Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ógra Shinn Féin Doire call protest in support of Pól Brennan

Ógra Shinn Féin Doire are organising a solidarity protest this Saturday 4 October calling for the immediate release of 1983 Long Kesh Escapee Pól Brennan from Prison in the USA.

The protest which is planned for 2pm this Saturday at Derry’s Millennium Forum will help raise awareness, and bring attention to Pól Brennan who has been imprisoned since January this year.

He was detained at a routine Texan road block after a border guard noticed his work permit had expired. What started of as a misunderstanding over a lapsed work permit has now escalated into an attempt by the US Dept. of Homeland security to deport him labelling Pól a ‘flight risk.’

Already a campaign to free Pól and stop his deportation has picked up pace, with regular protests, an online petition, benefit nights, letter writing and the campaign has secured the support of 3 US Congress men, Peter King, Jim Walsh and Richard Neal.

Urging people to attend the solidarity protest, Derry Ógra activist Adrian Óg Kelly said,

“The ongoing imprisonment, refusal of bail, and threat of deportation of Pól Brennan is an absolute injustice and Irish people, young and old, should be highlighting their anger at this man’s plight.”

“Pól Brennan’s fight for freedom is our fight. We are dedicated to stepping up the campaign in the time ahead. Ógra Shinn Féin support and call for his immediate release, so that he can be re-united with his wife Joanna and we would urge people to come along to our solidarity protest on Saturday to show your support for the campaign.”

Sign the petition at http://gopetition.com/petitions/pol-brennan-stop-deportation and find out more information at www.polbrennan.com

You can also write messages of support to Pól at:

Pól Brennan A88 785 324,

Willacy County Detention Center,
1,800 Industrial Road, Raymondville, TX 78580.
He can only receive letters. No books, no magazines

Ógra Shinn Féin Women's Forum

Gemma McKenna
Uladh Gender Equality Officer
Ógra Shinn Féin

A chairde,

Cúige Uladh Ógra Shinn Féin is hosting a Women's Forum, on Saturday 25th October in the Felons, West Belfast. 12pm -3pm.

This is the first in a series of forums planned by Ógra Uladh, and intends to provide a suitable forum for discussion, debate, training and planning on Gender related issues.

Guest speakers including Eibhlin Glenholmes, head of Sinn Féin's Equality Department, and elected activists will be in attendance.

This forum is open to all activists nationally and is NOT a single gender event.

This is an important event as it gives us all an opportunity to voice our opinions on the issue and together begin to tackle the gender imbalance within our party.

What ever your views are on the issue, come along and make them heard!

No school should facilitate British Army PR exercises

Ógra Shinn Féin’s National Organiser Barry McColgan has condemned what he described as a ‘British Army PR exercise’ at a school in the Twinbrook area of Belfast.

St. Colms School in Twinbrook secretly invited a British Army regiment, the Royal Marines, into the school on Monday 22nd September.

Parents of many of the children who took part in an exercise with the British Army's Royal Marines in St. Colm’s, were horrified to learn of the visit and its secret nature.

Speaking following the incident Ógra National Organiser Barry McColgan said:

"The people of the six counties and indeed the area of Twinbrook have suffered greatly at the hands of the British Army over the last forty years.”

"The British army should not have been invited to this school or indeed any school for a PR opportunity. No amount of spin can change the image of the British Army in Ireland. The brutal track record of the British army in Ireland and abroad speaks for itself. They have left a brutal and bloody legacy the people of Ireland won’t forget. Indeed such brutality continues apace today in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“The British army remains as an occupying force in the north of Ireland and no school should facilitate such PR exercises.”

Acht Gaeilge Anois!!

Senan MacAoidh
Ógra Shinn Féin

Taraigí amach agus léirigí bhur n-éilimh chearta teanga!

Tá an t-am tagtha arís d’Ógra Shinn Féin bheith amuigh ar shráideann Bhéal Feirste ag tacú leis an éileamh, comh measartha sin, go léirítear meas d’ár dteanga dhúchais trí reachtaíocht a chosnaíonn í agus a lucht labhartha.

Come out and demonstrate your language rights demands!

The time has come again for Ógra Shinn Féin to be out on the streets of Belfast, supporting the demand, most moderate, that our native language is respected through legislation that protects it and its speaking population.

Satharn 11ú Deireadh Fomhair Béal Feirste, Bóthar na bhFál, An Cultúrlann, 11.30 am

Tá muid ag iarraidh go mbaileoidh gníomhaithe Ógra lasmuigh den Chultúrlann ar Bhóthar na bhFál faoi 11.30am. Beidh mórshiúlta tacaíochta ó cheantair dhifriúla agteacht le chéile ag Cearnóg an Bhainc ach ta muid ag iarraidh na daoine as Ógra uilig a bheith le chéile faoin aon bhainnéar amháin taobh amuigh den Chultúrlann ag 11.30am.

Saturday, 11th October, Belfast, Falls Road, The Cultúrlann, 11.30 am

We would like for Ógra activists to meet outside the Cultúrlann on the Falls road at 11.30am. Feeder marches from different parts of the city will meet in Bank Square, Belfast city centre but we want the all the people in Ógra to be together under the one banner outside the Cultúrlann at 11.30 am.

Má bheidh tú ag freasral ar an mhórshiúl, galoigh ar Johnny : 07856496174

If you are going to be attending the march, ring Johnny on : 07856496174

Beirigí Bua!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sinn Féin set Freshers Precedent @ University of Ulster Belfast Campus

Sinn Féin set a precedent today by recruiting in the University of Ulster Belfast Campus on York Street.

They where the only political party in attendance and recruited extensively, continuing a very successful all Ireland fresher’s campaign, which has resulted in record levels of member applicants across all targeted campuses.

Speaking from the UUB campus, Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Lee Casey said,

“We where very pleased with the interest shown today in Belfast UU, and are looking forward to building on the success of freshers fayre. Many student’s where delighted for Sinn Féin to be finally establishing a presence on their campus, and shared many ideas for campaigns in the coming year.”

“The precedent has been set this year, and we look forward to building a strong republican presence in the UUB campus, ensuring that student rights are fought for and protected. The presence of Sinn Fein today and the interest shown is further evidence of the growth of the party, and the relevance it holds amongst young people and students.”

End of Capitalism?

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire
Oifigeach Oideachas
Ógra Shinn Féin

These last few weeks, we have seen an absolute sea change in the financial markets. The nationalisation of Annie Mac and Fannie Mae in the U.S., of Northern Rock in Britain, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers; all these things have collectively illustrated that everything has changed. All the old certainties are gone. From a leftist point of view, one is tempted to feel a certain degree of satisfaction at this complete and utter failure of the free market.

But such satisfaction would be misplaced. As always, the worker will be asked to prop up the banks, as there is realistically, little other option. Difficult times are ahead for us all. But draw comfort from this.

