issue more and allow society to have a proper debate on tackling drug abuse. They also pointed out that legalising drugs would bring more regulation to drugs and said that prohibition has never worked.

The opposition spoke about the defeatist attitude of legalisation, and said that rather than stifle drug abuse, it would actually add to it, making dangerous drugs more widely available and acceptable. It was also pointed out that as we live in such a globalised world, any move by Ireland to legalise drugs would have an impact on other countries.

Following a very lengthy and passionate debate with many comments and questions from the floor, the room was divided up into workshops.

The workshops focussed on how to tackle drug and alcohol abuse from a community perspective. While a paper will be completed taking from the plenary on the day, here are a number of interesting observations from the workshops.

It was noted that if we are to effectively deal with the plight of drugs, we need to empower our communities, and as such everyone was urged to join their local community group. Another contributor in a workshop pointed out that while Sinn Féin has an internal network for cumann, councillors, women and youth, no such network exists for republican community activists. It was felt that this would be a very useful tool in order to co-ordinate effective community projects and promote the community led socialism that we espouse.

The workshop also pointed out the need for proper debate on the issue of drugs to better inform ourselves and hoped that the youth forum could act as a springboard to ensuring further open discussion.

Many crucial issues and new ideas where, debated and discussed throughout the day, proving it to be a very useful event in promoting and progressing the NARC campaign.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rosses Martyrs Remembered

The Rosses Martyrs Commemoration took place in in Dunloe Co.Dún na nGall to commemorate Vol.Eoghan Boyle, Capt.Con 'Beezer'Boyle Comdt.Neil 'Plunkett' O' Boyle and Mary McBride Cumann na mBan, who gave their lives for the cause of Irish Freedom during the Tan War and Comdt. O'Boyle during the Civil War.

Comdt. O'Boyle was the last IRA volunteer to be killed during the Civil War after calling for a cessation of fire between the IRA volunteers and the Free Staters during a gun battle, until two women were moved out of the line of fire, he was taken aside and murdered at point blank range.
A good crowd attended the commemoration which was lead by a Republican Flute Band from Belfast and a colour party which included Ogra members from Co. Tír Eoghain. A banner was carried by Ogra's Ogl.Reamoinn Mac Lochlainn Cumann.

After the March speeches were made by Sinn Fein Udras na Gaeltachta member Grainne Mc Geady and Sinn Fein's Cllr.Maire Threase Gallagher. The Tír Conaill Roll of Honour by a local activist and the Proclamation of Independence was read by Donegal Ogra member Maureen Butler and a statemant was read out on behalf of Ogra Shinn Fein Dún na nGall by Frankie Gallagher.

Frankie Gallagher Speaking on on behalf of the Ogl.Reamoinn Mac Lochlain Cumann said,
"Its great to see the crowd gathered here today to remember the Rosses Martyrs and it was a great tribute to the Volunteers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."

"All were young men and women, who were the age of many members of Ogra Shinn Fein. They gave their lives for the struggle that we continue here today. Althought the battlefield and the tactics have changed, does not mean we can take it easy. If anything we must step up our campaign. It is through our commitment and activism that we will unite our country. We know that leaflet drops and public meetings aren't fun but it is much more appealing than the fate met by the Rosses Martyrs and the thousands since. If we fail we have not only failed ourselves but our struggle and those who died for it.
"Its on our shoulders and we must continue. The Rosses Martyrs are great source of strenght and inspiration to myself and my comrades in Ogra Shinn Fein. We owe so much to these volunteers but we will repay our debt to them when we establish an Independant 32 County Socialist Republic. Tiocfaidh Ar La!"

Suffocating Britannia

We are truly entering interesting times, devolution in its guise of a Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Six County administration are starting to bear fruit. When the British Labour party embarked on the idea of devolution for Wales and Scotland, reactionaries mostly Conservative Unionists, recoiled in horror. The prospect of weakening central control from London sent them into a frenzy, many Conservative leaders warned that devolution would be the first of many gradual steps towards the break up of the Union.

