Saturday, February 28, 2009

‘Irish Republican Youth in Struggle’ Short Film – Watch and Promote!

We have uploaded the ‘Irish Republican Youth in Struggle’ short film to YouTube to make it accessible to a wider audience.

The film has been viewed by thousands, with over 1000 copies sold, screened at dozens of public meetings, and now we are uploading it to YouTube to ensure even more people view the film and are given a brief history of young republicans in the struggle.

The film traces the struggle, from the first Irish Republican Youth organisation Na Fianna Éireann in 1909, to the modern day activism of Ógra Shinn Féin.

‘Irish Republican Youth in Struggle’ should be viewed as a resource to activists, to help them visualise our past, our struggle and development but also as a promotional tool and a way to popularise our struggle and gain new activists.

We are asking you to watch it and promote it through email, your social networks and forums.

‘Educate to be Free’ National day of action

Ógra Shinn Féin are organizing for an ‘Educate to be Free’ National day of action, and they are urging maximum mobilization for the upcoming day, Wednesday 11th March 2009.

The main issues of the ‘educate to be free’ campaign are; Irish language education, Primary education, Free education for everyone, Student empowerment and Non commercialization of education.

Ógra are encouraging areas to localize the campaign and identify educational issues which the local populous can identify with, Ógra Cumann are asked to organize protests, public talks, information stalls, banner drops, leaflet drops and letter writing campaigns.

Speaking on the upcoming day of action, Ógra Shinn Féin National Secretary Councillor Johnny McGibbon said,

“It is important during the economic crisis, assault on public services and education, that young republicans are getting active, raising awareness and challenging any move that damages the educational facilities and rights of our young.”

“Education is a right, it should be free at every level and this must resonate throughout the country on the day of action. There is no area that can’t do something, mobilize now.”

Notable Youth Presence at Ard Fheis

This year’s Sinn Féin Ard Fheis saw a growing number of young speakers, especially women. The youth presence was felt through the confident speeches, the Ógra Shinn Féin stall and the inaugural youth fringe event.

Much energy and vigor was added to the wide ranging debates with lively responses from the crowd, it was particularly fitting that such a large youth crowd would be in attendance on the 100th anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann.

Commenting on the notable youth presence at the Ard Fheis, Ógra Shinn Féin National Organizer Barry McColgan said,

“Ógra Shinn Féin activists addressed many important issues at the Ard Fheis, especially vocal on the economy and education. Many young men and women spoke at the Ard Fheis for the first time after gaining much confidence and education at republican youth weekends and events throughout the year, and the passion with which they spoke reverberated throughout the hall.”

“The youth presence was also added to through the addition of an Ógra stall and an inaugural youth fringe event, which was addressed by leading Belfast republican, Bobby Storey. The youth fringe event was particularly useful and engaging and will no doubt feature at future Ard Fheis. The growing number of confident young people attending and addressing Ard Fheis bodes well for Sinn Féin’s future.”

For more youth speeches at the Ard Fheis.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Commemoration for Strabane Volunteers

This coming Sunday 1st March, the Strabane Memorial Flute Band will host it’s annual commemoration parade for local IRA Volunteers Charlie Breslin, and brothers David and Michael Devine.

It’s been twenty four years since these three local lads were brutally gunned down by the British SAS in one of the most notorious “shoot to kill” operations carried out by the British state.
The main commemoration parade begins at 3:00 on Sunday, followed by the unveiling of a new mural at the bottom of Fountain Street in memory of volunteers of the west Tyrone Brigade Oglaigh Na hÉireann.

The parade will proceed to the Strabane Scor site where a band competition will take place, followed by a buffet lunch, table quiz and music by Terry Boyle in Katy Daly’s.

Ógra Shinn Féin Torchlight vigil

Strabane Ógra Shinn Féin will also hold a torchlight vigil at the Breslin/Devine monument in memory of victims of british state violence, this will take place on the Saturday evening at 7:30pm. Accommodation will be provided at a cost of £5 for any Ógra activists wishing to stay on the Saturday night and all are asked to bring sleeping bags!

