Friday, November 28, 2008

Who is the most influential female according to you? Máiréad Ní Fhearghail/Mairead Farrell

Tiarna Mc Corry
Ógra Shinn Féin

Bhuel a chairde, let me start my stating that I, as a young activist, am influenced by many females throughout the struggle, not just one. However when I was asked to write this article, the name Mairead Farrell was the only name to bombard my mind.

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there I do not sleep…

Who is Mairead Farrell some non-political friends might ask? And to me, only one answer must be given.

Mairead Farrell is an inspiration to republicans throughout Ireland. In my opinion Mairead, deceased Irish Volunteer for the IRA, puts a face to the term “women in struggle”.

Mairead was born in Belfast to a middle class family, with no link to militant Irish Republicanism, other than her grandfather, who was interned during the Tan War.

It was after meeting Bobby Storey, that Mairead joined the ranks of the Provisional I.R.A. Mairead was probably like many other republicans at that time, in that she witnessed the brutality of British Forces in Ireland and decided she wanted to do something about the conditions she was living in.

In doing so she was imprisoned and experienced conditions far worse than imaginable. She still however played her part on the inside along with comrades Mary Doyle and Mairead Nugent, undergoing many protests.

To me she was an inspiration to not only woman but men also in our struggle for independence. She proved this by returning to active service in 1986 when she was released from Armagh Jail and continued her fight.

Volunteer Mairead Farrell- “I have always believed that we had a legitimate right to take up arms and defend our country and ourselves against the British occupation.”

Why, some might ask do I gain inspiration from her? Well, to me as a young person, I believe that a lot can be learnt from the actions and involvement of Mairead Farrell in our struggle. Throughout her life she showed drive, determination and fight, fight for her country and what she believed in.

She proved that the struggle not only affected men but that women had had enough of interrogation, abuse and discrimination on all grounds. She, like many others, worked for the removal of British forces and did not just wish for it. Today we as young people must continue to do the same.

It is no longer an armed struggle; however young people today must draw inspiration from her, especially young woman and continue in the struggle that remains. I leave you will the inspirational words of Mairead Farrell.

“I am oppressed as a woman, and I'm also oppressed as an Irish person. Everyone in this country is oppressed and yet we can only end our oppression as women if we end the oppression of our nation as a whole. But, I don't think that that alone is enough. This isn't the first time that women have been seen as secondary, but women today have been through so much that they won't just let things be. I hope I'm still alive when the British are driven out. Then the struggle begins anew."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It’s the stupid economy...

Lee Casey
Ógra Shinn Fein

An Lorgain

In AD64 the city of Rome was consumed by a great fire, which according to the historian Tacitus burned for six days and seven nights. And it was while Rome was burning around him, the emperor Nero sang and played his lyre while his citizens perished.

It seems today that history is repeating itself as the main players in the global economy seem content to scratch their heads and look at each other in shocked disbelief as the people suffer from the heat of an intense economic inferno.

The current crisis we are in was both preventable and forewarned. In a 2004 paper, Joshua Gallin an Economist with the US Federal Reserve stated,

“Indeed, one might be tempted to cite the currently low level of the rent-price ratio as a sign that we are in a house-price ‘bubble.’ ’’.

Another Economist at the US Federal Reserve, Edward M. Gramlich urgently warned about the ‘inadequate regulation of sub-prime mortgages’ in the US housing market.

It seems the only people on the news who can forecast anything are the presenters doing the weather, rather than the economists who can only analyze with any expertise what they failed to predict.

In truth world leaders have never really got economics. In the 1980’s Reagan and Thatcher were proponents of so-called ‘trickle down’ economics. This policy was promoted as recently as the US election by the McCain campaign.

This warped idea involves giving tax breaks to the wealthiest businesses and people in society in the expectation that they will spend this money in other ways and thus improve the general economy for everyone. All it did in the end was to make the rich richer and poor poorer.

This idea is one of the most nonsensical and illogical I have ever heard. The mere thought of the wealthiest people in society not contributing any of their fortune, while those who have the least being asked to fork up is both dangerous and deluded.

We have also witnessed in the recent months the nationalization of banks the world over: Northern Rock in the Britain and the Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the US. I would love to have heard the analysis of one Joseph McCarthy, the US Senator who led a communist witch-hunt in 1950’s America and who believed there were communist sympathizers in the federal government. Maybe Joseph was on to something!

The term ‘government bail-out’ has also come to prominence recently. The US congress passed an amended bill allowing $700 billion of tax payer’s money to be used to bail out the banks. Despite the initial rejection of the original bill it was amended and passed with relative ease. What strikes me is that the government is quick to bail out the banks but not speedy at bailing out anyone else.

It’s estimated that $25 billion would significantly wipe out aids for the next generation in the third world, and what about the millions of people in the United States who live in poverty without healthcare and the chance to go to university? Congress should focus on bailing them out before the millionaire bankers.