There is now the gap there for a new politics to emerge. This is an opportunity for Sinn Féin, and it’s like worldwide, to put forward its economic vision with confidence. This is an opportunity which must be grasped. Because if nothing else, then at least this last month has finally nailed the myth that capitalism works.

These are the opinions of a diverse group of Socialist figures, about what this crash means, and whats its effects on the left will be. Please leave a comment or two, let us know what your thoughts on this crisis are.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit
Student leader in Student Movement in Paris 1968

This financial crisis is for capitalist neo-liberals what Chernobyl was for the nuclear lobby. It's a catastrophe. I hope we all learn lessons from it. But am I optimistic that we will? That's another question. To think that the biggest neo-liberal nation in the world would start nationalising banks ... we're rubbing our eyes in disbelief.

It's not the end of capitalism because capitalism has always had the intelligence to reform itself. It will be the end of capitalism when it's incapable of reforming. However, the belief that the market is god is over.

It must now be regulated.

We fought for 20 years to bring attention to climate change. It took us a while, but we were right. This crisis will help us in our arguments for sustainable development - that we need a balance between the environment, society and the economy - but I get no joy from it; it saddens me deeply. Ordinary people lose everything, while the big bankers themselves walk away with millions.

Jarvis Cocker
Singer with the band Pulp, and now in his own right. Well known for his socialist attitudes, best exemplified in the song 'Common People'

It's really nice seeing capitalism getting its comeuppance. It had gone too far: I think most people can understand capitalism when it's about companies that make real products, but when it's about organisations that just make money ... that's abstract capitalism, it's beyond most ordinary people - and I include myself among them. I mean, you see the FTSE index, or whatever, running along the bottom of the TV screen and generally it just doesn't impinge at all on the way you live your life, and then suddenly you're told your life is going to take a nosedive.

Who understands that?

The truly sad thing is that all this is taking place with a so-called Labour government in power, a government that should have the interests of the majority at heart, but has instead played the role of a pimp.

Maybe a bit of a recession will do us some good. A lot of people have been living beyond their means. We've all done it, I've done it: you feel a bit depressed, you go and buy something. People might now actually talk to each other a bit more, make their own entertainment, all those other great northern cliches. The tragedy is that it will be the ordinary people who will bear the brunt. The guys who are responsible may have to sell the yacht.

Salma Yaqoob
Birmingham City councillor Salma Yaqoob is the vice chair of Respect - The Unity Coalition and a Birmingham City Councillor.

This crisis opens up possibilities for alternative economic models as the wheels come off this one, but I'm worried about the immediate social consequences. A leaked report from the Home Office a couple of weeks ago referred to a rise in racism and social tensions. My concern is that we'll now see some ugly racist scapegoating as politicians try to pass the buck.

When the markets were being treated as gods, we were always being promised that there'd be a trickle-down of prosperity. But all that's trickled down has been a greed-is-good philosophy. The consequence is a more unequal, self-centred, crueller Britain. It's important that we should reflect on the kind of society we've become, but also on the kind of society we want to be. Recently, Unicef reported that Britain's children are the unhappiest in Europe, and I think that is not unconnected to an economic climate that forces parents to work longer and longer hours.

We hear a lot of talk about youth and gangs and guns; what we don't talk about are the economic policies that would allow families to nurture each other and make young people feel valued.

The very people for whom it was a sacred othodoxy that there should be no government intervention are now coming to the government on their hands and knees begging for assistance. But what about the government intervening on behalf of ordinary people? Why not do something literally concrete on the ground and start building cheaper social housing? Why not put people at the centre of things?

Ken Livingstone

Former Labour Mayor of London

Sadly, I don't think this will be the end of capitalism. But there is going to have to be a return to a much, much more interventionist state. As a system for the distribution and exchange of goods, you can't beat the market. But the mistake a lot of politicians have made is to think that because the market was good at that, it could be good at everything: it could train workers, create infrastructure, protect the environment, regulate itself. Quite obviously, it can't.

So the real issue is, what sort of international structures do we need to ensure this never happens again? Thatcher and Reagan deregulated massively and let the financial markets do as they liked - and they've turned into one bloody great big rip-off. The good news is, there'll now be a realisation - even George Bush sees this now - that we need international regulatory mechanisms that will ensure, for example, that these people and operations actually pay tax. There'll be a realisation in Britain that while it's certainly useful to host a world financial centre, it has to rest on a solid, genuinely productive real economy. In China now they make things; we've decided we're not interested in that.

Ken Loach
Socialist Film director, best known for the films Kes, Bread and Roses, and particularly in an Irish context, The Wind That Shakes The Barley

This is further evidence, if any were needed, of the fact that the market is not and never can be the answer. (The need to pursue illegal wars is pretty strong evidence too, of course.) You look around the world and you see massive need on the one hand, and massive wealth on the other, and the two never connect. The market is massively inefficient, capitalism is massively unstable and turbulent, and it's insane that we are all bound to this terrible wheel of instability.

The real left is making a lot of noise about this. There'll be a convention of the left during the Labour party conference, all the shades of genuine leftwing opinion, and we'll be hammering all these questions out from a socialist perspective. But if the papers and the broadcasters fail to record it, it's very difficult for these ideas to penetrate the public consciousness. The media just turns a deaf ear; it chooses not to hear it. It's a lot more interested in the careerism of whoever's after Gordon Brown's job.

Will this be a defining moment for the left? It should be, of course but it's very difficult to be optimistic given our history of failure. The war against Iraq was a massive opportunity to create a coherent anti-capitalist movement, to find a real socialist alternative, and we let it slip through our fingers. This is another such opportunity, and we must not let it go.

Michel Onfray
French Philosopher, known for his Social Libertarian Attitudes

Is this the end of capitalism? Absolutely not. The key feature of capitalism is that it's malleable. It has been through antiquity, feudalism, the industrial era, it has worn the guise of fascism and now it's wedding itself to the ecology cause.

After this latest event, it will take on a new form. It is indestructible and works like the Hydra of Lerne, cut off one head and another grows in its place. Is this the end of society's obsession with money and credit? Not at all.

Chris Harman
Socialist Workers Party Of Britain, and author of 'The Fire Last Time'

This is a very, very serious crisis of capitalism: it has been the build-up of private borrowing that has kept the system going, and it's coming unstuck. The whole system is unwinding; the other day we saw the biggest nationalisation in the history of humanity and that still wasn't enough.

Governments don't know what to do, and it's the rest of us who have to live with the consequences. The Labour party is offering no alternative, the Lib Dems are offering no alternative, the Conservatives are offering no alternative.

This could be a big moment for the left. But we really need to stand up and use the 'c' word, say this is a crisis of capitalism and that people are suffering. The thing is, all the media coverage yesterday was of the bankers leaving Lehman Brothers with their boxes, but the people who will really be hit are the cleaners, the secretaries - what did we see of them? We have to build resistance. Because so far we've only seen the minor problems; people stuck in foreign airports or having a bit of trouble getting a job. Things are going to get much, much worse.