Speaking ahead of the weekend’s events, and urging Ógra activists to attend, spokesperson for the local Tobias Molloy Ógra Shinn Féin cumann, Neno McFarland said;

“Although we have seen the British army vacate the town of Strabane, their bloody legacy remains in the thoughts of local people especially around this time as we commemorate the deaths of three local IRA volunteers, shot dead by the SAS. The experience people have of the British army in this area is one of oppression, torture, collusion and murder.”

“There has been a lot of speculation and anxiety recently around proposals by the British appointed consultative group on the past, although the concern among those in this community is whether or not those in the highest echelons of British power are to be held accountable for the war crimes they sanctioned against the Irish people. Policies such as collusion and shoot to kill were forged at the cabinet table in Downing Street, and carried out with extreme ferocity by Britain’s murderous agents such as the unionist death squads and the mercenaries in the SAS. It is these facts that we aim to highlight to the public this weekend.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spark E-Zine Re-launched @ the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis

The Irish Republican Youth Movement, Ógra Shinn Féin, launched their new e-zine Spark at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis. The online magazine which can be viewed at aims to discuss the most relevant issues concerning young republicans and Irish youth today.

The first edition features articles on policing, drugs, gay rights, music and tracing 100 years of Irish Republican youth. The youth production also has a distinct international flavor to it with an exclusive interview with banned and censored Basque youth movement, Segi.

Among those interviewed is the assembly’s youngest MLA, Daithi McKay. A number of other high profile and influential republicans and political activists have already agreed to providing regular contributions.

Spark will initially come out every two weeks and the producers have set aside allowance for a hard copy Spark annual.

Speaking on the launch of Spark, editor Barry McNally said,
“We are proud to, at long last, re-launch Spark. The first edition covers many pressing issues that are of relevance to young people today. Hopefully the new format of e-zine will allow Spark to be much more accessible and interactive.”
“Spark will very much be guided by its viewers and the current affairs of the day, but also we as young republicans must challenge the status-quo and formulate new ideas through discussion. We hope Spark will act as a beacon of information and ignite debate. Log on now."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dublin Stands up in Solidarity with Basque Country

Saturday 14th February, members of the Dublin branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committee, supported by Ógra Shinn Féin held a picket outside the GPO to highlight the plight of the Basque people.

The protest theme, in accordance with Valentine's Day was 'No time for Love'. Activists distributed leaflets, held aloft Basque flags and engaged with members of the public.

As the commemoration march for Bob Doyle, a republican veteran of the Spanish Civil War, and who was imprisoned near Donostia (San Sebastían) during the war, the activists lowered their flags in memory of the long life anti fascist fighter.

Proceeding to Dublin's Liberty Hall, members of the public were treated to a series of wonderful speeches from Doyle and his comrades. It is with great dismay this activist learned today of a similar demonstration attacked in Bilbao with 5 persons arrested.

Speaking about the demonstration, Ógra activist Ross Taylor said,

"It is extremely important for us to be out here today on the streets to highlight the ongoing oppression of the Basque people. It is all too easy for Irish people to forget that it wasn't so long ago that the torturers and oppressors were knocking down the doors of men and women in Belfast, Bogside and Bellaghy, similar to the situation today in Euskal Herria.”

“The banning of free press, censorship of political parties and criminalisation of pro-independence parties in Euskal Herria smacks of the dark days of Section 31 censorship in the 26 Counties.”

“We as young republicans poignantly remember the oppression enacted against our comrades in SEGI, and the fact that their leadership still remains in jail so so called 'terrorist' activities. Today, and all throughout Basque solidarity week, we send greetings of friendship and justice to our beleaguered Basque comrades. Jo ta ke irabazi arte! Euskal Herria Askatasuna!!"

Derry Raise Awareness on Euskal Herria

To coincide with International days of Solidarity with the Basque Country the Irish Basque solidarity committee held a number of events across Ireland.

In Derry, the Basque Committees joined with Ógra Shinn Féin to organize a public talk, and a vigil at Free Derry Corner.

Both events where well attended and have helped raise awareness of the current situation in Euskal Herria.

Locally vigils were also held in Strabane and Omagh jointly organised by Ógra Shinn Féin, and the Irish/Basque committees.

Fian John Dempsey, 1st Battalion, Na Fianna Eireann

By Evan Maxwell

As we near the 100th anniversary of Na Fianna Eireann I can't but help reflect on the role of young Irishmen throughout the last century in the struggle for freedom. Foremost of these young soldiers were the many Fianna who died on active service during the most recent conflict in and around my home city of Belfast.

