Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The protest in Belfast was just one of many solidarity events taking place across Ireland and the world, and the republican youth movement joined with the IPSC, and trade union activists to send a clear message of disgust and opposition to this barbaric inhumanity and war crime.
Sinn Féin MLA’s Jennifer McCann, Sue Ramsey and Caral Ni Chuilin where also in attendance to show their solidarity with the oppressed and brutalised Palestinians.
National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan speaking at the protest said,
“Ógra Shinn Féin attended today’s protest to call for an immediate end to the brutality directed at the Palestinians, we condemn the Israeli government for their savagery and murderous actions which have killed over 300 and injured over 2000, including women and children.”
“The brutal actions of Israel must be condemned outright across the world, and pressure must be exerted on the International community to ensure that Israel is brought to justice for these callous war crimes.”
As well as holding banners and posters, activists distributed leaflets to raise awareness of the ongoing plight of the remaining IRA prisoners.
Speaking on the protest, Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Oisin Dolan said,
“It is important that we continue to remember our prisoners, and get active in calling for their immediate release. Actions have not only taken place in our Capital, but also across Ireland, and huge awareness has been raised through these co-ordinated protests, leaflet drops, talks, and videos.”
Monday, December 22, 2008
This weekend Ógra Shinn Féin in Lurgan hosted a discussion on Prison Protests and Politics, featuring two prominent republicans from the area and the local Ógra Shinn Féin cumann. Former republican POWs Brendan Curran and Leo Green talked about their experiences in Long Kesh, during the 1970s and 80s. Brendan spoke of his experience in the "Cages", while Leo outlined the change in British policy in the H-Blocks, and the historic blanket and Hunger Strike protests.
Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Fergal Connolly said,
"We have began to host these discussions as a continuation of our discussion groups, formed over the summer. Ógra Shinn Féin recognise the need for discussion around our past and our present. It was very beneficial to talk with Brendan and Leo, both former POWs. Both give an interesting account of their time in prison. Brendan explaining what it was like actually having the status the protesting prisoners sought, and Leo talking about his time on Hunger Strike."
"As both men pointed out, there is a huge importance in making the prison protests more than just a historic event. They must be relevant today, and we must learn whatever lessons we can from that time in our history."
Ógra Shinn Féin will be hosting a Republican Youth Weekend titled "From Prisons to Politics" in Newcastle, Co. Down; 9-11 January 2009.
For more info contact :- firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, December 18, 2008
An Ógra Shinn Féin delegation visited Castlerea jail within the past week. The visit was a part of the annual Republican prisoner’s month. Whilst a delegation visited the jail members of Ógra Shinn Féin were engaging in protests, white line pickets and candlelit vigils for our imprisoned comrades in streets and town centres nationwide.
Speaking on behalf of the Ógra delegation to visit Castlerea Ógra activist Barry McNally said
“We were visiting the prisoners today for a number of reasons. However we were here foremost to show our continued support for our imprisoned comrades and extend our solidarity at this hard time of the year for political prisoners.
“In terms of the prisoners we have visited today it is clear that these men should be free. The men are imprisoned due to political actions which had taken place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The Dublin government have failed in living up to their commitments in the GFA in relation to prisoners as they have done in a number of other aspects of that agreement.
“When the IRA called an end the armed campaign in 2005 these men should have been freed. There is absolutely no need for the continued imprisonment of these men. Ógra Shinn Féin will continue to campaign for their freedom and also for the abolition of so called criminal records for republican POWs involved the armed conflict in Ireland.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The weekend of action took place 12 - 14 December right across Ireland, and actions ranged from, leaflet drops to public talks, protests and information stalls.
Watch the short film, and pass on to highlight the plight of IRA prisoners of war who should have been released.
Lets ensure they don't have to endure another christmas in prison, away from their families.
The republican youth movement said that they received a great response from the public, and will keep up solidarity actions for the prisoners who should be released.
Senan MacAoidh, spokesperson for the group said,
“Our thoughts are with the prisoners and their families this December as they face a lonely Christmas apart. We highlighted this to the hundreds of shoppers, and highlighted the fact that these men should have been released, not least because the IRA ended its armed campaign over 3 years ago.”
“This is but one of many actions taking place throughout Ireland, and we will keep up the awareness raising and building solidarity for IRA prisoners at home and our international comrades imprisoned abroad.”
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Ógra Shinn Féin say that 3 years following the ending of the IRA armed campaign all excuses have been removed for the two governments to continue their imprisonment of IRA POWs.
“It is totally unacceptable that three years on from the IRA’s declaration of an end to the armed campaign we still have men in prison for their role in that political conflict.
“Throughout the weekend we have been active in our opposition to the continued imprisonment of our comrades at the behest of the Dublin and London governments. As well as actions happening in Omagh and Strabane there are numerous events happening nationwide stretching from Co Cork to Co Derry. At these protests we once again call for the release of our political prisoners.”
“We are now 10 years on from the signing of the Good Friday agreement which had provision for the early release of political prisoners; it is completely unacceptable that IRA political prisoners remain incarcerated given this. Until these prisoners walk free we in Ógra Shinn Féin will continue to campaign and agitate for their release.”
The message was clear to be seen around the picturesque seaside town, as the republican youth movement had been busy postering the night before, with messages of solidarity to the POWs.