George Monbiot
Green campaigner, Columnist and Leftist Academic

It's only in times of crisis that people are prepared to contemplate taking to the streets. It was noticeable that there were a lot more protests - against road developments, for instance, and against the Criminal Justice Act and other infringements of civil rights - in the wake of the 1991 recession than there were in the mid-90s, when people were feeling richer.

Some people, faced with recession, tend to hunker down, but others confront the government and demand a better deal, and that gives the left hope.

A Keynesian solution along the lines of Roosevelt's New Deal could deliver many of the things that the left is calling for - more public spending, more training and education. I'm particularly interested in the idea of a green new deal, which would employ large numbers of people to insulate homes and carry out major environmental works. Remember that the central plank in the New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed three million people.

It is striking that the left has been slow to capitalise on the situation. There is now a good opportunity to build a common front between trade unions, disillusioned labour voters, greens and people who feel that their economic position is slipping.

Max Keiser
Former broker, now a 'financial activist'and presenter of The Truth About Markets on Resonance FM

This is not a blip. It's extremely significant. We will see a shift in power away from the US, and towards the developing world - to countries such as Brazil and the Gulf states that have commodities to sell, and to China, where the savings ratio is high. We are going to see a new world order. America as a driver of the global economy is finished.

The left has nothing to say about any of this. And because the left has no economic programme, we will see the rise of social unrest. We are already seeing it in the US. The left has no real response to that either.

Tony Benn
Former Labour Minister and Political Writer

I remember the 1930s. What the Depression did then was to stimulate antisemitism. I met Oswald Mosley in 1928 when he was a Labour MP. The next time I met him he was wearing a blackshirt. Where there is fear, there is scapegoating, and that is very dangerous.

Blair and Brown based their politics on a belief in the market: the market answered all your needs and the state had to be kept out. That confidence has now collapsed and New Labour is seen for what it is. You can't, as New Labour believed, nurse capitalism.

I believe a new labour movement will emerge from this with a more realistic sense of how capitalism works. There is a left convention at this year's Labour conference, a sort of parallel conference. This year's Labour conference is the first in my lifetime when you will not be allowed to vote, so the left convention will get a lot of attention. At last, after a period when we've been told to trust the gamblers, there are many relevant ideas emerging on the left.

Lindsey German
Lindsey German is Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition and Left List candidate in this year's London Mayoral election

This growing crisis will mean misery for working people and shows that everything we've been told about the free market has been false. At the same time, it's a big opportunity. Millions of people will be questioning why this has happened, what's wrong with the system, is it 1929 all over again?

The left needs to put forward answers. People have the right to work; we have a housing crisis, so why not employ people to build more houses? We are facing great challenges, but there is also a historic opportunity for the left to remake itself. Capitalism has had its chance and failed; now it's socialism's turn.

Sheila Rowbotham
Sheila Rowbotham is Socialist, Feminist and professor of gender and labour history at Manchester University

In the late 19th century and also in the 1930s, the impact of depression made people begin to question whether the free market and a completely unfettered form of capitalism was the best form of organising society. In both periods it encouraged on the left the idea of a complete social transformation through revolution, and also encouraged people to devise various schemes for social reform.

The problem now - unlike in the 1880s, when people discovered the ideas of socialism, and in the 1930s, when it seemed that communism was the solution - is that the left doesn't have a coherent alternative vision.

The Labour party has always been ambiguous about whether it is trying to make capitalism more efficient, or whether it is trying to soften its harshness. Since the 1970s, the left has been much weakened, as neoliberal ideas became totally ascendent. Under Blair, the idea that the Labour party was committed to any redistribution was pushed to the sidelines. I would like to see a new kind of left - a left that would relate to the present predicament.

There is a consensus forming that says an unregulated financial system is a disaster, but whether that new left can be formed is questionable. I'd be very glad to see it happen.

George Galloway
Controversial Respect MP for Bethnal And Bow Green

I think the end of capitalism will be a process, not a single event. But each event we've seen so far has gone deeper than people have predicted, and we don't know how deep this one will go. It could well be that it marks the collapse of at least a major section of the capitalist economy: the financialisation of the economy that has been powering ahead since the deregulation and neo-liberalisation of the Thatcher-Reagan years.

As far as the left is concerned, well, the Liberal Democrats have effectively moved to the right in the face of this week's events, and New Labour, with a few honourable exceptions, abandoned that territory a very long time ago.

Now I would have thought - in fact, I know - that among the public in general there is a much bigger and a much wider audience for progressive ideas than there has been for some time. But what the left still has to overcome is its inability to speak in a language that ordinary people can understand. And to stop arguing about dead Russians.

Hari Kunzru

I'm in New York right now and the feeling here is quite visibly one of panic. I've just met, quite randomly, three people who were helping their friends clear their desks.

Apparently, 12,000 jobs went, just like that, and Wall Street represents 20% of the city's jobs and something like 90% its tax base. So there's a definite sense here of systemic crisis.

I don't immediately expect to be living in some kind of Mad Max world. But this could be the death knell of the time when we were all singing the beauties of free-market capitalism.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

SEGI condemn French State Terrorism!

Revolutionary Youth Organisation
Euskal Herria

The recent arrests of activists from the left independentist movement in Northern Euskal Herria, demonstrates the war strategy of the French State. The French state is taking its strategy from the Spanish, working hand in hand with the Spanish State in an attempt to end the liberation movement.

Examples of this are all the attacks carried out this week, on Monday, a police operation against a bar called Kalaka in Donobane Garazi where 6 people were arrested. In Baja Navarra; on Tuesday two activists arrested, and finally on Wednesday 14 activists where arrested of the Left independentist movement associated with Batasuna, including a number of searching’s; bars, private houses, and different offices.

It is the first step of the French State beginning the process of outlawing Batasuna in France.

Recent years has witnessed a surge in support of the movement for independence and socialism in Euskal Herria, in all three Basque territories of the French State.

Different dynamics have ensured a growth in favour of autonomy and decision of Basque citizens to be able to decide their future.

All this has made the French state fear the organisational capacity of the citizens.

Although its objective through the war of assimilation is to oppress our people and force them to end their campaign or even leave, it has become clear that is the opposite is happening, we are accumulating forces in defence of our national and human rights.

In front of this situation, it is clear that the French State have chosen the same strategy as the Spanish State, repression!

They want to wipe out the independence project. Long ago we took the decision to continue fighting and neither the French nor the Spanish hinder us in our desire to fight for a free and socialist Euskal Herria.

The fight is the way!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Recruits flood in @ Freshers in the Rebel County!

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire
Cork Ógra Shinn Féin

Ógra Shinn Féin had a major success at society’s day in Cork, on Wednesday the 24th September. In spite of Ógra Resources being somewhat stretched by the CIT and UCC societies days clashing, both stalls were well staffed and busy throughout.

CIT student Joe Lynch and Ken Ahern, formerly Chair of UCC Martin Hurson, and Sinn Féin candidate for next years local election, collected an impressive number of signatures throughout the day, and found that there was a great deal of interest in the party from the new students.