Fian John Dempsey is only but one example of the many comrades who have lost their lives. However, what is significant for me about John is the age of the John when he died.

He was just 16 when he was gunned down by the Brits. That's three years younger than myself. He had already in his short life made the ultimate sacrifice for Ireland when he should have been alive and well with his family today.John was a normal teenager, enjoying life like most others his age having just left school. John was very active and played football for Gort Na Mona and soccer for Corpus Christi.

However, a young Irishman in a unionist state didn't have much in the way of prospects or the same rights and opportunities were later realized. John too like many others suffered the harassment of the British army and like many others his age in Turf Lodge he entered the republican movement. John joined the ranks of Na Fianna Eireann in 1980 to play his part in the struggle for independence.

Just over year later John would be in a coffin flanked by an honour guard of his Fianna comrades. John was executed while on active service in July 1981. He was buried on the same day as Oglach Joe McDonnell.

Joe died as a man of 30, while John, a teen was served the same fate. John was the last Fian to be placed on the roll of honour.

As a young republican I can't help but feel overwhelmed by awe and the courage shown by John and his comrades. They went out to the front line as soldiers and gave their lives for and furthered in their efforts the same objectives we continue to struggle for today. It is from their efforts that I personally draw relentless motivation.

Their contribution was greater than any contribution one could wish to provide. They serve as a beacon of inspiration for all young republicans.

Today we continue to remember John. A plaque near were he was shot serves as a constant reminder of John, as well as his mural at the bottom of the Glen road in Belfast.

The annual Fian John Dempsey football and camogie tournament is also held by Gort Na Mona CLG every august in his honour.John through his ultimate sacrifice has created the conditions today were young republicans can live for Ireland and carry on the struggle.In the words of John's father;

"John has joined the elite. He died for the freedom of his country; I remember John and his comrades of Na Fianna Eireann."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ógra Shinn Féin picket calls for Basque Self-determination

The local branch of Ógra Shinn Féin recently held a white-line picket in Strabane town centre calling for independence for the Basque country. The protest which was held on Saturday 14th February was attended by members of the Irish/Basque committees and Sinn Féin, and demonstrated support for the right of the Basque people to an independent nation.

Speaking following Saturday’s demonstration, spokesperson for the local Tobias Molloy Ógra Shinn Féin cumann, Seán Mac Giolla Easpaig said;

“I am happy with the turnout at today’s event and with the response we got from the Strabane public. The aim of this past week of international solidarity organised by the Basque internationalist organisation ‘Askepena’ is to break down the wall of silence which surrounds the conflict there.”

“Severe censorship on the part of the Spanish and French states in relation to the Basque country has resulted in people around the world receiving little or no information on what is happening, unless there are accusations being thrown at the pro-independence movement.”

“We hope that events such as today’s which have been organised across Ireland and indeed world wide, help to raise awareness of the plight of the Basque people, who’s voice has been silenced by the undemocratic actions of the Spanish and French states.”

The spokesperson continued;

“Ógra Shinn Féin stands shoulder to shoulder with our comrades in Euskal Herria, and we support their efforts to secure a democratic solution to the conflict, something which is being made increasingly impossible by the repressive actions of the governments of Spain and France.”

“It is deplorable that in a so-called EU democracy we have the systematic denial of civil rights, torture of political prisoners, and banning of legitimate political parties and cultural organisations.”

Omagh Protest In Solidarity With The People of Euskal Herria

Ógra Shinn Féin were on the streets over the weekend to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of the Basque country. One area were Ógra were active was on the streets of Omagh. Demonstrators held Basque flags and posters calling for an end to the repression in the Basque country. A large number of leaflets were distributed on a busy shopping day in the county town of Tyrone.

The protest was one of a number of protests across the world under the slogan “The Basque Country doesn’t walk alone towards democracy and self-determination”. Nationwide the protests stretched the length of Ireland from Cork to Derry.
Speaking following the Omagh protest Ógra Shinn Fein spokesperson Kerry McColgan said

“We were on the streets today to show our solidarity with the Basque people. The repression in the Basque country continues apace at present. Just last week two more pro independence parties were banned by the Spanish Supreme Court from contesting elections scheduled for March. The same people who are behind the banning of the pro independence parties are the same people who are asking the Basque pro independence movement to express themselves politically yet when they aim to contest elections they are deemed illegal. What’s more is that there is a media blackout on the actions of the Spanish and French in the Basque country and so the plight of the Basque people goes largely unnoticed amongst the public.