Speaking on the weekend of action for IRA prisoners, Newcastle Ógra spokesperson Jamie Kelly said,
“The message is clear on the walls of Newcastle ‘Free all IRA Prisoners’, with dozens of posters across the town. The combination of the posters and the information stall on the Saturday has attracted a lot of positive support with many people shocked to learn that there are still IRA prisoners, 10 years after the Good Friday Agreement and 3 years following the ending of their armed campaign.”
“Many signed the petition calling for the IRA POWs immediate release and hundreds of leaflets where handed out highlighting the plight of our prisoners, and also bringing attention to cases like the Miami 5, Leonard Peltier, and the Basque prisoners.”
Speaking on this Aoife Mc Naught Chairperson of Ógra Shinn Féin Doire said,
"Christmas is the time of year when we traditionally remember all those imprisoned for their political beliefs . Ógra Shinn Fein held a number of vigils in the city centre on Saturday afternoon calling for their release."
"Christmas time is a time for families to spend time together as a joyful occasion but unfortunately some families will not have their joyous experiences this Christmas because their loved ones are being interned. This time of year can be seen as a lonely time and for these families it truly will be as their family members are laying in a cold cell with no family Christmas dinner, no presents and no bright decorated tree.”
It is Ógra Shinn Féin’s firm belief that all excuses have been removed, which prevents the release of IRA prisoners. It is totally unacceptable that three years on from the IRA’s declaration of an end to the armed campaign we still have men in prison for their role in that political conflict.
“We held a successful vigil on Lifford bridge this evening reiterating our call for the release of all IRA prisoners, and highlighting the hypocrisy of both the British and Irish governments on this issue. Hundreds of information leaflets were handed out to passing motorists with many sounding their horns in support.”
“While we remember our political prisoners this Christmas, we also reaffirm our solidarity with people all over the world who are incarcerated for their political beliefs, such as Leonard Peltier, the Miami Five, and over 700 Basque POWs held by the Spanish and French governments.”
“It is unacceptable ten years on from the signing of this international agreement that these men are still in jail. We in Ógra Shinn Féin call for their immediate release and will continue to campaign until all IRA prisoners are free!”
Ógra activists gathered in Lurgan over the weekend to distribute information leaflets, as part of Ógra Shinn Féin's Weekend of Action for Political Prisoners.
The Ógra Cumann in Lurgan leafleted local areas highlighting the plight of remaining republican prisoners in Ireland, as well as international comrades in the Basque Country. A particular focus was also put on the ongoing battle of Long Kesh escapee Pól Brennan in the USA.
Ógra spokesperson Sinead McCausland said,
"This weekend we wanted to highlight the fact that in 2008 there are still political prisoners around the world. Despite the past 10 years of peace there are still Republican prisoners and this is not acceptable. The Irish Government must fullfill their Good Friday Agreement responsibilities."
"We also wanted to show our support for those imprisoned in the Basque Country and for Pól Brennan in the United States. December is traditionally Prisoner's Month for Republicans, and Ógra Shinn Féin remember all those who are imprisoned for their role in struggles across the world."
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Oifigeach Oideachas ÓSF
The recent launch of the Educate that you might be free campaign by ÓSF invokes a famous quotation by the young Irelander Thomas Davis. The following is the essay from which this quote derives. The essay deals with the importance of the establishment of a national education system, and much of it is relevent only to its time. However, much of it is as relevent as ever. With the advent of reduced teacher numbers and of third level fees now upon us, the quote that 'It was the interest of our ruler to keep us ignorant, that we might be weak' is particularly striking. I would therefore ask all activists to read the essay, and consider their own thoughts on the role of education in society and its importance.
Thomas Davis (1814-45)
Influences of Education
‘Educate that you might be free.’
We are most anxious to get the quiet strong-minded people who are scattered through the country to see the force of this great truth; and we, therefore, ask them to listen soberly to us for a few minutes, and when they have done to think and talk again and again over what we say.
If Ireland had all the elements of a nation, she might, and surely would, at once assume the forms of one, and proclaim her independence. Wherein does she now differ from Prussia? She has a strong and compact territory, girt by the sea; Prussia's lands are open and flat, and flung loosely through Europe, without mountain or river, breed, or tongue, to bound them. Ireland has a military population equal to the recruitment of, and a produce able to pay, a first-rate army. Her harbours, her soil, and her fisheries are not surpassed in Europe.
Wherein, we ask again, does Ireland now differ from Prussia? Why can Prussia wave her flag among the proudest in Europe, while Ireland is a farm?
It is not in the name of a kingdom, nor in the formalities of independence. We could assume them to-morrow—we could assume them with better warrants from history and nature than Prussia holds; but the result of such assumption would perchance be a miserable defeat.
The difference is in Knowledge. Were the offices of Prussia abolished to-morrow—her colleges and schools levelled—her troops disarmed and disbanded, she would within six months regain her whole civil and military institutions. Ireland has been struggling for years, and may have to struggle many more, to acquire liberty to form institutions.
Whence is the difference? Knowledge!