Hopes are high that Sinn Féin can finally establish a visible leftist and republican presence this year.

Likewise, UCC Martin Hurson cumann, voted UCC's best political and debating society for the last two years running, received in excess of 100 signatures from interested students.

Popular student president, Cal ó Diolúin, took time out to meet with Sinn Féin activists, as with many other societies.

There was plenty of good natured banter on the day too, as Sinn Féin were located opposite Labour and Fianna Fáil, and to the left of Fine Gael.

Following the freshers fayre, the cumann had its first meeting of the year, with CIT also represented.

Paul O' Connor from Cork Sinn Féin gave an introductory talk about where Sinn Féin stands, and the role it plays in Irish Politics. Cllr Jonathan O'Brien spoke about his time and experiences in Ógra, and as a young councillor, and spoke of what role Ógra can play on campus.

There were many new faces at the meeting, from all over Ireland, and indeed from abroad.

UCC SF will hope to build on the success of the last number of years with these new recruits.

Turas go Catalunya

Senan MacAoidh
Ógra Shinn Féin

Fríd 's frid ba chuairt iontach dearfach í go Catalunya. Taobh istigh d'achar ama gearr bhí an deis againne ana chuid a fheiceáil agus bualadh le a lán daoine. I dtus ama a luaithe 's a shroic muid an áit bhi bean de chuid JERC ag fanacht linn ag an aerphort agus thiomáin sí go direach muid le bualadh le Marc Puig agus ansin go dtí an t-óstán. Chonaic muid ar theilifís áitiúil go raibh ócáid JERC fógartha i mBlanes agus roinnt mhaith ama acu ar an teilifís fosta ag labhait faoi phoilitíocht ‘sacu.

Tógadh muid ansin go 'Casa del Poble' nó 'teach na ndaoine' agus bhuail muid le baill de JERC ag cruinniu naisiunta 'sacu, ar nós ár gcruinnithe Chomhairle Náisiunta, seachas in ionad chóras 'sagainne bhi 'runaithe' acu as gach réigiun. Rud suntasach faoin chruinniu ( agus bhi an cruinniu direach thart nuair a shroic muid an áit) ná gur ith siad uilig béile traidisiunta de chuid na Catalóine i ndiaidh an chruinnithe, san áireamh bhí arán crua bán le anlainn trátaí agus ola ológ, chomh maith le sin bhí slisíní feola agus an t-ispín Catalan.

Labhair siad uilig Catalan le chéile an t-am ar fad agus d’inis siad dúinn fa dtaobh de chuid feachtas a bhí ar siúl acu maidir le cur chun cinn na teanga ‘acu, mar shampla rith siad feachtas ag impiú ar dhaoine sa chatalunya cara nó comharsa béal dorais amháin acu a ghlacadh mar mhac léinn agus Catalan a theagsc dó. Mar aon le hÉirinn tá daonra mór inimirceach sa tír, rud nach raibh baill JERC in éadan ach bhí siad criticiúil faoin mheath ar an teanga dhúchais a bhí an t-inimiceas ag cruthú.

Bhí feachtas t-léinte acu ag speagadh daoine chun a dteanga a labhairt leis an mhana ‘Úsáid do Theanga’ agus cartún de lanún ag pógadh. Rud a usáideadh le linn Seachtain na Gaeilge in Éirinn.

Níor insíodh dom féin ná do Dhaithí go raibh orainn óráid a thabhairt os comhair bhaill an pháirtí áiltíuíl ERC go dti gur bhain muid amach Blanes, an baile beag ina raibh muid. É sin ráite tugadh leor tamaill dúinn smaointí a chur le chéile agus dhá oráid measartha fada a ullmhú.

Idir ama bhí deis againn suí le baill de Chomhairle Náisiúnta JERC, cúpla cupán caife a ól agus labhairt faoin phoilitíocht agus eagrú eagraíochtaí. D’inis siad dúinn fán chóras atá acu maidir le airgead a bhailiú ó gach ball acu go míosúil, níl ach 4 euro i gceist agus dá bharr sin, ar ndóighe bíonn ciste na heagraíocht níos mó agus fosta ta siad in ann a rá linn go baileach cé mhéad ball( nó Militants a chuireann siadsan orthu ) atá acu. Mura n-íochann ball trí mhí i ndiaidh a chéille cailleann an té sin a bhallraíocht, agus cailleann sé vóta ag an Ollchruinniú Bliaintiúil. Córas suntasach atá ann agus ceapaimse gur fiú d’Ógra machnamh ar a leitheid de chóras dár n-eagraíocht féin.

D’imigh muid linn go dtí an Casa del Poble aríst agus ansin bhuail mé féin ‘s Daithí le Uachtarán agus le Rúnaí Ginéarál ERC. Rinne ball sinséireach de JERC óráid fhada ar an teilifís agus bhí slua mór áitiúil i láthair ann. I ndiaidh na cainte seo rinne Uachtarán an pháirtí óráid eile mar gheall ar chúrsaí airgeadais Chatalunya agus an plean a bhí ag rialtas na Spáinne cánacha as Catalunya a úsáid i réigiúin eile na Spáinne, rud a bhí sé go láidir in éadan.

Faoin am seo bhí ar mise agus Daithí labhairt, leagadh amach tabla le brat Chatalunya, bhí Pere Aragonés, ionadaí i bparlaimint Chatalunya mar chathaoirleach ann agus rinne fear eile aistriúchán ar bhéarla ‘sagainne. Labhair ar feadh beagnach dhá uair in iomlán, ceisteanna san áireamh agus bhí suim mhór sa lucht féachanna faoi na rudaí a bhí a rá againn. Labhair muid faoi staid phoilitíochta na hÉireann, thuaidh agus theas, an dul chun cinn atá déanta againn agus na dúshláin atá romhainn. Labhair Daithí go príomha faoi forbairtí le déanaí ó thuaidh, agus faoi ról ‘saige i stormont. Labhair mise faoi Ógra, cad a dhéanann muid i bpobail áitiúla agus ar bhonn náisiúnta. Chuir mé i gcomparáid gluaiseacht phoblachtach Éireann agus gluaiseacht phoblachtach Chatalunya, ag iarraidh ceachtanna a aimsiú dúinn bheirt. Luaigh me fosta an streachailt reatha don Ghaeilge in Éirinn, rud a bhí an-bhá acu do.

Mar chuid den Ócáid bhliaintiúil acu i mBlanes, bhí ceolchoirm le bheith ar siúl ach de bharr na droch-aimsire cuireach ar ceal é. Gan mhoill áfach chuaigh muid go baile eile gar dúinn, áit a bhí ceolchoirm rac eile ar siúl agus seastán ag JERC ann clúdaithe le postéir, bratacha agus bainnéir, bhí pub sealadach acu ann agus airgead maith á thuilleadh acu don eagraíocht. Dar leo, déanann siad seo go rialta agus is foinse thabhachtach airigid é dóibh. Insíodh dúinn fosta gur go dtí le déanaí bhí teach tabhairne ceart ag an eagraíocht féin ach dúnadh síos é.