How right they were.

Devolution has transformed politics, people in Wales and Scotland are increasingly looking towards their respective capitals, Cardiff and Edinburgh for political guidance and leadership. Whitehall is no longer viewed with importance, rather it is regarded with animosity and seen as a stumbling block to further autonomy. The significance of this, is not only symbolic it is an indication of growing desire among people in Wales but particular Scotland for Independence and freedom. London is resented, the Scottish Nationalist Party is debating and creating policy that reflects the needs of the Scottish people, Alex Salmond is proving that Scottish people are more than capable of leading Scotland.

The cause for independence is strengthened by this fact, opinion polls are proving that support for greater autonomous powers is desired by the overwhelmingly majority of Scottish people, support for full independence has been rising and depending on which opinion poll you read, ranges from 40% to 52%. (A massive increase compared to 5 or 10 years ago)
This desire can be seen in Wales to, more powers similar to that of the Scottish Parliament are now being demanded.

Here in the North, London is becoming increasingly marginalised, the politics of change, driven by Sinn Féin are proving that local elected politicians have the capability to work and create policy on behalf of the people of Ireland.

All-Ireland networking and integration is strengthened on a daily basis, Unionist leaders are frequently meeting and discussing affairs with Ministers from right across the island. Unionists and Republicans are working together on an All-Ireland basis.

The picture is clear, Scotland and Wales are moving towards independence and we are moving towards unity. With Sinn Féin at the helm, our path towards freedom and independence is certain.

Perhaps now the SDLP might realise the futility of their efforts and stop sitting in a foreign parliament and swearing an oath to a foreign Queen.

Our future is unity, an Ireland that is independent and free,

Oak Leaf county concludes tour of Ireland

The tour of Ireland concluding in the Oak leaf county of Derry. The delegation was greeted at Free Derry corner by Derry Ógra Shinn Féin. A walking tour of the Bogside area was conducted by former republican POW Gerry McCartney. Gerry gave an insight into the political wall murals and also spoke of Bloody Sunday and showed the delegation other sites of interest in the Bogside.
It was then on to the Ráth Mór Sinn Féin centre following the tour of the Bogside where the delegation had a meal with Magee Shinn Féin as well as the local Na Fianna Martyrs Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry city.
A public talk has also been organised in the Ráth Mór centre which the Basques addressed. At the conclusion of the talk local Derry republican Charlie McMenimum made a presentation to the Basque delegation and thanked them for their visit to Derry.

The delegation then returned to Tyrone to have a farewell dinner in Omagh, hosted by West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin. Following the dinner, Barry McNally, chairperson of West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin made a presentation to the international delegation.

Dublin next stop on Tour of Ireland

Leaving Belfast early on Saturday morning the Basque delegation en route to Dublin stopped off at Narrowwater, in Co. Down. There the British Paratroop regiment suffered a massive blow in 1979. 18 members of the British regiment were killed in an attack by Óglaigh na hÉireann. Local republican Declan Murphy was on hand to explain what happened at the spot in 1979. Following a brief stop in Co. Down the delegation made their way on to Dublin were a number of public engagements had been arranged.

Arriving in Dublin shortly after midday the delegation took part in a walking tour of Dublin given by a Dublin republican. Finishing in the Garden of Remembrance the delegation had time for reflection in front of the impressive centrepiece of the Garden Remembrance in Dublin’s Parnell square.

The Basques then made their way to the teachers club where they addressed a public meeting.

Following the conclusion of the public meeting the delegation once again headed north and to the town of Monaghan. They were greeted in Monaghan by Sinn Féin councillor Pádraigín Uí Mhurchadha. Pádraigín is a Sinn Fein councillor in Monaghan and is also a sister of IRA Volunteer Fergal O’Hanlon killed alongside Sean South in Co Fermanagh, whilst engaging British forces in 1956.