The truth is there is enough wealth in the world to clothe, educate, shelter and feed every human being no matter where they are. Despite the economic downturn thousand of bombs will still be manufactured and dropped on Iraq and Afghanistan long into the foreseeable future.

Defense spending will be maintained, the majority of the wealth will still be in the hands of an elite minority, and just like Rome everyone else gets burned while the rich just play away.

RIP Art McCaig

The funeral took place in Belfast last week of Paris-based American film-maker Art McCaig who died suddenly in Belfast on Thursday, 6 November. News of Art's sudden death was received with disbelief by his many friends throughout Ireland, especially known in Belfast, Derry and indeed further afield.

Arthur (Art) McCaig, famous for films such as The Patriot Game (1978) and Irish Ways, which challenged the British portrayal of the Irish struggle for freedom, was visiting Belfast, which he considered his hometown, when he died.

His films, particularly The Patriot Game, enraged the British Government as it undermined the premise of the British media’s treatment of the struggle in the Six Counties as an insoluble religious conflict.

Speaking at the graveside Belfast republican Danny Morrison said,

"Art's legacy is the film (patriot game} and the work that he done, the other films he made about Ireland, the Basque Country, sweatshops in the poorer parts of the world, anywhere where people were in struggle, Art planned or wanted to make a film.”

Joe Austin went on to say that,

"At a time when we needed outside help, when this community was beleaguered and oppressed, and it apparently hadn’t hardly had a friend in the world, Art Mc Caig sent the message out with the 'patriot game' and not only did he tour with the patriot game but he spoke on our behalf, he spoke about oppression, he spoke about freedom and aspirations, and he humanised republicans and the people they represented, that was Art, that was what Art mc Caig was all about".

McCaig’s films set the historical and political context of the republican struggle as a struggle for a united, socialist Ireland and exposed the brutality of the British military occupation of Ireland.

His films gave a coherent voice to republicans throughout Ireland and served to highlight the conditions that nationalists faced living under a unionist regime which imposed its will through military might.

Inspirational Films

Not only did Art’s films analyse the roots of Britain’s economic and military oppression and offer a rationale for Republican resistance, from the Civil Rights movement to the IRA military campaign but they presented what the Time Out Film Guide described (speaking about The Patriot Game) as,

“A ‘hidden’ and in many ways inspirational, portrait of life under occupation, of a besieged but organised working class, and of pervasive grassroots resistance”.

Through his film-making, Art courageously presented Ireland’s struggle for freedom from a republican perspective and of the Republican Movement.

Requiem Mass took place on Monday, 17 November, in St Patrick’s Chapel, Donegal Street, Belfast, and was attended by many of Art's friends from right across Ireland, Belfast, Derry, Paris and New York, followed by burial in the Belfast City Cemetery.

Courtesy of Charlie McMenamin

Evident Bias and Censorship in Reporting of the Basque Country

Barry McNally
International Officer
Cuige Uladh Ógra Shinn Féin

I was disappointed at the one sided reporting of the conflict in the Basque country in Wednesdays Irish News. (26th Nov)

Having visited the Basque country on many occasions the reality is somewhat different than was portrayed in the two page spread.

Firstly the pro independence movement in the Basque country are under constant oppression by the Spanish and French authorities-something that escapes the mainstream media. It seems like a blatant bias and censorship that the only time the main stream media report on the Basque Country, is when they are attacking the liberation movement.

In 2007, I attended march in support of Basque Prisoners and their families in Donastia (San Sebastian). There was a large number of Basque police in riot gear and armed present to disperse the crowd.

The march was in support of the over 700 Basque political prisoners and was declared illegal by the Spanish. When the parade reached the police lines, the police opened fire at point blank range.

The Basque police continued to fire indiscriminately into the crowd. The firing by the Basque police continued unopposed for a number of hours in the small streets of Donastia.

I use the above situation as an illustration of the very basic and daily intimidation of the pro independence movement in the Basque country. Needless to say none of this made media headlines or even a brief mention. It seems like a throw back to the 1980s in the north of Ireland.

Having visited the Basque country in more recent times it became clear that these situations were an everyday occurrence in the Basque country.

Yet none of this is reported. Neither is it reported that there are legitimate political parties being banned on a constant basis, youth organisations are declared ‘terrorist organisations’, trade unions are being dissolved, Basque prisoners are being tortured (which have been highlighted in amnesty international reports) and yet the world turns away.

The situation in the Basque country can only be resolved through political engagement. In order for this to evolve, ETA called a cessation of its military campaign in 2006 to allow a peace process to emerge.

However the Spanish were not willing even to facilitate talks towards peace and weren’t interested in negotiation, infact increased repression and arrests. The resumption of the armed campaign by ETA was made inevitable and was not a surprise to anyone even loosely following the Basque conflict.

The draconian measures introduced by the Spanish and French authorities are doomed to fail in the Basque country.

Opening up meaningful talks, developing a democratic process, and respecting the Basque right in working towards national self determination is the only way forward and the Spanish and French should acknowledge this.