The Prussians could, at a week's notice, have their central offices at full work in any village in the kingdom, so exactly known are their statistics, and so general is official skill. Minds make administration—all the desks, and ledgers, and powers of Downing Street or the Castle would be handed in vain to the ignorants of any untaught district in Ireland. The Prussians could open their collegiate classes and their professional and elementary schools as fast as the order therefor, from any authority recognised by the People, reached town after town—we can hardly in ten years get a few schools open for our people, craving for knowledge as they are. The Prussians could re-arm their glorious militia in a month, and re-organise it in three days; for the mechanical arts are very generally known, military science is familiar to most of the wealthier men, discipline and a soldier's skill are universal. If we had been offered arms to defend Ireland by Lord Heytesbury, as the Volunteers were by Lord Buckinghamshire, we would have had to seek for officers and drill-sergeants—though probably we could more rapidly advance in arms than anything else, from the military taste and aptness for war of the Irish people.
Would it not be better for us to be like the Prussians than as we are—better to have religious squabbles unknown, education universal, the People fed, and clad, and housed, and independent as becomes men; the army patriotic and strong; the public offices ably administered; the nation honoured and powerful? Are not these to be desired and sought by Protestant and Catholic? Are not these things to be done, if we are good and brave men? And is it not plain, from what we have said, that the reason for our not being all that Prussia is, and something more, is ignorance—want of civil and military and general knowledge amongst all classes?
This ignorance has not been our fault, but our misfortune. It was the interest of our ruler to keep us ignorant, that we might be weak; and she did —first, by laws prohibiting education; then, by refusing any provision for it; next, by perverting it into an engine of bigotry; and now, by giving it in a stunted, partial, anti-national way. Practice is the great teacher, and the possession of independence is the natural and best way for a People to learn all that pertains to freedom and happiness. Our greatest voluntary efforts, aided by the amplest provincial institutions, would teach us less in a century than we would learn in five years of Liberty.
In insisting on education, we do not argue against the value of immediate independence. That would be our best teacher. An Irish Government and a national ambition would be to our minds as soft rains and rich sun to a growing crop. But we insist on education for the People, whether we get it from the Government or give it to them ourselves, as a round-about, and, yet, the only means of getting strength enough to gain freedom.
Do our readers understand this? Is what we have said clear to you, reader!—whether you are a shopkeeper or a lawyer, a farmer or a doctor? If not, read it over again, for it is your own fault if it be not clear. If you now know our meaning, you must feel that it is your duty to your family and to yourself, to your country and to God, to act upon it, to go and remove some of that ignorance which makes you and your neighbours weak, and therefore makes Ireland a poor province.
All of us have much to learn, but some of us have much to teach.
To those who, from superior energy and ability, can teach the People, we now address ourselves.
We have often before, and shall often again repeat, that the majority of our population can neither read nor write, and therefore that from the small minority must come those fitted to be of any civil or military use beyond the lowest rank. The People may be and are honest, brave, and intelligent; but a man could as well dig with his hands, as govern, or teach, or lead without the elements of Knowledge.
This, however, is a defect which time and the National Schools must cure; and the duty of the class to which we speak is to urge the establishment of such Schools, the attendance of the children at them, and occasionally to observe and report, either directly or through the Press, whether the admirable rules of the Board are attended to. In most cases, too, the expenditure of a pound note and a little time and advice would give the children of a school that instruction in national history and in statistics so shamefully omitted by the Board. Reader! will you do this?
Then of the three hundred Repeal Reading-rooms we know that some, and fear that many are ill-managed, have few or no books, and are mere gossiping-rooms. Such a room is useless; such a room is a disgrace to its members and their educated neighbours. The expense having been gone to of getting a room, it only remains for the members to establish fixed rules, and they will be supplied with the Association Reports (political reading enough for them), and it will be the plain duty of the Repeal Wardens to bring to such a room the newspapers supplied by the Association. If such a body continue and give proofs of being in earnest, the Repeal Association will aid it by gifts of books, maps, &c., and thus a library, the centre of knowledge and nursery of useful and strong minds, will be made in that district. So miserably off is the country for books, that we have it before us, on some authority, that there are ten counties in Ireland without a single bookseller in them. We blush for the fact; it is a disgrace to us; but we must have no lying or flinching. There is the hard fact; let us face it like men who are able for a difficulty—not as children putting their heads under the clothes when there is danger. Reader! cannot you do something to remedy this great, this disabling misery of Ireland? Will you not now try to get up a Repeal Reading-room, and when one is established, get for it good rules, books from the Association, and make it a centre of thought and power? These are but some of the ways in which such service can be done by the more, for the less, educated. They have other duties often pointed out by us. They can sustain and advance the different societies for promoting agriculture, manufactures, art, and literature, in Dublin and the country. They can set on foot, and guide the establishment of Temperance Bands and Mechanics' Institutes, and Mutual Instruction Societies. They can give advice and facilities for improvement to young men of promise; and they can make their circles studious, refined, and ambitious, instead of being, like too many in Ireland—ignorant, coarse, and lazy. The cheapness of books is now such, that even Irish poverty is no excuse for Irish ignorance—that ignorance which prostrates us before England. We must help ourselves, and therefore we must educate ourselves.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Along with members of Cork Sinn Féin the Ógra activists handed out leaflets detailing the status of the remaining I.R.A. prisoners and of Pól Brennan.