Mar Chonclúid, is dream iontach eagraithe, proifisiúnta iad JERC agus tá cúpla rudaí practiciúla a thig linn chur i bhfeidhm inár n-eagraíocht féin chun í a fheabhsú. Tá go leor le foghlaim againn uathu maidir le eagrú grúpa mór náisiúnta óige ar nós Ógra Shinn Féin. Ag rá sin tá siad bunaithe le breis ‘s 80 bliain agus i bhfad níos baill acu, ach ag foghlaim uathu beidh muid ag dul sa treo ceart.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Future for Ógra Shinn Féin!

Jim Monaghan

Sinn Féin is a party that has been involved in struggle for a long time. A new generation of leadership will eventually be required and it is important that the new leadership does not become comfortable in the political culture of Stormont and Leinster House.

The existing political cultures nicely serve the existing social and economic status quo, and no matter how radical a person is the culture will absorb them in time, unless the culture itself is changed.

The future role of Ógra should be in making sure that the political cultures North and South are changed in ways that are inclusive, dynamic and participative for the ordinary people as well as for political activists.

Politics is too important to leave to an elite group.

It is by developing a culture of discussion among Sinn Féin activists and supporters that we can gather the political strength to achieve our objectives of a united, socialist Ireland.

Ógra have the advantage in this of not being set in the old ways like the rest of us. Ógra must lead these profound changes in Sinn Féin and in Irish society.

It may be that some Ógra members feel they were born too late, all the action is over. That is unlikely to be true.

All the leading scientists tell us the climate is changing, growing warmer in an erratic way. It seems unlikely that the process will be reversed, so we have to prepare for the likely consequences in the next ten or twenty years.

These are that on a world scale food harvests will increasingly suffer from the erratic weather, and fossil fuel prices will rise steeply. ‘The Stern Report’ speaks of a recession on the scale of the ‘The hungry thirties’. Whatever way it goes, recession or not, it will be a time of great change in economic, social and political life all over the world.

Today’s Ógra will be in leadership positions in Sinn Féin, managing that change in Ireland over the next twenty years. In recession, stock markets collapse. Companies close down.

It is vital for the future of the Irish people that the key parts of the economy are ‘recession proofed’ by not being dependant on stock markets.

Water supply, electricity, fuel, transport, food supply, need to be either state run or run by local authorities or as co-operatives so that they will stay open even if there is a severe recession.

This will involve big changes which will be bitterly opposed by vested interests.

This struggle will define Irish politics and indeed world politics.

Ógra faces a huge challenge to bring it off, and secure at the same time a united socialist Ireland!

Magee University Freshers week success -McCartney

Speaking on the success of the Freshers week at Magee University Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said,

"It has been a really good week, and I'm delighted at the amount of young energetic members we have been able to sign up to the Magee society. There are so many campaigns out there to be active on in Derry and nationally, but fees and debt are some of the biggest issue facing students at the moment, and I think it's an issue that can galvanise students right across Ireland."

Speaking from the fresher's fayre, Magee Sinn Féin society chairperson Adrian Óg Kelly said,

"We have had another successful fresher's and will now be focussing on the task at hand, of building a strong active society to help represent the voice of the students in Magee University."

I would like to thank Raymond McCartney who joined us at the fresher's event. With his help we were able to engage with the students and members of other societies and let them know what we are really about"

Republican Dead to be remembered in Strabane on Saturday

Sean Gillespie
Ógra Shinn Féin

The Annual West Tyrone Volunteers Commemoration will be held in Strabane on Saturday 27th September and organisers have called for local people to turn out in large numbers to pay fitting tribute to all local republicans who have laid down their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom.

The people of this area have continually demonstrated their support and respect for our fallen republican dead and I would once again call on people to take the time out and come along and remember with pride the republican dead from this area.

The West Tyrone command of the Irish Republican Army lost many brave volunteers during the course of the war. Their bravery and courage is an inspiration to the present generation of young enthusiastic Republican activists who are following in their footsteps and taking up the cause of Irish freedom in ever increasing numbers.

Ógra Shinn Féin has two active cumann in the west Tyrone area in the towns of Strabane and Castlederg who proudly carry on from where our fallen comrades left off. Along with this we also have ÓSF structures in Omagh, Carrickmore, Loughmacrory and east Tyrone which I think bears testament to the proud Republican tradition in the O’Neill county.

This year’s annual commemoration parade sets off from Ballycolman shops at 5pm on Saturday 27th September. It will make its way over the bridge to Townsend Street where a wreath will be laid at the Hunger Strike Memorial before continuing on its way to the Republican Plot at Strabane Cemetery. Following the paying of tributes, the commemoration will be addressed by guest speaker Donegal Sinn Fein Cllr Pádraig Mc Lochlainn.

Following on from proceedings at the Republican Plot the parade will make its way to Fountain Street Community Centre where tea/coffee and sandwiches will be served and where there will be a special screening of ‘The Gibraltar/ Milltown Martyrs’, a 20th Anniversary Commemorative Documentary.

Strabane Ógra cumann launch

Also on Wednesday 1st October, the Fian Tobias Molloy Ógra Shinn Féin cumann will be launched in Lisnafin community centre Strabane at 7:30pm.

At the launch there will be a ‘Youth in struggle’ DVD showing and a talk will be given by Gerry O’Hara on his role in the ranks of Na Fianna Eireann during the armed struggle.

There will also be presentations from local Ógra activists, and will be a chance for new members to gain information on the organisation, and engage in a question and answer session.

Tea, sandwiches and other refreshments will be available on the night.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UCD says No To Fees!

Last Tuesday the 23rd of September at 1.00, around 300 UCD students came out to rally against the reintroduction of fees proposed by Education Minister Pat O'Keefe, and which had been welcomed by President of UCD Hugh Brady in a national newspaper on Tuesday.

A large number of Ogra Shinn Fein activists participated in the Demo, which drew a good crowd outside the Arts Block of the college. Students held up placards calling stating "Education is a Right, Not a Privelige."

The Demo was addressed by members of the Student's Union in UCD, including Campaigns and Communications Officer Dan O'Neill and President Aodhan O'Dea, who led the chants of the protest.

The Demo was also addressed by President of SIPTU in UCD Kieran Allen, and USI President Shane Kelly, who lambasted Dr.Brady on his support for the re introduction of fees. The Demo culminated in the students chanting outside the Admin Building in the college, and all were left energised and believing that the fightback against fees can be a successful one.

Chair of UCD Ogra Mick Reynolds said:

"It's a very good first step in the fightback against fees but there's a long road ahead, and Ogra Shinn Fein need to at the forefront of this fightback in campuses all across Ireland. The Student's Union in UCD are really putting it up to Hugh Brady and his cronies, and Ogra in UCD will fight every step of the way with them in order to ensure that fees are not brought back to third level education."