We learned in Ireland, that this is the only way to ensure a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Basque Solidarity Night in Belfast: Songs of Struggle

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

Community Activist
Ógra Shinn Féin

The very mention of the economy quite rightly bores people senseless, especially young people.

What self respecting, socialising, teenager is going to know, have an opinion or even care about the economy? The very mention of the word economy or its related jargon is enough for most people to switch off.

If the choice was offered between eating your own fist, and having a debate on the economy, you might find quite a high number of one handed young people the next day.

The economy is about as exciting as an omnibus of ‘Songs of Praise’, and has the desired effect, people, you and I, switch off and let the ‘politicians’ and the ‘economists’ sort it out.

That’s what they want, and we oblige happily. We could never possibly know how to run, or even have an opinion on such complicated, important matters, and as a result the same arseholes are elected into Leinster House year in, year out.

The politics and economics of twiddle dee (FF), and twiddle dum (FG) don’t vary much, and up until now, a blind faith following in Uncle Sam’s neo liberal free market has suited the gombeens just fine. Who care’s about the huge inequality, huge gap between rich and poor, when you can point to a growing number of millionaires, soaring house prices, and big pointy monuments on O’Connell Street. Celtic Tiger, hear me roar…

Only now we have a serious problem, the proverbial bottom has fallen out of old Uncle Sam’s neo liberal bag, and the global economy as we know it, is going down the tubes. And as luck would have it, its biggest Irish advocates, the PD’s have folded, further sounding the death knell of their contrived, selfish ideology.

So, did the so called expert ‘politicians’ and ‘economists’ really have a clue?

Obviously not, and the lesson is that never again, can we the people, allow these gobshites to dictate and control our nations wealth, and our futures, we can and should do it ourselves.

We need to start first by simplifying economics down to a level which all people understand, can start to interpret, and have a say in.

Of course neo liberalism has not ended per say, the struggle to confine it to the dust bin of history will involve a good few kicks from us yet, but it is on its way out, and even the biggest advocates, Brown and Bush, find themselves nationalising banks, even wall street. Ho Chi Minh, Lenin, and Castro could not have done it better.

In Ireland, the burden of the economic collapse will be placed squarely at the door of those most in need. The elderly, children, working class families, and students will face the full assault of budget cuts, undermining and denying the basic needs of people.

Next year’s local and European election will be an opportunity to send a very strong message to Fianna Fail, and all the other advocates of the failed economic system.

We need to mobilise and promote our alternative in a clear, coherent and grounded manner, we need to articulate the changes needed to ensure an egalitarian Ireland, where citizens are cherished on a needs basis regarding education, health and public services.

Sinn Féin has an aspiration in a language that people understand. An Ireland of Equals is a message which the majority of people support, but we need to, in simple terms; let the Irish people know how we will achieve this.

We played a huge role in convincing the Irish electorate to vote for a social Europe, by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty. We can also upset the applecart, and force a reverse on the budget cutbacks, if we massively increase our mandate in the local and European elections. A social Europe needs a social Ireland playing a progressive role in it.

If we are to provide the first class public service we demand, with free health care, free education and adequate public transport and infrastructure, then we should be proud and show conviction in proposing higher taxes, knowing that it will ensure a more egalitarian and fairer Ireland for all of us.

A confident and clear message could inspire the thousands who don’t vote, after years of disillusionment and disempowering by the status quo parties.

We need only look towards Latin America, to Venezuela and Bolivia, of models which have rejected the staid unequal politics of Thatcher and Regan. The nationalisation of natural resources, agrarian land reforms, and fair distribution of wealth, not to mention the establishment of huge numbers of social movements has empowered the populace and greatly improved their quality of life.

The bubble of neo liberalism has bust, and the economy as we knew it, with all the jargon, is going down the tubes. It is down to us, the ordinary working class people on the ground to reclaim our stake in our nation’s future.

In its place, we have the opportunity to build a government and economic system that stands true to the proclamation, it will take time, but let us start to debate and organise now, using next year’s elections as building blocks in a bigger project.

We have an opportunity and I am utterly convinced we will succeed, as Connolly said,

“Our demands most moderate are, we only want the earth!”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Leonard Peltier and Obama - New Hope?

Daithi Byrne

Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner and member of the American Indian Movement. In 1977 he was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two FBI Agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the trial was a total farce.

In 1999, Amnesty International called for his release from Prison. Leonard will be 33 years imprisoned in February. He is 64 years of age and in bad health.

American dirty tactics where as common as ever in this case, torturing and tormenting a mentally ill "witness" to get what they wanted and fabricating evidence, all the hallmarks of a farce.

Leonard has not been forgotten throughout the years, and he now has renewed hope of freedom with the election of Barack Obama, someone he hopes is more informed and supportive of civil rights and related issues, at least more than the murdering Bush.

America still has racism, still has discrimination, from housing to education as well as a detention centre for Muslims, hardly a showcase of democracy.

In his latest letter to the outside world, Leonard speaks out about Black people still suffering from discrimination. It is probably because of this and the knowledge that Obama grew up with and was influenced by the Black Civil Rights, that he has this new hope.