The activists handed out a good number of leaflets, and were happy with the response they got. This is merely one of a number of actions from Ógra nationally on this issue, keep watching the blogspot for further updates.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Cllr McGibbon said,
“Ógra Shinn Féin was disappointed to hear the result of Pól’s deportation case. We have been campaigning over the last number of months for Pól’s release, so he could fight his case fairly. In the end he was refused the opportunity to remain free during the period of his case.”
“Pól has lived openly in the US for over 20 years. He has made his life there. We believe he should be allowed to remain. He should be granted political asylum, and allowed to get on with his life.”
“Ógra Shinn Féin will continue to support Pól and his family, in whatever decisions he makes over the time ahead.”
“Last week in Cork, the Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress passed a motion calling for an end to the deportation and in solidarity with Pól and his family. We will continue in our attempts to bring focus on to Pól’s case especially in the next few days, as we mobilize across Ireland for a weekend of action in solidarity with IRA POW’s and our imprisoned international comrades.”
An Lorgain Ógra Chairperson Lee Casey commented,
"It is not acceptable that over 10 years since the Good Friday Agreement, and over 3 years since the formal ending of the armed campaign by the IRA, there are still republican prisoners. In 1998 the Irish Government made commitments in the Good Friday Agreement. Despite this they have refused to live up to the Agreement. Fianna Fáil need to wake up to reality and release remaining political prisoners."
"We will also be campaigning this weekend, and beyond, for the release of detainee Pól Brennan. Pól will have the full support of Ógra Shinn Féin in his battle for political asylum in the USA. We also send solidarity and remember our imprisoned comrades in the Basque Country, elsewhere across the world."
Watch ograshinnfein.blogspot.com for updates this weekend!
Gender Equality Officer
Cuige Uladh Ógra Shinn Féin
To continue our series of Women in Struggle interviews, I have sat down with Derry Ógra Chairperson Aoife McNaught.
If you would like to suggest someone for an interview contact myself at email@example.com; or leave a comment.
How did you get interested in politics?
I have always had a keen interest in Irish history and politics since secondary school but i started to take more of an interest in politics over a year ago, when I first joined Tóirsire republican youth; we then Re-Organised and in October 2007 when we became an Ógra Shinn Féin Cumann.
How did you find out or know about Ógra Shinn Fein?
Ógra Shinn Féin doire have been involved in many things
such as :
Hosting Republican Youth Weekends
Helping to organise marches
Ogranising fundrasing events
What I like most about Ógra is that it is a group where young republicans can come together to meet and disscus issues that are relevant to young pepole and are society; and to take action no matter how small it is i.e handing out leaflets, protests or petitions.
I also like the weekends that Ógra organise because it gives a chance for all Ógra members from around Ireland to meet up, and build comradery and friendships.
One of the major achievements that Ógra Shinn Féin Doire acomplished, was organising and leading the National Hunger Strike Rally. We organised a weekend of events and Ógra members throughout Ireland came to take part. It was a great privilige.
What do you enjoy doing outside of Politics?
I enjoy lots of things such as meeting up with friends, shopping, going to the pictures and socialising at the weekend.
Highlighting issues that are relvant to youths such as budget cuts to are education, university fees, sucide prevention, alchol and drugs, housing and job prospects e.t.c
Who has been a role model for you politically ?
There have been many role modles, Mairead Farrel, Ethel Lynch, and Martina Anderson
Favourite Music / Artist:
irish rebel music
Favourite songs :
willy n danny
george n pop
pinks- so what
in the name of the father
save the last dance
nor meakly serve my time
cecila aherns p.s. i love you
Favourite Holiday resort:
Person most influential in your life:
Person you would like to meet (living)
Person you would like to meet (deceased)
If you were president of Ireland or Taoiseach what 3 things would you do to change Ireland?
more money to be put into are education system
more invested in to improving are helath system
better job opportunites
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It was with these inspirational words in mind that the Tobias Molloy cumann Ógra Shinn Féin An Srath Bán, recently launched their reinvigorated local recruitment drive. This initiative was launched this week as the cumann unveiled a new recruitment mural in Strabane town centre, which activists have been working hard on this past month.
Speaking at the mural unveiling, Strabane ÓSF recruitment officer Malachy Quigg outlined their plans for this latest recruitment initiative;
“As we launch this mural here tonight in Strabane we aim to rally the young people of this area behind the cause of Irish Republicanism. This is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at building Ógra Shinn Féin in the Strabane district. Already there are plans in place to compile a DVD tracing the history of Republican youth locally, and a Strabane Ógra Shinn Féin newsletter which we hope will be a useful tool in promoting the message of Ógra and for party building in general.”
“2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Na Fianna, a historic event which has unprecedented relevance for today’s republican youth. Ógra will be active this coming year commemorating the sacrifice of the young Fianna activists, and promoting the ideals which our past generation of republican youth struggled so hard to achieve.”
“December is a well know time when we particularly think of our prisoners and show solidarity with them, today there are prisoners in jail in the 6 counties and 26 counties who should have been released following the ending of the IRA’s armed campaign, we also remember our comrades who are in jail in the Basque country from SEGI, The Miami Five who are imprisoned in America as well as Leonard Peltier, and all our other comrades who have been imprisoned internationally.”
“The protest which drew a lot of attention on campus also drew the attention of the security, who harassed and tried to cancel the peaceful protest, but we carried on regardless, and their petty actions did not take the feeling of solidarity away from the event.”