“Amongst the repressive measures in the Basque country is the banning of political parties and arrests of its member, civil and political rights such as freedom of speech, assembly and association are constantly under siege. In addition peaceful demonstrations are brutally attacked and there is a constant stream of testimonies emerging from the Basque country of torture of prisoners and political activists. The fact that there are currently over 750 Basque political prisoners speaks volumes in itself.

“International pressure must be bright to bear on the French and Spanish states so that their repressive measures are brought to an end and the right of Basque people to national self determination is recognised. Only a solution based on an end to partition, the recognition of the Basque country as a seven provinces nation and the right to national self determination can solve the long and violent conflict.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sinn Féin Ard Fheis Youth Fringe Event – ‘Achieving Freedom, Building the Republic’

The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this coming weekend (20 – 21 February) will see hundreds of young republicans from across Ireland flock to Dublin to engage in developing and shaping the parties political outlook and strategy for the coming year.

In recent years, vibrancy and interest has been added to the various debates, by the increasing number of young people speaking to motions. In addition to this, young republicans have organised a youth fringe event in the Dodder Room, on the Saturday morning at 12.45pm, lasting an hour.

The event titled ‘Achieving Freedom, Building the Republic’ is being organised by the newly formed and constituted Uladh Colleges Comhairle Ceantair. It will look at the role of young republicans in the colleges, and also in communities, with a DVD presentation, contributions from Bobby Storey, and also an open mike session.

Urging Ard Fheis delegates and visitor attendance at the event, Queens University activist, Gemma McKenna said,

“In the past number of years, there has been an increased presence and more young people addressing motions at the Ard Fheis. In Uladh we have also undertaken a successful review and new approach in organising college cumann, and we are keen to share these lessons at the youth fringe event.”

“The event will cover our progress in the colleges and also look at successful examples of young republicans organised in local communities, through Ógra and other broad initiatives. We aim to make it as engaging and interactive as possible through the use of an open mike session.”
“While this is the first time we have organised a youth fringe event at the Ard Fheis, we anticipate it being a success, and would be looking to organise similar meetings in future. We hope you can join us for a vibrant, youthful outlook on the party’s future.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vol. Martin Doherty Republican Youth Weekend – Bígí Linn!

Ógra Shinn Féin are planning to ‘fittingly commemorate and pay tribute’ to Vol. Martin Doherty on his 15th Anniversary by hosting a Republican Youth Weekend in the Capital from the 22 – 24 May.

Vol. Martin Doherty was shot dead on 21 May 1994 by a UVF Unionist death squad as he prevented the bombing of a republican function in the Widow Scallons pub in Dublin’s Pearse Street.

The commemorative weekend will include the inaugural ‘Doco’ memorial lecture, a DVD launch on Martin’s life, a republican tour of Dublin, the 15th Anniversary Martin Doherty March, debate, and a Social Night.

The weekend will see young Republicans from across Ireland descend on Dublin to remember Vol. Martin Doherty, learn of his life, and debate the current republican project.

Encouraging maximum attendance, Martin’s son, Dublin Ógra activist Michael Farrell said,

“Although it is 15 years from my father’s death, his memory is very much alive, and his sacrifice is a constant source of inspiration to me, and young republicans throughout Ireland.”

“His selfless actions on the 21 May 1994 prevented a massacre, and this bravery and selflessness, is what will continue to inspire us and ensure that republicans are to the fore in creating Independence and the much needed change in our communities.”

“Ógra Shinn Féin have organised a weekend of events to fittingly commemorate and pay tribute to my father on his 15th Anniversary, and I would encourage and invite all young republican’s from across Ireland to come to Dublin and be inspired to continue achieving freedom and building the Republic - Bígí Linn!”

Newcastle Ógra prepare for European Election

Ógra Shinn Féin an Cáislean Nua hit local doors on Thursday evening in preparation for the forthcoming European Union elections on June 5th.