Before sitting down to a meal hosted by Monaghan Ógra Shinn Féin the delegation attended a commemoration marking the 35th Anniversary of the death of Vol. Tony Ahern. The commemoration happened just a few miles from Monaghan in Co. Fermanagh. Tony Ahern came from Cork to join the IRA in the north and was active along the border. He was killed whilst preparing a landmine to target British soldiers 3 other volunteers who were on the operation survived the blast.. A large crowd of local people as well as friends and comrades of Tony attended the commemoration.

After the end of the commemoration the delegation visited a number of monuments in the Fermanagh / Monaghan areas dedicated to IRA volunteers killed in action. Pat Treanor, a Sinn Fein councillor and life long republican activists accompanied the delegation on the tour and explained the significance of each monument. The conclusion of political events for the day came at Knockatallon, Co Monaghan with a meal hosted by Monaghan Ógra Shinn Féin.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

International Delegation visit Belfast on Tour of Ireland

Belfast was the next port of call for the international delegation on Friday.

They were taken firstly to Stormont to meet with a number of Sinn Féin MLA’s. The MLAs described their work and how they use Stormont to further republican objectives. Following a Question and answer session the delegation moved on to an engagement in west Belfast.

A meeting was scheduled to take place in the heart of west Belfast’s gaeltacht with Seanna Walsh from Sinn Fein’s roinn na chultúir in the Culturlann. Seanna explained Sinn Fein’s objective of becoming a bi lingual party and the actions which are being undertaken to make this vision a reality. He also drew comparisons between the high importance given to culture in both the Basque country and Ireland.

Following the conclusion of the talk on culture Jim Gibney of Sinn Fein gave a talk on the importance of international solidarity and spoke of the strong bond between the Irish and Basque struggles for freedom and independence.

A visit to the Sinn Féin office on Sevastopol Street, west Belfast was next on the clár. The group spoke to Robert McClenaghan about the office and its day to day business. While there they also visited the international and publicity offices.

On the back of meeting Robert the group were taken to Queens Student union were they were given a tour of the Union and met with Michal Harkin, VP of Education. Michal explained the role of student politics and explained that the university was a site of struggle for any revolutionary organisation.

To conclude the day’s political events the international delegations met with a representative of the Belfast Basque committee who gave them a tour of the political wall murals in west Belfast. A highlight of the tour was a visit to the ‘international wall’ in Belfast which is dedicated to raising the plight of oppressed nations through murals. Various murals including many dedicated to the Basque struggle adorn the wall.

With a conclusion to the political events for the day West Belfast Ógra Shinn Féin hosted the international delegation for a meal in a local restaurant. Before retiring to bed for the evening the Basque delegation experienced a small taste of Irish culture by attending an Irish traditional session in Kelly’s cellar.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Armagh host Basque Delegation

Armagh Ógra Shinn Fein played host to the Basque delegation on Thursday as the group visited Armagh jail. On hand were republican ex POWs Sile Darragh and ex hunger striker Mary Doyle. Both women were there to give a very different version of events from that of the NIO employed guide. Both women recounted events in the jail over the years of their imprisonment. Mary served two terms, one as a prisoner with political status and a term as a protesting prisoner, she recounted the difference between both spells she spent in Armagh.

Following a tour of the jail Belfast republican Eibhlin Glenholmes gave a talk on women in struggle and the role of women in the current situation to the international delegation.

A tour of a local community centre and talk on community empowerment and struggle then took place. Paul McCann of the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) project was also on hand to speak about the issue of suicide prevention and the active role Ógra Shinn Fein played in this.

Thursday 8th May also marked the 21st anniversary of the Loughgall ambush. The delegation en route to Lurgan stopped in Loughgall village where they were told of the ambush before holding a minute’s silence.

Councillor Johnny McGibbon then met the group alongside Sinn Fein councillor Dessie ward where they took the delegation on a tour of Craigavon council. Following a short Q & A session with the councillors the delegation made their way to Armagh where they were scheduled to address a public meeting.