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sinn Féin President
Go raibh maith agaibh as an seal le bheith ag labhairt libh inniu, ag comhdháil Ógra Shinn Féin agus tá fáilte romhaibh uilig anseo fosta.
These are exciting political times globally and nationally. The first African American President has been elected in the United States. The peace process and all-Ireland agenda are transforming society and we are on the countdown to the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
The political climate is changing rapidly and I firmly believe that we are closer than at any time in our history to achieving Irish re-unification. Next week marks the 90th Anniversary of the Sinn Féin landslide in the 1918 election.
That election shook the British and Irish establishments to their core. It marked the beginning of the end of British rule in part of the country. It was a demonstration of the power of politics and the power of harnessing people from every corner of the island demanding change.
That is the template for this party. It means ensuring a Sinn Féin voice in every elected body on this island. It means an Ógra Cumann in every third level college. It means an Ógra presence on every internet forum, blog and social networking site possible. It means Ógra Shinn Féin being in the lead on campaigns on Irish unity and against education cuts and making Irish Republicanism relevant to young people across the island in this changing world.
And equally importantly it means you as future leaders of this party making your voices heard as we move forward.
Caithfidh daoine óga na tire seo an seal a glacadh chun ceachtanna a thabhairt do polaiteórirí ar fud an oileáin. Sibh a bhfuil mar ceannasaíocht an phairtí sa todhchaí.
On January 21st Sinn Féin is holding a major event in the Round Room of the Mansion House to mark the 90th anniversary of An Ceád Dáil.
I want to encourage all of you to attend. It is important that we mark this occasion. It is important that we debate the politics of the Proclamation and the Democratic Programme. And more importantly we need to make Irish unity a reality.
For several weeks now the Taoiseach has been meeting with EU leaders to outline to them the government’s roadmap in relation to the Lisbon Treaty.
It is worth nothing that the discussions have been about their plans to overturn the peoples’ verdict on the Lisbon Treaty at the behest of the EU’s political establishment.
It is quite astounding that EU leaders, officials, ambassadors all now know the Irish governments plan but the electorate has yet to be told.
There are obvious reasons for this.
The Fianna Fáil and Green Party government does not agree with the people in relation to the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
They have not sought to have the Treaty re-negotiated but have spent the last six months trying to find a way around it.
This morning briefings in the media suggest that the government intends to re-run the Lisbon Treaty in October 2009 on the basis of promises about guarantees that a small number of issues could be dealt with in a future treaty.
This is totally unacceptable. The Lisbon Treaty was rejected by the Irish people because it is a bad deal for Ireland. It needs to be re-negotiated to definitively address issues like neutrality, sovereignty over taxation, public services and workers rights. It needs be about maintaining Ireland’s political strength in the EU.
How the Irish government and EU leaders deal with this issue will be watched carefully by tens of millions of people across the EU who has deep concerns about the direction that an elite within EU institutions are trying to take.
Building a prosperous and equal economy
The government’s mishandling of these issues is mirrored by their mishandling of the economy.
Is léir dúinn uilig, go háirithe daoine óga agus seándaoine nach bhfuil suim da laghad sa rialtais sna rudaí is tabhachtaí is é sin oideachas agus cúram sláinte.
Though the international credit crunch and subsequent global downturn is a major factor in the current economic crisis, the Irish government’s mismanagement of the economy, particularly during the boom years, has left the 26 Counties more vulnerable to the global economic crisis than other states.
Instead of dealing with this crisis properly the government rushed through a totally unjust budget attacking school children, the elderly and working families.
And then instead of taking responsibility for their actions they are blaming the ordinary people of this country and telling them to stop living beyond their means.
The fact is that the level of inequality here is almost as bad as it was in the mid-1980s and hundreds of thousands of families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.
Over the last few weeks more than a hundred thousand people have taken to the streets to protest at the government’s savage cuts.
The farmers, the teachers, the elderly and the students have all made their voices heard. I want to commend all of the young people in Ógra Shinn Féin and in SF cumann in colleges for the involvement in the anti-cuts campaign. You need to be taking the lead in your communities and in your colleges and take this campaign to the gates of government buildings.
Today in Dublin thousands of parents and teachers have taken to the streets as they did in Cork two weeks ago calling for education cuts to be reversed.
The government is under pressure because the decisions they have taken are fundamentally unjust.
They promised not to attack frontline health and education services in the budget. But that is exactly what they did.
The first people to suffer as a result of their ineptitude are those who can cope the least.
I know that there are serious challenges facing the economy but I firmly believe that these challenges can be overcome.
The government needs to put in place a three year job creation strategy to get people back into the workforce, there needs to be investment in infrastructure so that competitiveness can be improved, there needs to be support for small businesses who are suffering as a result of the crisis in banking and there needs to be radical action to address the serious shortfall in public finances.
Now is the time to invest in schools and housing.
Now is the time to ensure that it is those who can afford the most pay the most.
Now is the time for innovation and imagination.
But to bring this about will require change. And young people have a duty to help bring change about.
We often hear from the establishment media and parties that young people are uninterested in politics, that they don’t vote. In other words lip service can be paid to their needs. This is nonsense. Young people may not be interested in the stale politics served up by establishment parties but young people are interested in politics and the way it impacts not just on them but on the environment and society we live in.