Kilkenny '08 - 'Phenomenal Success'

The third annual Republican Youth Weekend in Kilkenny City has been hailed as a 'phenomenal success' by the weekend's organisers. Young Republicans came from right across the country to partake in the weekend organised by ÓSF Proinsias Ó Riain. The theme of this year's weekend was Internationalism and Socialism in the 21st century. Despite this however, the weekend began with a decidedly Irish theme - a talk around the heritage of the pike men of 1798. Wexford man Bill Murray joined the young activists to explain the profound effect the actions of the pike men had during their own time and, in more recent times with the foundation of pike groups in Wexford and across the country. Following Bill's introduction a lively and informative discussion ensued which was a clear sign that the pike men's legacy is still a central part of Irish Republicanism.

The theme of the weekend was clear to be seen during the sessions on Saturday which began with a discussion on Imperialism and Globalisation. Local Sinn Féin member Burlano Mawumbi, spoke to the group detailing how exactly his home country of the Congo had been ravaged by the scourges of Imperialism and Globalisation; the continuing external interference in the running of the Congo, the abuse and foreign exploitation of natural resources for external gain, and the enduring war and suffering of his people. The facts and experiences Burlano shared with the group clearly had a profound affect on the group, and led to a broad discussion around the current state of African politics, and the future for the continent. Following this discussion the group began two workshops dealing with how Ógra Shinn Féin can help the development of the Basque struggle; and how Ógra can, internally and externally further the use of an gaeilge among young people. These two workshops were facilitated by Ógra International officer, Orlagh McCauley, and Oifigeach Cultúrtha, Senan MacAoidh. In all the workshops lasted almost two hours and produced some concrete ideas relating to both topics.

Following a quick lunch an Ógra organised march took place through Kilkenny City, supported by Ed O'Brien RFB and Carrick-on-Suir RFB. Outside Kilkenny Castle Ógra member Ryan Fulton read na Fianna Éireann Roll of Honour, and afterwards speaking entirely in Irish local Ógra organiser, Peadar de Bluit, spoke to the crowd encouraging Republicans to continue onwards and achieve the goal of a democratic Socialist republic, emphasising the need to promote the participation of young people as Republicans aim to achieve that goal, and the need to further promote and speak the Irish language. Afterwards Séamie Davitt of the Ed O'Brien RFB played the last post in honour of na Fianna, followed by Amhrán na bhFiann before marching back to the train station.

After the march the group returned to Andrew Ryan's, where the weekend's discussions were taking place, before the start of the youth debate between; Ógra Shinn Féin, Labour Youth, and the Connolly Youth Movement. Speaking first on behalf of the CYM Gareth Murphy expounding the need to unite working people and engage in a class struggle against capitalism in order to bring about a Socialist state. Patrick Nulty speaking for LY spoke in favour of further co-operation between parties on the left in order to dismantle the strangle-hold conservatives have on Irish politics, and speaking for Ógra Shinn Féin, Senan Mac Aoidh, pressed the need to engage in community politics and bring about real social, political, and economic change from the bottom up. The debate was stimulating and at times heated but by the end all present was agreed on one point: that the status quo was unacceptable and unsustainable and all on the left should work together in the future to dismantle it.

Immediately after the debate Republican activist Dan Connolly, facilitated a discussion around the Vietnam War. Three speakers; Prof. Scott Kauffman, visiting professor of American History in UCD, Sean Edwards and Eddie Glacken, both of whom are members of the Communist Party of Ireland and who were members or the Irish Voice for Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Between the three speakers they gave a very thorough and insightful analysis of the war in both a historical and political context. Having heard the contribution of the speakers, the Ógra members present engaged in a discussion with the speakers with questions ranging from the heritage of the war, the present state of Vietnam, and parallels with the US war in Iraq today. After the discussion the Ógra members attended a Republican function in Kilkenny taking a well earned break after the intensive weekend, before returning home on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking in the aftermath of the weekend local organiser, Peadar de Bluit, expressed his gratitude to all who had attended the event;

"On behalf of ÓSF Proinsias Ó Riain, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who helped make this 3rd Kilkenny Youth weekend a phenomenal success. Many factors played a part during the weekend, the hard work Ógra invested locally in organising the weekend, all those who accommodated us during the weekend, not to mention Ógra comrades who travelled great distances to be with us. I am very pleased with the quality of discussion and debate during the weekend. One of the ways we said beforehand that we would judge the success of the weekend was on the level of the discussion during the weekend and we were certainly happy with that, our only hope now is that those who were here during the weekend will bring back to their local area the information they garnered here and put it into practical application. We in Kilkkenny thoroughly enjoyed this weekend, and hope that all those who attended the weekend didi also, it was in our view by far the best Republican Youth weekend to date and look forward now to Kikenny '09. Mo bhuíochas le gach aoinne a chabharaigh in aon slí i rith na deireadh seachtaine agus thar ceann ÓSF Proinsias Ó Riain tá súil again sibh a fheiceáil arís."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

West Belfast Republican Youth Weekend - Action Packed, Educational and Great Craic!

Roise McGivern
West Belfast
Ógra Shinn Féin

West Belfast Ógra Shinn Féin hosted an action packed weekend of events 19 – 21 September.

The weekend which saw activists travel from across Ireland, was hailed by those in attendance as being very thought provoking and great craic!

The Republican Youth events kicked of on Friday night in McDiarmada’s GAA club on the Falls Road with a ‘Youth in Struggle’ Talk by Republican leader’s Eibhlinn Glenholmes and Bobby Storey.

Both speakers recounted their involvement in the republican struggle, from their earliest youth, and spoke intimately of the many fine comrades they lost along the way, including Bobby Sand’s and Mairead Farrell. They also spoke of the invaluable necessity that an energised youth is to any revolutionary struggle, recounting Na Fianna, the prison struggle, and Ógra today.

Following a very open and robust Q&A, it was very clear how important a role young republican’s have played in Ireland’s liberation struggle, with a lot of our progress being attributed to their determination, selflessness and ingenuity.

Early on Saturday morning, activists had an early start, assembling at 10am at Divis Tower for a political tour of West Belfast.

The tour delivered by Former POW and An Fhirinne spokesperson Robert ‘Dinker’ McClenaghan, traced the beginning of Republicanism in Belfast back to it’s foundation by the United Irishmen at Cavehill in 1791, and brought it up to modern day.

Along the route of the tour, activists had an opportunity to engage with questions on the International wall, the history of the linen mills and associated strikes, cases of collusion and shoot to kill including Sevastopal Street and Pearse Jordan, James Connolly’s time in Belfast, and the republican plot at Milltown.

Following a very interesting and thought provoking tour, and after some lunch, the green post box campaign and all Ireland spirit was kept alive with a number of post boxes changed to their rightful shade of green.