Hundreds of houses were leafleted with information about Sinn Fein’s ongoing campaigns and the work that our MEP’s have already done for Ireland on a European Level.

Speaking after the leaflet drive Newcastle Ógra member Jamie Kelly commented,
"We want to give the people of Newcastle a clear message that Sinn Féin and Bairbre De Brun are the best option to get their voices heard in Europe."
"With the threat of a Lisbon Treaty re-run in the 26 counties showing the ignorance of Fianna Fáil toward the people of Ireland, it is key that Sinn Féin continue to hold strong in Europe and ensure that Irish people have a say in issues that matter to them."
"This election could see Sinn Féin taking the largest vote in the six counties and we are confident that the South Down vote will help achieve that, we will continue to take our drive to the doors of Newcastle and engage with local residents for the benefit of the whole community."

Waterford to host first Republican Youth Weekend

Seán (Hector) Ó Briain
Ógra Shinn Féin

Ógra Shinn Féin Waterford will host a Republican youth weekend from March 20th - 22nd. The primary focus of the weekend will revolve around the future of Republicanism in modern day Ireland.

Also hosted, will be a discussion on the Irish language, headed by Ógra Shinn Féin activist and Gaeilgeoir - Peadar de Bluit. Included will be a historical tour of Waterford, which will expand on the origins of the national flag of Ireland, with a study session on the national anthem of Ireland to boot.
All attending are asked to register their places as soon as possible by e-mailing The total cost of the weekend will be €30, including accommodation, food and entertainment. Make sure to bring a sleeping bag!

‘Alice Milligan, Friend of All Ireland’

“Alice Milligan, Friend of All Ireland” – Signatory of the 1916 Proclamation, Thomas McDonagh speaking about Alice Milligan.

Barra Mac An Fhaili
Every year, at Easter Sunday republicans gather at numerous sacred locations throughout the island of Ireland to remember those who died in the freedom struggle and re dedicate themselves to achieving the objective for which Republican Martyrs gave theirs lives.

One such sacred place is the graveside of Alice Milligan, in Drumragh Graveyard, just outside of Omagh. Her graveside is the location of a wreath laying ceremony for all republican dead in the graveyard on Easter Sunday morning every year.

But who was Alice Milligan, why has her role in the freedom struggle gone largely unnoticed outside republican circles? How did this woman, who was born into a wealthy Methodist family, become one of the most important figures of the Irish literacy and language revival of the late 1800’s and 1900’s?

In order to try and address some of these issues we must look at the live and times of Alice Milligan.

Alice Milligan was born in Omagh, the county town of Tyrone in 1866. Her family were wealthy and came from a Methodist background.

In 1888 Alice attended university to pursue academic studies in Irish in Dublin. Whilst in Dublin Alice began to develop, politically and attended one of Parnell’s last rallies. Her family were in no way republicans but Alice’s interest in republicanism began whilst living as a student in Dublin. Shortly after her return from college the Milligan family moved to Belfast.

Continuing to pursue republicanism in Belfast Alice became involved in various clubs and societies and through these got to know numerous republican figures included Bulmer Hobson and Rodger Casement, who was later to be captured by the British forces at Banna Strand in 1916.

Alice joined the Henry Joy McCracken Literacy Society whilst in Belfast and it was there that she met other political and cultural activists including Anna Johnston. Johnston was better known as her pseudonym, ‘Ethna Carbery’ which she used when writing poetry. Unlike Johnston, whose family had a history of republican resistance Milligan’s family had no previous involvement with republican politics.

Alongside Johnston Milligan set up the Magazines, the Northern Patriot and later the Shan Van Vocht, which was first published in 1896. The SSV was a monthly publication and included Poetry, fiction, travel, historical events and personalities as well as highlighting commemorative events regarding the 1798 rising. It also stressed the importance and gave a lot of coverage to Irish cultural expressions. Including the Gaelic games and the Irish language.

Alice Milligan became the first editor of the Shan Van Vocht whilst Johnston was her secretary, later to become joint editor in 1898. The Shan Van Vocht, with Milligan at the helm espoused separatist and republican ideals.

Many historical figures including James Connolly and Arthur Griffith were regular contributors to the SVV. Indeed it was a widely read and distributed magazine having readers in England, South Africa and America, furthermore in 1897 Milligan had secured an agent to sell the magazine in New York.