Whether it has been campaigning against the invasion and occupation of Iraq, or demanding action on climate change, or standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people – young Irish people have stepped forward and will continue to do so. This needs to intensify in the time ahead.
Look at the impact young first time voters had in the US election. Barack Obama offered a new vision – a vision of changed America. It resonated with young people across the States. It motivated them to register. It motivated them to stand for hours in queues and it motivated them to vote. For the first time many saw the power of the vote and they became agents of change.
All of us here are agents of change in Ireland. But we are not yet big enough. I have no doubt there are countless young people out there today who would have wanted to be here. They are not here because they do not know this event is happening. We have not opened an avenue to them to become involved – and that takes us to the very core of what needs to happen. Bobby Sands famously said that ‘Everyone had a part to play’.
There are more Republicans on this island today that at any time in our history. We need to turn these republicans into activists. Ógra needs to meet next year in a hall twice this size and its needs filled to the rafters.
More activists, means more activism, it means more shoulders to the wheel and it means shortening the road to the republic.
Young people have always been central to the republican struggle. This year marks the centenary of the formation of Na Fianna Éireann by Countess Markievicz and I know you have planned a series of commemorative events.
But in 2009 you have to find your place in this struggle. You have to assert your view. You have to lead.
Next year we are facing into local and EU elections. We will be the only Irish political party fighting seats in all 32 counties. These are important elections.
Ógra have an important role to play. Ógra need to present to young people with an Irish Republican vision which appeals – which is relevant – which is rational and which can work. It was Brian Keenan who said that wish lists are for Christmas – he was right – what Ógra need to do is take the vision for a New Ireland – for the Ireland we all want to live in – and then put together a programme which takes young people there. It is that edge which will make our politics appeal.
Positive change is never inevitable. Apartheid didn’t end because it was wrong. It ended because people strategized and organized and worked for that objective.
Partition will not end because it is wrong. It will end because people strategise and organize and work to end it. The changes which are required to bring about tax justice or fairness or democracy in the economies of this state or across the island will not happen if it is left to the conservative parties.
Equality will only be secured by the development of relevant commonsense alternatives to what passes for politics at this time.
That is alternatives which are relevant and credible to people – their daily lives.
That is our responsibility to make republicanism relevant in modern Ireland.
Lánaigí libh agus beirigí bua!
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Ógra Shinn Féin
In January this year we assembled in Dublin, where we outlined our vision for the coming months, highlighting the upcoming Lisbon Treaty and the NARC campaign as two crucial means of re-asserting Sinn Féin’s stance in the 26 County.
Gerry Adams, effectively launched the No! 2 Lisbon campaign at last year’s National Congress, addressing you, the assembled Republican Youth on the challenges that lay ahead, the important role we held in ensuring the 26 County electorate send a resounding No to the Dublin Government, and the Neo Liberals superstate agenda of the EU.
Through a hard fought campaign, through engaging with Irish youth across schools, colleges, communities, and through the ever increasing use of the internet, we overcame any censorship to shout our message loud and clear, and comrades, we where successful.
By our actions, and the resounding No! Vote, a small nation often marginalised in Europe, stood up for the other 500 million EU citizens denied a vote, and sent the Dublin government back to the drawing board for a better deal.
The Irish rejection of Lisbon was a huge upset for those who work to sap national sovereignty and establish a neo liberal super state, and it instilled huge confidence in the left progressive movements throughout Europe, who like us want co – operation between nations, but in Jame’s Connolly’s view of Europe, ‘a free federation of free peoples.’
When we travelled to the International Fete d’humanities, the Basque Country and Catalan Countries following the rejection of Lisbon, it was clear how groundbreaking the decision was, everyone was speaking about Ireland, and especially Sinn Féin’s part in ensuring a No! Vote.
Ógra played a key role in this, and we should be as active and more in campaigning against any notion of a re-call. The Irish people voted, there must be no back doors, or waste of money, resources and time on another referendum, that time should be spent in ensuring a better deal for Ireland and Europe.
At the same time as running a successful campaign on Lisbon, we where tackling head on the massively crucial issue of Drug and Alcohol Awareness, that allowed us to debate crucial and testing topics, and engage with a huge number of young people.
It demonstrated just like Suicide Prevention, or Road Safety that we are willing to deal with the most difficult issues that affect modern Irish youth. And just like the Suicide Prevention campaign, it has equipped our activists to deal with this issue when ever it arises.
There are many new faces here today, many from areas where we don’t currently have an Ógra cumann, but in a short period of time will have, and many from new cumann who weren’t represented last year. This, alongside the fact that we have dozens of young people travelling from all over Ireland to a weekend of political debate in Cork, demonstrates the dedication, strength and continued growth of Ógra and Republican Youth.
We have debated the most relevant issues here this weekend, all debates that help us recruit, campaign and educate. And especially campaign, because we are the campaigning edge of the party, and it sustains us, if we are active, vocal and impacting on issues, then we recruit and educate through this.
Republicanism and republican youth are built on activism, and we have made ourselves relevant and popularised support through campaigns last year on, the Irish language, where we marched in support of Acht na Gaeilge and organised a hugely successful Slogagh na nÓg, on Student Fees where activists across Ireland have marched, protested, occupied offices and even been arrested to show our commitment to ensuring Free Education For All, Anti Imperialism, by opposing George Bush, and the UDR murder machine coat trailing in Belfast, and who can forget the Green Post Box campaign, where flying columns of dedicated Ógra activists where dispatched to literally ‘green the north.’