Following a spot of painting that would put ‘An Post’ to shame, activists assembled in Ballymurphy for a march commemorating the 35th Anniversary of Óglach Jim Bryson and Óglach Padraig Mulvenna. The march ended with a passionate oration by Gerry Kelly.

After a very busy day, the weekend culminated at a thronged Whiterock Leisure centre for the launch of the Bryson/Mulvenna 35th Anniversary DVD, which traced the lives and exploits of these two daring and brave son’s of Ireland.

There was many a tear in the hall, as loved ones, family and friend’s spoke personally of the great times they spent with these young men. Of particular poignancy and relevance to the young Ógra activists, was a message from a close comrade who stressed the need for us, the modern day republican youth to continue Jim and Padraig’s fight, ensuring that their ultimate sacrifice was not in vain.

The inspiring DVD, and the stories it told was a fitting end to the weekend, with Sunday being left open for the All Ireland Final.

West Belfast Ógra Shinn Féin where honoured to host our comrades from across Ireland, and engage with local youth, so much so that we are already looking forward to organising for next year.

Beirígí Bua!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Olympic Champions – A Target For Bigots!

Community Activist
Ógra Shinn Féin

The recent degrading treatment of Irish Olympic Boxing Champion Paddy Barnes by a member of the PSNI is a disgrace and is reminiscent of Muhammad Ali’s similar degradation when he returned home from the 1960 Rome Olympics.

A gold medal champion, refused service in a Louisville ‘whites only’ restaurant, because of the colour of his skin, Ali’s response was to angrily throw his gold medal into the Ohio river.

The same supremacy and hatred that was shown towards Muhammad Ali as a young aspiring African American boxer in Louisville, Kentucky in 1960, was demonstrated again in North Belfast last Thursday 11 September when a PSNI officer grabbed Paddy Barnes as he left a local shop.

Paddy a young nationalist who won a bronze medal for Ireland at the Beijing Olympics said that he feared the PSNI member would punch him or use pepper spray, in his own words,

“He said if I raised my hands like that again he would ‘drop’ me. He told me he didn’t care who I was and called me a dickhead. I thought he was going to hit me or pepper-spray me. He seemed really edgy, volatile and definitely was looking for a reaction.”

Paddy who recently lifted the Young Person of the Year award at a ceremony in Dublin was stopped and searched on the ‘supposed’ grounds that he was a suspect in a mobile phone robbery.

That is an absolute disgrace, that a member of the PSNI intentionally harassed and detained this young disciplined boxer who has dedicated his life to sport and is a positive role model to other young people throughout North Belfast and Ireland.

This is a clear attempt to tarnish Paddy’s reputation, and to knock his confidence.

It would appear that the PSNI officer involved in the harassment singled Paddy out, because of his nationalist background, and because his heroic’s in Beijing have inspired and given confidence so many young people in his native North Belfast. He was hitting out at Paddy as a way of hitting out at his community.

Paddy said,

“He must have know who I was because the language he used seemed really directed towards who I was.”

“Many people who know me saw and heard how he was behaving. Some of them explained I was the Olympic boxer. He just sneered at them.”

Paddy will be making a complaint to the PSNI and raising the matter with First Minister Peter Robinson later in the month, showing him exactly how an Olympic champion is treated in his home city.

The disgraceful and disgusting treatment of Paddy Barnes really does hark back to the old supremacy and hatred that Muhammad Ali similarly experienced in America’s Deep South.

The sectarianism and bigotry demonstrated by the PSNI member against Paddy Barnes is totally unacceptable and an example should be made of him to boost confidence in policing and clearly show that the PSNI are moving forward, working for all communities.

There is a need for this disgraceful incident to be positively resolved, and insure that the bigots are dealt with.

Incident’s like this highlight the need for Policing and Justice to be at the fore of our struggle, ensuring that we can achieve the maximum progress, ensuring that bigotry is smashed and harassment like this is resigned to the dustbin of history.

Harassment is aimed at knocking our confidence, making us feel subservient and disempowered, but all it really achieves is maximum resilience and a resolve to progress our struggle, empower our people and smash any remaining vestiges of Unionist bigotry and dominance.

The racists in Louisville, Kentucky could not break the spirit of a young aspiring black boxer, infact it made him more determined to show to the world his athletic prowess. Muhammad Ali became a symbol of hope to the oppressed African American people, and the rights and confidence of his people seemed to rise and be won with his gradual ascent in the boxing world.

The similar bigoted action of a PSNI man in North Belfast last Thursday will not deter Paddy Barnes from his goal of an Olympic Gold medal.

If we stand resolute, with our strategic objectives, determination and with maximum cohesion, we can push further major changes to the PSNI and the North ensuring that when Paddy returns from London 2012 a gold medal champion, the bigotry and harassment he experienced is a thing of the past.

Successful Fresher’s Week in Ogra Shinn Fein UCD, An Cumann McDonagh/Farrell

Ógra Shinn Féin UCD recently had a highly successful Fresher’s Week, with an increase in numbers from 70 to 76 members. New materials and posters were supplied this year which really captured the imagination of new recruits, and a large proportion of those who signed up were first years and female.

College authorities in UCD have in recent years implemented, a schedule that is designed to suppress society participation in the college as much as possible, but political participation in UCD Ogra looks likely to be as active as ever as many new recruits have already shown an interest in active campaigning on the Belfield Campus, particularly in the upcoming fight against fees.

Senior party M.E.P Mary Lou McDonald made a visit to the Fresher’s Tent on Monday to lend a hand to the recruitment drive, and signed up to a number of societies doing good work across campus, including the I.P.A and Mature Students Society. Mary Lou has been a frequent visitor to UCD in recent years and her visit attracted great interest in the Ogra stand.

The first meeting of the Cumann was held on Thursday at 4.00 with many new members in attendance as well as all of this years committee. In a highly energetic meeting, members expressed a keen interest in building on the success of recent years, and looked ready to meet the major challenges ahead during the year, including the campaign to defeat fees and participation in the local and European elections. Social events including the Cumann’s annual trip to the Dail and the Bloody Sunday Commemoration in Derry also aroused interest from new members.

Speaking on the success of the week, chair of the UCD Cumann Mick Reynolds said,

“It has been a really good week, and I’m delighted at the amount of young energetic members we have been able to sign up. There are so many campaigns out there to be active on in UCD and nationally, but fees are the biggest issue facing students at the moment, and I think it’s an issue that can galvanise students and young republicans all across Ireland.

"I’m just really happy with the way the week has gone and the support we’ve had from the senior party, not just in terms of Mary Lou coming out, but in terms of organisation and new materials, it’s just set us up really well for the year and the challenges ahead.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Free the Cuban 5

Orlagh McCauley
Ógra Shinn Féin

September 12th marked the 10th anniversary of the arrests of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González. These five Cuban citizens were living in Miami, Florida to investigate the activities of anti Cuban organizations such as Comandos F4 and Brothers to the Rescue. They were illegally arrested on September 12th 1998 and charged with the use of fake ids, espionage and conspiracy to commit murder.