At this time Milligan had also become a leading activist in the Gaelic league. She travelled the length and breadth of Ireland giving lectures on Irish history, Irish culture and republicanism. This work brought her into contact with people like Maud Gonne, Padraig Pearse and Michael Davitt.

The Easter rising and subsequent civil war had a deep and profound impact on Alice, like many republicans throughout the island of Ireland. In a poem written at the time of the civil war Alice Milligan wrote

“And in these days of blood and tears
The words re-echo in my ears
As many a comrade yields his life
To former friend in desperate strife.”

Weakened emotionally and mentally by the fall out over the treaty and the Civil war Alice Milligan faded from, public life. She returned to her native home in Tyrone and devoted her time to caring for members of her family who were sick.

In quite contrast to her upbringing Alice died in poverty close to her birthplace in Omagh in 1953. Today her remains lay in Omaghs Drumragh Graveyard, just outside the Co. Tyrone Town.

So why do I include Alice Milligan as one of the most inspiring women in republican politics throughout the past hundreds of years?

In my opinion Alice was one of the most vivacious of the politically aware Irish women of a hundred years ago.
Furthermore Alice was involved in the Irish Freedom Movement at a time when the British Empire was at the height of its power. Also at a time when women were very much treated different to men. Even in 1916 women were turned away from Bolands Mill, even though a main theme of republicanism was egalitarianism.

However for Alice Milligan and indeed Anna Johnston to become the editors of such a magazine as the Shan van Vocht was something which would be unparalleled. In addition to this to take a leading role in the Gaelic League and Literacy Movement as clearly showed she was a Revolutionary woman of her time.

However with this said it is clear that the voice of women was present through this period, though not always heard. With people like Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz and Mary McSwiney it is clear the women provided an important role to the struggle at that time. For instance it was women who set up the prisoner’s dependant fund in the aftermath of the rising, it was women who were to the fore in the campaign for the release of political prisoners and it was the organised women of Cumann na mBan who rejected overwhelmingly the treaty following treaty negotiations.

Alice Milligan was one of those women who made sure their voices were heard and led from the front, as a model to those who followed.

Although her goal of a 32 county republic in Ireland has yet to be achieved her memory continues to inspire other generations of Irish republicans to complete the work done by their people like Alice Milligan.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam uasal

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Divide and Conquer

Ógra Shinn Féin

A house divided against itself cannot stand - Abraham Lincoln

Last week the government stretched in to the pockets of the public service and inflicted a de facto pay cut on the teachers nurses and postal workers of this state, by placing a levy on their pensions.

An obsequious attitude towards IBEC and their proposals from led to the trade unions rejecting an unacceptable package in the social partnership talks.

On Wednesday last the government laid this plan before the oireachtas, as Brian Cowen railroaded this through regardless of the misgivings of the unions, and showing a flagrant disregard for the health of public services, and a great deal of disdain for the workers of the state.

There is understandable anger at this. And yet many workers see this as not their concern. Why is this?

The media and the government have carefully cultivated division among Irish workers. Countless articles and columns drill into us that there is an unanswerable case for cuts in wages that our public service costs too much.

This is of course only the first step. This evening Billy Kelleher indicated that the minimum wage will be re-examined – i.e. reduced. While we plough money into the banks, our press insists on willfully ignoring the failure of the government to place the blame where it truly lies and instead insists on attempting to sow antipathy between public sector and private sector workers, so that they will not unite against a common enemy.

Distressingly, they have been extremely successful. Now while the ICTU and various public sector unions consider there options, there greatest concern is that there is little or no public support for industrial action.

This is, unfortunately, unsurprising. Disunity has forever been the downfall of workers.

See further – the beginning of section II of Socialism made easy:

From scab labour to internal union bickering, to the present fallacy being pushed by the press, the capitalists know that as long as the working class (by which I mean all working people) remain divided, they need not fear.

However I do not intend to be fatalistic.

If the people can be united behind a republican banner, then the country may be altered forever, and a historic opportunity. Lets look at the most recent events for last Wednesday may well have been a far more significant day for Irish politics than it initially appears. Fianna Fáil, for all their venal and dislikeable aspects, were always tremendously skilful at garnering loyalty from certain significant sectors of society.