The past year also witnessed a renewed focus on Universities with a streamlined comhairle ceantair being established in Uladh, and stronger ties with the Organisational Development Unit which has resulted in record Freshers recruitment, re activated dormant college cumann and increased activism across areas.
In the year ahead and with our new members and revitalised activists from this Congress we can consolidate and build on growth and professionalisation of Ógra.
We can use our new Education campaign, fight back against the budget cuts and neo liberal agenda and the 100th Anniversary of Na Fianna hÉireann as a platform to popularise the demand for Irish unity.
100 years on from the foundation of the first republican youth movement in 1909, and we should be using strong imagination and initiative to remember, and proudly commemorate the proud tradition and lasting legacy of Republican Youth which burns strong today in Ógra. The young Na Fianna on the roll of honour, where as young or younger than people assembled in this room, yet they give the ultimate sacrifice for an Irish Republic.
They have set the standard, they have shown the determination of young republicans and they should be a reference to all of us in our daily actions. No matter how tough or how hard we think our struggle is, we never will be asked to go to jail, to go on the run, or to die in order to achieve our objectives.
We need to put our struggle in perspective and we’ll all be a better activist as a result.
And just like Na Fianna producing fine republican leaders like Frank Ryan and Liam Mellowes, Ógra Shinn Féin will produce fine republican leaders of the future, some of whom are in this room.
It is clear, it is not a cliché, we are the future of this struggle, and we will achieve our objectives.
Let’s have confidence, and attempt the impossible..
Onwards to the Socialist Republic!
Cuige Uladh Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin
2008 like every year for republicans has been a busy one. Political conditions north and south continue to change, and the circumstances in which we as young republicans find ourselves continue to change. But as always republicans continue to push our project forward, and I believe over the last year Ógra in Cúige Uladh has played it’s part in this.
We have continued to play an active role in our party across the Cúige, we have also continued to play our role in our local communities, attempting to bring the republican message out to young people and to make our politics relevant to them.
We did this through our active campaigning on issues like Drugs and Alcohol Awareness, through the recent NARC (Not Another Ravaged Community) Campaign. Cúige Uladh set the precedent through town centre vigils, stalls, murals and leaflet drops; as well as workshops ran in community centres and schools across the Cúige. Success in bringing this issue to the fore was commended by many in the general public including newspapers and experts in the fields of drug and alcohol awareness.
Ógra Uladh also played an active role in other campaigns like Shell to Sea and the demand for Acht na Gaeilge. With mobilisations traveling to Rossport to support the community there, and gathering in Belfast to march and demand rights for Irish speakers and the implementation of an Irish Language Act as agreed at St. Andrew’s. And today I take the opportunity, on behalf of Cúige Uladh to re-iterate our demand for an Irish Language Act. Sinn Féin continues to work to achieve this Act, but it is the British Government who must fulfill their commitments. Acht na Gaeilge Anois!
Our work for the Irish Language continued with the hosting of the first Ógra Shinn Féin Slogadh na nÓg in Dunlewy, in County Donegal. Activists, Learners and Gaeilgoirí from around the Country came to Donegal to learn, speak and enjoy the culture through the medium of Irish. The Cúige Cultural Officer played a key role in the organisation of this event, as did Ógra activists in Donegal; and I congratulate them and commend them for setting this precedent, and I look forward to Slogadh na nÓg 2009.
Throughout the year we have had many successful political education weekends in Belfast, Derry and Strabane to name a few. We also hosted the National Youth Camp in Tí Chulainn, Mullabawn in South Armagh. Derry facilitated a youth weekend over the period of the Annual Hunger Strike March, and like Sinn Féin in the area should be commended for there role in organising the parade. Ógra was also proud to lead the parade on the day.
Between the 9-11 January we look forward to our next weekend “From Prisons to Politics”, in Newcastle, Co. Down; which will host are AGM. Always a successful event as we plan for the year ahead.
Currently we are re-structuring Ógra in Co. Down, with a new CC style structure in place, we have a lot of work ahead of us; but I have no doubt Down will continue to grow. We are also looking at potential new cumann in parts of Tyrone, Fermanagh, and Armagh and I am glad to welcome young republicans from those areas to our National Congress.
In Fermanagh itself Cúige Uladh played an active role in the recent Enniskillen by-election. Activists from neighbouring areas made many trips canvassing and campaigning; we also mobilised activists for a major town centre canvas in Enniskillen to help our candidate Debbie Coyle, who unfortunately just missed out, but delivered a fantastic Sinn Féin result.
Other actions across the Cúige, saw Uladh Campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty. Whether Youth Canvassing as we did in Monaghan, or protesting with town centre vigils and at Belfast City Hall, in the 6 Counties, that we as Irish Citizens weren’t even able to vote. I believe we made a positive impact in this campaign, and used the campaign to highlight much of the non-practicalities of partition.
Recent months have seen us campaigning heavily for the release of Long Kesh escapee Pól Brennan being detained in the US. Town Centre protests, vigils, leaflet drops, letters; including to the US Ambassador and Consulate; anything we could think of was done. Pól’s family has expressed their great thanks and gratitude to all of us for our efforts. We heard just at the beginning of the week that Pól had lost his deportation case. We will continue to stand by Pól in his battle to remain in the US over the time ahead.