After being shown a short DVD of an Ógra Shinn Féin tour of the Basque country last summer the Basques addressed the public meeting.

With the conclusion of the meeting brought other day’s events to a close and the delegation returned to Omagh to unwind from a full day of engagements.

National Youth Forum on Drugs – Come along!

Ógra Shinn Féin will host a National Youth Forum on Drugs this Saturday 17 May @ 12noon in Dublin ’s Teacher’s Club.

The Forum is being organised as part of the youth movement’s current national drug and alcohol awareness campaign called NARC. (Not Another Ravaged Community)

The Forum will include a talk on community struggle against drugs, a debate on whether legalisation could assist in tackling the drug epidemic, the launch of a short film, and workshops on drug and alcohol awareness.

Among the contributor’s to the National Youth Forum on Drugs will be Councillor Larry O’Toole, a life long community activist who has worked tirelessly on anti drugs campaigns in Dublin, Daniel Jack a community worker from the Clonard area of Belfast who has worked on various community watch and safer neighbourhood schemes that deals with the affects of drugs on a daily basis, and Aengus O’Snodaigh TD who is an energetic Sinn Féin and community campaigner, and also the author of Sinn Féin's document on drugs "Empowering Communities”.

Encouraging attendance at the event, National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan said,

“Drugs and alcohol are a major issue in modern Ireland, in many area’s, especially economically deprived area’s, drugs and alcohol have taken a stranglehold, resulting in broken families, wasted lives and disempowered communities. These are major issues which we as a society need to collectively debate and re-dress.”

“The youth forum on drugs will act as a platform for activists and members of the public to air and debate their opinions on this crucial issue. It will also be an opportunity to learn from experienced community activists who have worked in confronting the plight of drugs.”

“Drugs and alcohol misuse and abuse are a huge problem facing our youth and communities, and it will be a difficult challenge for us to overcome. However republican’s are up for the challenge, and youth forums that bring together many activists can play a positive role in energising and informing activists of the way forward. I would ask that you come along on Saturday and take up the challenge in the campaign for not another ravaged community.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Beijing Olympics 2008

Lee Casey
ÓSF An Lorgain
Baron Pierre de Coubertin

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

These words, of the Olympic creed, are attributed to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. They seem all the more ironic when you consider that the 29th Olympic Games are to be held in Beijing, China.

The Olympic Games are traditionally a world celebration of peace and sporting excellence. However just like in the 1936 Berlin Games, when the International Olympic Committee gave the Games to Hitler’s Nazi Germany, we are yet again faced with a dictatorial, imperialist nation being granted the right to host the Olympics.

Human Rights Campaigners depict the Olympic Rings as handcuffs

If there was an Olympic event for authoritarian state brutality then China would almost certainly get the Gold. According to Amnesty International, China uses the death penalty more than any other country in the world, with around sixty-eight crimes being punishable by death; these include non-violent offences like tax fraud, taking bribes and some drug offences.
China also employs such unjust tactics as censorship and a rampant use of unfair trials in their judicial system to suppress the Chinese people. Human rights activists such as Hu Jia, who has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for nothing more than voicing concerns over police brutality in Beijing (or as the Chinese government called it “inciting subversion of state power”), have been put under house arrest and harassed by the state forces.

Then there is the brutal manner with which the Chinese state forces deal with peaceful protests in Tibet. Are these the condonable actions of a reputable nation which is hosting a well respected International sporting event?

China has forfeited its right to host this event by way of their Imperialist treatment of the people of Tibet and the ruthless way they rule the Chinese people. While the international community feels the need to cosy up to China because of its economic prowess, the Chinese people and the people of Tibet are suffering at the rule of an Iron Fist. Hopefully these games can be used as a stage to show the world the wrongs of the Chinese regime and could see the start of a more democratic, equal and just system for the Chinese people and the people of Tibet.