They were held in solidarity confinement for some time before their trial began in November 2000. The following year Gerardo Hernández was sentenced to two life sentences plus fifteen years; Ramón Labañino to a life sentence plus eighteen years; Antonio Guerrero to life plus ten years; Fernando González to nineteen years and René González to fifteen years. Both René and Gerardo’s wives are denied entry to America and haven’t seen their husbands in eight and ten years.

To mark the 10th anniversary of their arrests a petition of 102,000 signatures from 78 countries was to be handed into the White House. However, during this civil disobedience action five people were arrested.

The petition had three demands; to free the Cuban Five immediately, grant entry visas to Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva, (René and Gerardo’s wives) and to extradite Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela. Posada is a former CIA member personally responsible for the deaths of seventy three passengers on a flight from Barbados to Cuba in 1976. Passengers included the national Cuban Fencing team who had just competed in the Central American and Caribbean Championship and Cuban government officials. In 1997 he planted a bomb in Havana which killed one person and injured a number of people. Posada now lives freely in America despite an extradition order from Venezuala.

Letter to George W. Bush

President George W. Bush The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Cc: Scheduling Office, 20502-0184

Mr. President,

September 12 marks the 10th anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of five men in the United States. The "Cuban Five" - Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, René González, and Fernando González - risked their lives to come to the United States to do what your Administration claims as its highest priority - fight terrorism. In their case, it was terrorism against Cuba, terrorism originating in this country that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Cubans and others, including American citizens, over the past fifty years.

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, in conjunction with more than 300 such committees worldwide, has collected more than 100,000 signatures from Americans and people around the world, demanding the immediate freedom of these five men and an end to their unjust imprisonment. They also demand the immediate granting of visas to Olga Salanueva Arango, wife of Rene Gonzalez, and Adriana Perez O'Connor, wife of Gerardo Hernandez, who have been denied permission by the U.S. government to visit their husbands in prison for 8 and 10 years, respectively, in an outrageous violation of both their legal and human rights.

With this letter, we request a meeting with you or your representatives on Friday, September 12, 2008, to present you with these petitions, and to give voice to the just demands of people around the world for freedom for the Cuban Five.


Alice Walker, author
Howard Zinn, professor
Noam Chomsky, professor, author
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general
Martin Sheen, actor, social justice activist
Heidi Boghosian, executive director, National Lawyers Guild
Gloria La Riva, coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Brian Becker, National Coordinator A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice

Monday, September 15, 2008

Solidarity with Maura Harrington in Strabane/Lifford

Ógra Shinn Féin took to the streets of Strabane and Lifford last Saturday 13th September, to highlight the escalating situation in Rossport County Mayo.

The people of Rossport county Mayo are at present involved in a campaign against a shell, raw gas pipeline that is being forced through their community. The Shell To Sea campaign’s key concerns include the pumping of raw, unprocessed gas from the Corrib gas field, at a dangerous high pressure past the homes and the land belonging to the rural community.

However Shell plans to press ahead with their onshore gas terminal, neglecting environmental, health, safety, planning and economic concerns. The escalation in the protest has seen a local teacher, Maura Harrington go on Hunger Strike. The 4th day of her fast passed on Saturday. Also on Saturday 5 Shell to Sea activists were arrested in County Mayo. It was against this backdrop that Saturdays protest in Strabane and Lifford took place.

Ógra activists first blitzed Strabane town centre with leaflets raising people’s awareness about the ‘Shell To Sea’ campaign and the current Hunger Strike by Maura Harrington.

Protestors then made their way to Lifford Garda Station where they held a protest before handing in a letter of protest outlining their disgust at the behaviour of their colleagues in County Mayo. Following the handing in of the latter Ógra activists held a protest and handing out leaflets to passing motorists on the Lifford Bridge.

Lifford Ógra Shinn Féin activist Dervla Peoples said;

“We are here today with our activists in Strabane and Lifford to raise public awareness of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Rossport. Between Strabane and Lifford today we have distributed hundreds of leaflets, and engaged with the public on the issue. We also delivered a letter of protest to the sergeant at Lifford Garda station, we hope that members of An Garda Síochána who disagree with the heavy handed tactics of their colleagues in Mayo will speak out about it within their own ranks and with the Irish government. However experience has shown that there are many in the ranks of the guards who will be all to willing to attack peaceful protesters in Co Mayo.”

“We in Ógra Shinn Féin support the demands of the Shell to Sea campaign, and we salute the bravery of the activists involved in particular, Maura Harrington Who is currently engaged in a hunger-strike.”

The following is a copy of the letter that ÓSF delivered to Lifford Gardaí.

To whom it may concern;

With regard to the Shell Corrib gas pipeline project currently underway in northwest Mayo,we the undersigned would ask that all members of An Garda Síochána in the Lifford area take time to read this letter and reflect on the issues involved.

Ógra Shinn Féin are opposed to this disastrous project and we believe that the manner in which the Irish government are using the Gardaí (and the Irish navy) to defend the oil giants interests is a national disgrace.

The despicable and sickening manner in which the Gardaí are being deployed to crush opposition to this pipeline project, is a cause for growing concern among our organisation, and among right thinking people nationally and internationally. Protestors at the Shell compound in Rossport have been met with the now familiar scenes of Garda violence, harassment, intimidation and arrest. This is political policing at its worst, the fact that the state’s police force can be deployed en masse to brutally facilitate the capitalist interests of multi-national companies is very worrying indeed.

Last month the Gardaí released figures showing that, €11million has been spent policing the project since 2006 – more than half the amount your force spent fighting organised crime. With this in mind we conclude that the Gardaí are working for Shell and not the Irish people.

We are calling on all members of An Garda Síochána who are not involved in policing the Corrib gas project, and who disagree with the way in which the force is being used for political ends, to voice your concerns with your superior officers and with the Irish government itself.

Furthermore, Shell To Sea campaigner Maura Harrington is currently on Hunger-strike in opposition to the pipe laying operation, and unless more people speak out, we fear this woman could die. Those who stay silent within the Gardaí are morally responsible for a lot of what is going on at this controversial project.

We hope you take time to examine this issue.

Strabane/Lifford Ógra Shinn Féin

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mobilise For Drogheda Hungerstrike Rally

A chairde,

Last year, Drogheda Ógra Shinn Féin took part for the first time in the annual Hunger Strike commemorative march held in Drogheda.

We were supported by a large number of Ógra activists, who came from all parts of the country to honour our martyrs.

This year’s commemoration will be held on Sunday 14th September, assembling in Drogheda at 2:30pm.

We have been asked by the march organiser, to once again invite our young activists to come to Drogheda on the day and to take part in this march. This year's guest speaker will be Jim Monaghan.

Afterwards there will be refreshments served.

Any further information required can be obtained from Ross at (+353) 0857303642 or Alan at (+353) 0857396995.

Le meas,

ÓSF Droichead Átha