An Phoblacht Abú!
The revolutionary youth organisation sent the following defiant message, which talked about the strong bonds between Basque and Irish youth, between Segi and Ógra Shinn Féin.
They stressed that no amount of repression could weaken the links between Euskal Herria and Ireland, and no amount of torture and arrest could deter the Basque people from achieving their objectives.
Segi thanked Ógra for its solidarity work especially over the recent case of Inaki de Juana, and after finishing their message with, 'the future is Independence - Tíocfaidh ár lá', the Congress erupted with a massive applause.
Jo ta ke!
Ógra Shinn Féin
Teideal an fheachtais seo, nath, cumtha go cáiliúil ag Thomas Davis, ‘Oil go mBeidh tú Saor’, ciallaíonn sé cumhacht uilíoch do dhaoine, ciallaíonn sé an ceart agus an gá le oiliúint a chur orainn féin agus gliúnta ag teacht.
The very title of this new campaign, a phrase famously coined by Thomas Davis, Educate that you may be free, suggests universal empowerment, it suggests the right and the need to educate ourselves and our future generations.
When Thomas Davis spoke those famous words, he was thinking from a liberation point of view. While the Irish people where oppressed, their language rights denied, and treated as second class citizens in their own nation, he reminded the Irish people the one thing the British Empire could not occupy was our minds.
Sentiments that would similarly be echoed over a century later by Mairead Farrell.
Education is a powerful tool, and has been one of the key factors in many key moments in our republican past.
The current phase of republican struggle was propelled forward and sustained in the early days by the Civil Rights Movement by a new generation of confident educated nationalists who benefited from the introduction of free education through the welfare state.
Education is a powerful tool, not only for liberation, but to empower our young people and our communities which is why it is essential that across Ireland we have a system of Free Education For All.
The upcoming campaign will deal with the broad spectrum of education and as a result is accessible for all cumann to undertake.
The main areas of the Educate to be Free campaign are:
- Irish Language Education – Calling for the universal opportunity to be educated in Irish at all levels
- Primary Education – Supporting the abolition of the 11+ and adequate class room sizes
- Free Education For All – Ensuring that all levels, especially 3rd level is free, and call for the abolition of all fees which incur massive debt on students
- Student Empowerment – Taking back the student unions for students, and radicalising the student movements especially in light of recent budget cuts
- Cost of Living – lobbying for a decent standard of living for struggling students
It will be run over 12 months, across universities, schools, and communities and include national forums, local debates, protests, petitions, booklets and DVD’s, support for running campaigns, letter writing and of course at a local level, more initiatives will develop and localised slants on the campaign will emerge.
We have already campaigned vigorously from the summer in opposition to fees, and we have been vocal in our support for the Assembly Education Minister Catriona Ruane in Sinn Féin’s progressive policy of abolishing the 11+.
Let us take the message to Irish Youth – Educate to be Free!
The launch of the campaign was the focal point of the annual National Congress, which drew a huge number of young delegates, with a notably high number of young women, from throughout Ireland.
There was also a strong presence from areas not represented in a number of years, most notably South Armagh, Waterford, Limerick, South/East Belfast and Fermanagh.
Talks around the global economy, education and budget cuts, the Lisbon Treaty and the 100th anniversary of Na Fianna dominated the National Congress.
Friday night proceedings got under way with an opening address by EU Sinn Fein candidate for the south constituency, Toireasa Ferris. Toireasa spoke of her time in Ógra and how it instilled confidence in her and other young candidates like Matt Carthy, Pearse Doherty, David Cullinane and Kathleen Funchion.
She also spoke of the importance of educating wider young people on republican politics, egalitarian ideals and stressed the huge importance of increasing the Sinn Féin vote in next year's European and local elections, building on the hard work throughout the Lisbon campaign.
Friday night also seen a number of motions being dealt with.
Following the late conclusion of business for Friday night, Ógra Shinn Féin assembled in Cork City for a protest calling for the release of IRA POWs. Leaflets were distributed to the enthused and supportive late night shoppers and revelers alike.
Following the protest Former POW and UCC Lecturer Felim O hAdhmaill, gave a public talk in the Sinn Féin office on left republican politics with particular reference to the Gibraltar executions of 3 unarmed IRA volunteers in 1988.
Gerry Adams was also present to give the keynote address of the congress and before leaving he met with members of the Ógra Shinn Féin National Executive, including those elected earlier in the day.
In a further election, Ógra Cork activist Donnchadh O’Laoghaire was elected to the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Féin.
The day concluded with a vibrant and vocal, ‘educate to be free’ protest in Cork City centre highlighting the new Ógra Shinn Féin campaign for the forthcoming year.
“Young republican delegates from throughout Ireland attended this years congress which seen delegates discuss and vote on a number of highly important motions which will formulate our direction and actions for the upcoming year.”
“It was an honor to host our comrades from the Catalan youth movement JERC, and the defiant message from Segi, received a huge applause, deeply inspiring everyone in the room.”
“It is a broad campaign which will focus on many aspects of education, and allows cumann to localize the issues on education, whether that is fees, class room sizes, or access to education through Irish.”