The question is, how far will Obama go to reverse what Bush and his cronies have done? Will he bring about change or will he be influenced by aging conservatives? And will he free innocent people like Leonard Peltier, and heal the wounds inflicted upon him and his native american people?

As internationalists we should inform ourselves and be a step ahead of the increasing US media presence that promotes the imperialist "democracy".

"I truly believe the truth will set me free, but it will also signify a symbolic break from America's undeclared war on indigenous peoples." – Leonard Peltier

Recent letter from Leonard

More Info:

Fidel Always Knows Best…

On September 7, 2000, in an address to the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York, then President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, foretold the collapse of the world's financial system, a collapse currently unfolding before our eyes.

He said that the virtual economy created by speculation would implode "within a fairly short period of time". He was, of course, derided at the time, not least by Irish politicians who showed their contempt by staying away from the session entirely. Pity, he was right, they were wrong.

The Irish ministers who missed the speech, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister Brian Cowan, returned from the summit only to follow their neo-liberal ideological masters in Washington in cranking up the liberalisation of credit, further inflating the economic bubble that Castro had spoken of.

Cuba did the opposite.

Within 12 months of Castro's speech the Cuban Central Bank had divested itself of all foreign currency holdings denominated in US dollars in preparation for the impending collapse of the dollar.

As a result of these divergent approaches, the Cuban people will survive the collapse, their society intact. Others will not be so lucky.

Non-Cubans will have to hope that the "new world political and economic order" that President Castro spoke of will eventually emerge from the ashes of the current chaos, an order which will, for the first time, regard them as sovereign citizens who's interests need to be safeguarded by their elected government, not sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered in the interests global capitalism.

Here is an extract of the relevant part of Fidel's speech:
The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century
"There is no longer a real economy. There is a virtual economy. World exports total somewhere over six trillion dollars a year. However, everyone knows that 1.5 trillion dollars are involved in currency speculation operations, following the elimination of the gold standard in 1971, precisely at the time when the United States' gold reserves had dropped from the initial 30 billion dollars to just 10 billion. With those 30 billion, it was able to maintain stability buying gold when there was a surplus and selling gold when there was a deficit.
Everyone knows that, but in 1971, after so many hundreds of billions of tax free dollars had been spent in the Vietnam War, Nixon simply made the unilateral decision, without consulting anyone, to eliminate the gold standard for the U.S. dollar. This led to instability in all currencies. De Gaulle was opposed to this; of course, he was opposed because he knew what would follow: the unleashing of speculation. Today, 1.5 trillion dollars are involved in currency speculation operations every day, in addition to another 1.5 trillion in speculation with all sorts of stocks and shares. This has absolutely nothing to do with a real economy.
For example, some stock markets have turned 1000 dollars into 800,000 dollars in a period of just eight years. This is more of a perception, something in the realm of imagination, based on prospects even if the companies involved register losses. A colossal virtual economy has been created. An enormous bubble has been inflated and one day it will burst. This is absolutely inevitable. Then, we will be faced with the major crisis that might help to create a new world political and economic order.
Meanwhile, we can build awareness, delve more deeply into these problems and spread ideas like all those that have been expressed here. Because everything that has been said here and many other ideas should be disseminated. We cannot be pessimistic.
I am convinced that this will happen within a fairly short period of time."

New Education/Training Section on OSF.IE

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire
Oifigeach Oideachas ÓSF

''Organise, educate, and agitate'' - James Connolly

This was the political philosophy of one of our nations foremost republicans and socialists. This philosophy remains as central to our struggle as ever. But while we in Ógra can justifiably claim to be well organised and regularly agitating, there is much work to be done in educating and training our activists. The new education/training section of the website is intended to help to remedy that.

The main point to education and training our activists is essentially to create better activists.

The more knowledgeable republican youth is, the better we can counter the arguments of the conservative ruling classes, and the better the republican movement is renewed by intelligent and progressive young representatives and activists, at all levels.

On the other hand if we fail to inform ourselves and improve our activism, then the movement will suffer, and will struggle to maintain its relevance.

What will be posted here will be break downs on Sinn Féin Policy on a whole range of issues, articles of interest, regular updates on materials of interest and youtube clips. But this is only intended to be a starting point. Ógra activists should endeavor as best they can to keep reading the newspapers, keep an eye on current affairs programmes, read widely on political and social issues, and most importantly be open to new ideas - the attitude you take to activism is key.

Question the perceived wisdom and challenge consensus, within and without the movement; offer a credible alternative, and an answer to the criticisms of our detractors.

Have the courage of your convictions and act on your beliefs and opinions.

If you wish to receive these documents straight to your email, or if you have any opinions or queries of any nature, please do not hesitate to contact me at:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Batt O’Keefe opposed at Trinity over Education Cuts

The recent visit to Trinity College by Minister for Education in the 26 counties Batt O'Keefe was opposed by students within the college.