The elderly, in many places, was one. Much of this loyalty may well have been undone by the medical cards fiasco. On Wednesday, Fianna Fáil may well have lost another solid ally. The public service, like the elderly, vote.

The vast, vast majority of them will cast a vote in June. Many of them, who have voted Fianna Fáil their entire adult lives, are now questioning whether or not they shall ever vote for them again. Many of them will look at the alternatives. What about Fine Gael?

Perhaps many will vote for Fine Gael, but they would probably not be well advised to do so, the ‘slash and burn’ talk coming from Varadkar and Bruton thinly veiled as ‘reform’ as regards public services surely should give voters cause for concern. Perhaps the public sector will finally recognise its allies.

I would suggest that many of the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the state will now be forced to look to parties they previously would never have considered. Labour, Green Party and Sinn Féin.

You can count the greens out, as their supine performance in government so far has surely discount any possibility of a protest vote ending up there. I think it’s between us and Labour to pick up those votes. But for us to win that battle, a full and frank reappraisal of our policies must be undertaken.

If a coherent alternative voice can present itself now, then the shape of politics in the 26 counties could be altered permanently. This voice must convince the public and the working people of the need for unity, it must be clear that there can be no cut in the minimum wage nor in jobseekers allowance, it must be clear that frontline public services must not suffer because of the largesse of the private sector.

It must be clear that the wealthy must be forced to pay their way, and must not be frightened of using taxation to maintain an adequate standard of living for the people. It must not be timid statements in policy documents, or vague answers in interviews.

It must be shouted from the rooftops, made as crystal clear as possible and stated as often as possible, so that it becomes clear to all who will defend the workers. It must unite the people.

That voice must be ours!

Basque Solidarity Events in Doire – Bígí Linn!

The Derry Irish Basque Committee has organised a Basque Night on Friday 13th of February as part of the International Days of Solidarity with the Basque Country.

The function in the Dungloe Bar @ 8pm will act as an information night about the current situation in the Basque country. It will also give people a chance to experience Basque music and culture and taste Basque food cooked by a Basque chef.

The night will also include 2 DVD showing one show the current situation in the Basque Country and the other showing a recent mobilisation there by Ógra Shinn Féin.

Saturday 14th February will also see Ógra Shinn Fein Doire leading a protest about the current situation in the Basque Country and demanding the release of its political prisoners, assembling at Free Derry Corner @ 3.30pm.

Jo ta ke agus Bígí Linn!

Fianna Fáil attack the working class yet again

Seán Ó Briain
OSF Waterford

In another attempt to degrade the lives of working class people in the 26 counties, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central and Minister for Labour Affairs, Billy Kelleher hinted at the idea of reducing the minimum wage in the 26 counties.

"The minimum wage must not become a barrier to attracting jobs to Ireland" Kelleher stated today at the launch of the National Employment Rights Authority annual report. Highlighting that the minimum wage of €8.65 an hour was the second highest in Europe, Kelleher added that the "economic environment needs to be taken into account."

That's fine and well for Mr. Kelleher who lives a comfortable life with his inflated annual TD wage and added expenses. Unfortunately for Mr. Kelleher, his understanding of our economic environment and mine vary greatly.

The minimum wage in the 26 counties may be the second highest in Europe, but what Mr. Kelleher forgot to mention was that it is also one of the most expensive states in the world to live in. €8.65 an hour doesn't go very far in the 26 counties, although I doubt he's had to live on such a wage since his days of pocket-money.

Education cuts, re-introduction of college fees, lowering of the minimum wage. What's next from Fianna Fáil?

Political Censorship in Basque Country Draconian

Sheena Campbell House in Lurgan

Upper Bann Ógra Shinn Féin have expressed their support for youth and political organizations in the Basque Country, as part of an international week of solidarity. The news comes not long after the Spanish Government decision to ban a further 2 Basque pro-independence organisations, in the run up to the March 1st Basque elections. (Askatauna and D3M, Demokratzia 3 milioi.) Ógra Shinn Féin cumainn across Ireland have planned a number of actions to mark the week of solidarity.

Ógra activist in Upper Bann, and Sinn Féin Councillor, Johnny McGibbon commented,

“This week we are flying the Basque National Flag from the Sinn Féin Office to symbolize our solidarity with the Basque people, and in particular with Basque political party Batasuna and the youth organisation Segi. The Spanish Government ban on these political organizations is nothing short of draconian.”