150 students turned out, including Sinn Féin and Ógra activists to tell the minister that his plans to re-introduce third level students fees were not welcome in spite of draconian security measures that saw some students that had turned out to protest from other colleges around the city ejected from campus by college security.

Trinity Uí Chadhain/ Tone cumann secretary Seamus Donnelly said,

“The under investment in all levels of education and in particular the third level sector during the boom years has left the sector badly exposed now during the bust. The under spend is now affecting students directly with numerous college departments reportedly being asked to make cut backs of up to 5 %.”

“Students should not be made to pay for the government's incompetence. The message that education is a right must be given to government ministers and indeed to backbench TDs in their constituencies.”

“Last Thursday Trinity students and members of the Uí Chadhain/Tone cumann gave the minister the welcome he deserved. The arrogant response of this government and the minister in particular following the budget (where college registration fees rose to €1500) should be remembered by the electorate when they next cast their ballot.”

Unionism Anything but United

You Know Yourself..

So it appears there is movement. It seems, at last, the DUP have realised that Republicans are not going to be driven from the table and that the issues important to our community must be dealt with. Well, this is true at least with relation to Policing and Justice.

But is there a real change, or is it simply that the strategy of Sinn Féin has brought the DUP over the line?

The answer is for everyone to judge, but who can’t see the turmoil political unionism is now in. Where is the united party Paisley once flaunted against everyone? It seems without the once commanding figure of Dr Demagogue, the DUP don’t know how to function.

Robinson is in poll position, but he’s looking over his shoulder at Mr Dodds, at good old party-jumper Jeffery, the Most Cultural Minister in Ireland Gregory Campbell (and vice-chairperson of the Westminster, Rangers Supporters Club!) and who can forget the Queen of Inequality and “first lady”…yeah right… his lady wife and regular thorn in his side, Iris. Really not knowing, what they’re going to say or do next!

And who can forget our old “friend” Ian Óg. What of this once important unionist, political visionary?? Clearly put in his place since Daddy has been ushered, surely not pushed, to one side.

But perhaps the most terrifying of all for Peter, is the ever outspoken, loose cannon they call Allister. Jim Allister and his new baby, the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), put the fear of God into the DUP leadership, whatever that leadership is. The chief scaremongers of the past 30 years are now being scare mongered themselves, by one of their own.

Let’s hope Robinson is going to deliver on the agreements made. And let’s hope he can bring those sections of Unionism who don’t realise, to accept that the Fenians are here and they’re in Government.

The DUP can claim victory for the latest round of negotiation if they wish, but I think the turmoil they are in shows the truth. The reality is Sinn Féin forced their hand, not the opposite. Whatever of the PR, Unionism has moved on a principle the DUP said not so long ago, they wouldn’t let happen.

Change is afoot.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moilligh Síos (Slow Down) This Christmas!

Ógra Shinn Féin National Organiser Barry McColgan has called upon young people in particular to take caution on the roads in the run up and over the Christmas period.

According to Mr. McColgan the Christmas and New Year period are peak times for road traffic collisions.

Speaking on the issue National Organiser of the republican youth organisation, Barry McColgan said,

“The issue of fatal road traffic collisions is a huge blight in Ireland. With a huge number of fatalities and casualties on our roads we must urge caution.”

“Ogra Shinn Fein has pro-actively campaigned for road safety measures across Ireland, and has leafleted extensively, erected road signs, and hosted public vigils to raise awareness around the major issue of road safety.”

“The Christmas and New Year period is a dangerous time on the road with bad weather particularly icy roads, an increase in traffic and many young people having a long school holiday. So I would urge parents, drivers and indeed young people themselves to be mindful of the added risk factor.”

“I would also urge those who are socialising over the Christmas period to leave the car at home if they plan to drink alcohol. I would urge people who have consumed alcohol not to drive and avail of public transport, or a taxi as alternatives to taking the car.”

“We re-iterate our demand for a comprehensive all-Ireland Road Safety Strategy. Road carnage is the second biggest killer of young people in Ireland, this statistic is deeply worrying and we believe that a major measure in dealing with this is by a comprehensive all-Ireland Road Safety Strategy.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Newcastle Republican Youth Weekend – From Prisons to Politics!

Ógra Shinn Féin An Cáislean Nua have organised a republican youth weekend focusing on the prison struggle and its relevance to today. The event is taking place in the County Down seaside town from 9th-11th January ‘09.

The action packed weekend, which is open to everyone, will include a number of talks with ex-prisoners and MLA's, a demilitarisation protest at Ballykinler British Army Barracks, a youth debate and a historical tour, tracing local republican history including narrow water.

Urging maximum attendance, Newcastle Ógra Shinn Féin chairperson Fra Cochrane said,

“The Newcastle Republican Youth Weekend is a first for this newly formed cumann. The weekend will include both educational and social events, and we would urge all interested youth from across the 32 counties to come along and join in the debate and craic.”

“Throughout the weekend we will have an opportunity hear how the prison struggle, compares and contrasts to our modern struggle, and to learn from the vast experience of our former political prisoners.”

“Newcastle Ógra Shinn Féin are delighted to be organising this republican youth event, and we look forward to hosting our traveling comrades and engaging with the young people of Down.”

Bígí Linn!

If you are interested in attending the weekend please contact Newcastle Ógra Shinn Féin on 07783453986 or by email on

Ulster University Cumainn Dublin Trip - Come along!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stoop Down Low Party Opportunists

Fra Cochrane
Ógra Shinn Féin
An Caisleán Nua

Over the past weeks and months some political opportunists have taken it upon themselves to send in letters of criticism about Sinn Féin and the political stalemate which has been ongoing.

It is unfortunate that instead of welcoming the fact that the DUP and Sinn Féin were working together to deal with outstanding issues that these individuals chose to try and paint a picture of failure to the public.

Anyone who knows anything about the divide among our community knows that there will always be disagreements, there will always be debate and there will always be controversy.

When Sinn Féin and the DUP went into government together no one said it would be easy, no one said that it would be all sweetness and light.

It seems the SDLP are criticizing Sinn Féin for standing up to the DUP and others, and for not becoming the Stoop Down Low Party that has defined them.

Sinn Féin has once again shown the SDLP how it is done, and how a mandatory coalition government works.

Yes it may be a bumpy road sometimes, but it is has the potential to be an effective government which can work through problems.

To republicans, involvement in Stormont is part of our All Ireland Agenda, and it’s an important vehicle to popularise our demand for Irish Unity in advance of a border poll. But it is not our only vehicle, and we are efficient negotiators, because we have confidence that the Assembly is only one theatre of struggle.

Recent times have just been another example of the SDLP and the UUP sitting on the sidelines attempting to blacken the names of the other parties and squirm their way back into government.

Isn't it time these people put more effort into doing good work themselves instead of criticizing the good work of others?

Clare Ógra Shinn Féin Confident for the Future

In November last year, a number of young republicans from across Clare organised themselves and formed an Ógra Shinn Féin cumann.

From their formation they have proactively campaigned on a broad range of issues, and where extremely active in opposing the Lisbon Treaty.

Clare Ógra activists have also played key roles in the development of the local Sinn Féin and neighbouring University of Limerick with Séan Hayes contesting the next local elections, and Alan Spencer chairing the college cumann.

The Ógra cumann recently met with the National Organiser of Ógra, Barry McColgan where they set out a clear recruitment and education strategy, and a desire to step up campaigning on issues relevant to Irish and particularly Clare’s youth.

Clare Ógra Shinn Féin chairperson Aishling Talty speaking, said that republicanism and Ógra Shinn Féin had a bright future in Clare,

“Clare has a strong republican history and despite only an emerging party presence in recent years, we received huge electoral backing in both the previous European and General Election. This is no doubt down to the youthful vibrancy of the party, and our fresh message of an ‘Ireland of Equals’.”

“Ógra Shinn Féin has played and will continue to play a key role in developing a republican voice in County Clare. In the time ahead we will step up recruitment, education and campaigning, to broaden our activist and support base, and with an eye to next year’s election, where we are confident of further growth.”

“Clare Ógra Shinn Féin is on the move, join with us in shaping an egalitarian and free Ireland.”

You can contact or join Ógra Shinn Féin Clare by contacting them on 0857649421, by email, or on their bebo page -

Belfast Basque Solidarity Committee calls for case against Inaki de Juana Chaos to be dropped

The Belfast Basque Solidarity Committee has called for the case brought aagainst a Basque living in Belfast, Inaki de Juana Chaos to be dropped. The case brought by the Spanish prosecution service to see Inaki de Juana Chaos be returned to Spain saw Mr de Juana Chaos appear in a Belfast Court yesterday.

Speaking as spokesperson for the group, Kevin Morrison, said:

"The case against Inaki de Juana Chaos is a embarrassing one for the Spanish prosecution to be perusing. Inaki de Juana Chaos has been living openly in both Belfast and Dublin for over four months now and has made himself available to Irish police, the Spanish authorities in the embassy and now in a court in Belfast. These actions highlight that Inaki is a man who has little to hide.

"The entire case is indicative of the repression and control the Spanish government exert in the Basque Country. Day and daily show trials with similar spurious charges are brought against countless individuals and groups. The outcomes are that political parties are banned, human rights and social organisations are closed along with newspapers, magazines and radio stations. This is happening on our doorstep in an EU country.

"The Spanish authorities need to reassess their insistence in pursuing the extradition of Inaki de Juana Chaos. They have constantly abused the basic civil liberties of people inside and outside the Basque Country and this case will draw further attention to that fact."

Women in Struggle Interview - Tiarna McCorry

Gemma McKenna
Gender Equality Officer
Uladh Ógra Shinn Féin

To continue the women in struggle interviews, I sat down with Tiarna McCorry, Culture Officer for Lurgan Ógra Shinn Féin, and asked her a few questions on her motivations, experience and activism.

If anyone would like to suggest someone for an interview, or just make a general observation, please leave a comment. Go raibh maith agat.

How did you get interested in politics?

From a young age I took an interest in local political affairs and this was largely because of British presence throughout my area. I grew up in a predominant nationalist estate in Lurgan and on many occasions, although I was barely six or seven, I witnessed the brutality of British forces in and around my estate. I then, as an inquisitive young person began my quest for answers, turning to family recollections and experiences. As I gained a better understanding to events and history in Ireland it is then when politics played some part in my life.

Were you involved in politics before getting involved in Ógra?

I was not involved in any other political group before Ógra but I was however very interested in politics and attended many historical and political events organised by Sinn Féin.

How did you find out or know about Ógra Shinn Fein?

I found out about Ógra Shinn Féin, by attending various Sinn Féin functions and events. Also by a neighbour who is involved within he cumman and of course through the ever-persistent Johnny Mc Gibbon.

Has your interest in politics come your family influence? And How?
No it has developed largely through the evidence of struggle in Ireland and British oppression. But I have to say my family although they did not play a big part, often enlightened me on many events.

What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in Ógra?

I would have a lot more time on my hands that’s for sure but honesty I’d be lost without it JWhat actions have Ógra taken in your area (weekend’s protests etc).

Throughout the Narc campaign we have been going into schools and youth centres and delivering a short slide show presentation on the dangers and effects on alcohol and drugs on our bodies.

We also engaged in the No campaign for the Lisbon Treaty. I have just been elected as the Irish Language officer and will hope to start doing campaigns locally to do with language rights. We also did a vigil just last week for Pol Brennan. Although I love campaigning locally I also enjoy attending national events and I am looking forward to my first national congress.

What do you like most about Ógra Shinn Féin?

Ógra Shinn Féin is not just a political group in my opinion. It is a group where young activists can express views and opinions important to them, where friendships are found and confidence and personalities are developed. It is a great way for young people to interact through a subject they all have in common. Most of all I feel Ógra has helped bring about change in many towns and this I feel is a change for the better.

Have you any major achievements within Ógra or things that you will remember for a long time to come?

Culture and Gaeilge Officer for Ográ An Lorgain ;)
What do you enjoy doing outside of Politics?
I enjoy playing Gaelic Football for my local club, playing in North Armagh Republican Flute Band, socialising with friends at the weekends and of course ag labhairt gaeilge.
How do you think you make politics relevant to young people and what are the major pressing issues for young people?

It is becoming increasingly difficult to make young people realise how relevant politics is to them and how much it actually affects there daily lives. But I think Ogra in general with the A.R.IS.E campaign, the good work surrounding suicide prevention and now N.A.R.C. we are definitely speak directly to young people and issues that they are concerned with.

Quick fire Round

Favourite Food:

Favourite Drink:
Lucozade Sport

Favourite Music / Artist:
I’m in to all music like R’n’B, charts and Irish Republican artists

Favourite songs :
All songs nearly, my favourite of all time but is, Only Our Rivers Run Free by Eire Óg

Favourite Films:

Favourite Book:
Ten Men Dead

Favourite Holiday resort:

Person most influential in your life:
I am influenced by many people, not just one. All those who have worked and continue to work to meet our objectives and the objectives of all other nations in the same predicament as ourselves.

Person you would like to meet (living)
Nelson Mandela

Person you would like to meet (deceased)
Martin Luther King

If you were president of Ireland or Taoiseach what 3 things would you do to change Ireland?

Lower university fees for students

Ensure equality for Irish language speakers and give more opportunities for people to learn and speak the language.

Ensure there is equality throughout this island.

Wishing Councillor Ruairí McHugh all the Best!

Eunan Carlin
Vol. James 'Josie' Connolly Cumann OSF

Last Tuesday night, in the Chamber of Strabane District council, Ruairí Mc Hugh, son of the late Cllr Charlie Mc Hugh was co-opted to the seat left vacant following the untimely and tragic death of his father.

There was mass speculation over the prospect of a by election in the Derg electoral area. This had been sparked by Unionist claims they would contest the seat.

The unopposed co-option is a positive conclusion, in what has been a sombre and difficult time for Sinn Fein in Strabane Comhairle Ceantair, having also lost party stalwart and Civil Rights leader Cllr Ivan Barr earlier in the year.

As family, comrades and friends sat in the public gallery, Ruairi was invited to take his seat by Cllr Jarlath Mc Nulty, Sinn Féin Council Chairperson. In his opening speech as Councillor for the people of Castlederg, Cllr Mc Hugh said,

''I am committed to giving my all, on behalf of the people of the Derg, regardless of colour, class or creed.''

''There have been major improvements in community relations in Castlederg in recent times. This has not come about by accident, it has come about because representatives from both sides have sat down and talked and long may this dialogue continue to flourish so as to ensure a better future for everyone in the area and particularly our young people.''
The cumann members of Castlederg Ógra Shinn Féin wish Ruairí all the best in his new role as Councillor Mc Hugh and know that he will do his best for the people of our town.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

“Tackling Economic Crisis.”

The newly formed Cumann of UL Sinn Féin has recently held its first public meeting entitled “Tackling the economic crisis.” The meeting was addressed by James Monaghan who gave a detailed account of various issues ranging from the inherent failures of neo-liberalism to the effects of the continuous pushing of the free market on third world states by entities such as the E.U. and U.S. to the effects of the Thatcher-Regan style economics on the agricultural and light industry sector in Ireland and beyond.

The meeting was chaired by UL Sinn Féin activist Orlagh McCauley who ensured that a lively debate was allowed to develop.

Speaking from the Campus UL Sinn Féin Chairman Alan Spencer said; “The meeting was a great success and we were genuinely delighted with the experience and knowledge we’ve gained from it. James Monaghan was greeted quite warmly and he left us all far better educated on the current economic situation. We are looking forward to holding many more such meetings in the future.”

First Black US President - Lessons for Irish Republicans

Community Activist
Ógra Shinn Féin

I intend to write a number of articles relating to the election of Barack Obama, looking and commenting on different aspects of his social and foreign policies, but to begin I would like to explore what it means for the US, the world and for us as Irish Republicans, that the US electorate have mandated a Black President.

The votes have been cast, all 130 million of them, and the result has been announced!

Barack Obama, of Kenyan and Irish descent has been elected as the first Black President of the United States of America.

An absolutely groundbreaking and momentous result for a nation which was founded on slavery and racism.

Change indeed has come and over 40 years on from the electrifying emotive speeches of Martin Luther King, the million man marches, and hard fought struggle of the Black Civil Rights, a major tenet of that has been achieved, equal access and opportunity.

For a nation founded on racial bigotry, which grew rich from the degradation of a race of people through slavery, which wrongfully imprisoned thousands of Black Americans and murdered many more, the election of Barack Obama has indeed changed things utterly.

When I think of the African American treatment in the US, it is horrific and depressing, yet always resilient and ultimately inspirational. I think of Frederick Douglas, and Rosa Parks, I think of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, of Huey P Newton and Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, and Rodney King.

All are figures synonymous with the Black struggle against institutionalised racism, all repressed, some imprisoned, others murdered, they represent the Black American struggle for equality and all have played a part in ensuring that a new dawn has risen, not only in the USA, but also across the world.

A Black American now holds the top position in the USA, a Black American is now the most influential and most powerful person in the world, and if Barack Obama can be a President for all Americans, then he can challenge all the stupid ignorance that fostered racism in the US for so long. By demonstrating strong leadership for all, Barack Obama can suffocate the remaining vestiges of white supremacy that have choked US politics and its society from its foundation.

Of course Barack needs to ensure that the inequality that black and ethnic working class communities in the US have suffered are remedied, his strong forward looking message of change and demonstrating to the white community that the black people will never do what was done unto them, silences and marginalises the neo Nazi’s, the conservative bigots that have consumed America with fear and racism for too long.

I believe Barack Obama’s Presidency will have a positive impact for the US at home and abroad, and I think there will be many lessons and opportunities for Irish Republicans.

Not to mention Barack’s Irish ancestry in County Offaly (poor man), his Irish American Vice President, Joe Biden, and their courting of the Irish Diaspora, which are strong indicators that the US will have a clearer and positive focus on the Irish Peace Process, but equally as important to us will be the manner in which Obama conducts his Presidency and the lessons we can take from it.

I believe that the same misplaced, ill informed fears that white American’s had of a Black President, are the same that pollutes and consumes the mind of many Unionists, on their thoughts of a Sinn Féin First Minister or Sinn Féin Taoiseach in a United Ireland.

The same narrow minded agenda in the US that said Barack could not be trusted, that he would be a Black President for black people, and would discriminate against the white community, or just the downright racist view that a black man was not up to the job. The same ‘fear’ is floated on even the slightest notion that an Irish Republican would become the first citizen of the north of Ireland, or a United Ireland.

Barack Obama, by demonstrating a desire to lead for all Americans, and a will to overcome and heal past divisions through national reconciliation should be a beacon to the Irish people, green and orange. We should constantly refer to his example.

Sinn Féin has always said that we want to achieve an Ireland of Equals, that we stand by the Proclamation’s vow to ‘cherish all of the children of the nation equally’.

Despite nationalist and catholic subjection to second class citizenship, repression and state murder, we must move forward to an Ireland that is tolerant and respectful of all views and cultures, and attempt in an open and transparent manner to reconcile the ‘differences carefully fostered by an alien government’.

This is a big task, but there are lessons from the Obama campaign, and everyday of his Presidency will throw up more lessons. Barrack Obama’s election as President of the USA is only the beginning of that countries national reconciliation.

While the challenges are huge, if we continue to work for the betterment of all people, taking inspiration from Bobby Sands’ words ‘Our revenge will be the liberation of all!’ then we can achieve our objectives of freedom and equality for all.

Change will come!