He continued,

“I have visited the Basque Country on a number of occasions, most recently in October, and have witnessed this ban in action. The Spanish have closed down newspapers, radio stations and have over 800 Basque political activists in prison. The Spanish and French Governments must be prepared to treat political organisations with equality if any peace process is to succeed.”

Cllr. McGibbon continued,

“Anyone seeking further information on the Basque Country can visit the Irish Basque Committees at

Sinn Féin activists in Lurgan show their support for International Solidarity with the Basque Country.

Cubans Celebrate 50 years of the Revolution

Barra Mac An Fhaili

Cuba celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution on January 1st. It marked the victory of the 26th July movement led by Fidel Castro over the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista on Jan. 1, 1959.

In Santiago de Cuba, where Fidel Castro addressed the nation five decades ago, Raul Castro told Cubans the revolution is as strong as ever but warned of the need to continuously fight the enemy, referring to the US. "It is time to reflect on the future, on the next 50 years when we shall continue to struggle incessantly," he told a crowd. “I’m not trying to scare anyone, this is the truth."

President Castro hailed his brother's role in creating and sustaining the revolution, quoting from several speeches over his nearly half century in power. "We know that a man alone doesn't make history. But some men are indispensable, as they can have a decisive influence in the course of events. Fidel is one," he said.

"Viva Fidel, viva the revolution, viva free Cuba!" he shouted.

The leader of the Revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro in a message published in the state run newspaper, ‘The Granma’ praised "our heroic people" for 50 years of revolution.

Under Fidel Castro Cuba has got worldwide acclaim for its education system that has stamped out illiteracy and its universal healthcare system, which ranks amongst the best in the world.

Cuba's economy has suffered due to the US embargo placed on the island for the past 46 years. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s it placed greater strains on the Cuban economy. However it remains steadfast and it remains to be seen whether Cuba will fair lightly in the world economic downturn compared to other nations throughout the world. Cuba still has a strong ally in Venezuela, who have been sending some 100,000 barrels of subsidized oil a day. With this being said Cuba's economy has been hurt this year by three hurricanes causing $10 billion in damage and high food prices.

The economic embargo in place by the US is not expected to be lifted any time soon. But with the incoming administration of US President Barack Obama, there is a renewed sense of hope that he'll ease restrictions – including family travel and remittances for Cuban Americans – and that more dialogue can open between the two nations

The fact that Cubans celebrated the 50th anniversary of the revolution this month shows the failed foreign policy of the US towards the island. Despite the US Embargo and the US policy of isolation towards Cuba the country continues to strive, grow and outcome the many obstacles which attempt to strangle the Cuban revolution.

Heres to another 50 years of the revolution….

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

‘Educate to be Free’ campaign locally launched in Omagh

Ógra Shinn Féin organised a local launch of their ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign in Omagh town centre on Saturday 7 February.

The youth movement’s campaign aims to raise awareness and campaign on many issues surrounding education including the right to free education, the right to education through the medium of Irish at every level and supporting the abolition of the 11+.

West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson, Stevey McGahan said,

“The ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign will be brought to every corner of Tyrone in the coming year, we hope to engage with young people in local schools, colleges, in the community and also working with youth clubs and the GAA to ensure our message is brought to the widest possible youth base.”

“Education is the most important tool in empowering people; and essential in instilling confidence in citizens, we therefore believe that in order to have a fully engaged and progressive society that education is properly resourced and funded, that everyone’s educational needs are met and that education is free at every level."

“We believe in a free, equal, all Ireland educational system, and it is apt that the campaign will be rolled out on a national basis, through local launches and actions which popularise our message to young people in every corner of Ireland.”

Utilising Councils for Youth

Saturday 7th February saw Ógra Shinn Féin’s National Executive given an exclusive visit to Omagh District Council.

The visit, hosted by the Sinn Féin Council Chairperson, Martin McColgan, gave the youth movement a unique insight into the work of the local council and how young people can use local government in lobbying for the provision of youth services and youth facilities.

Speaking after the visit, Fra Cochrane, Ógra Shinn Féin National Recruitment Officer, said,

"This has been an exceptional look into the work of local councils and has acted as a real eye opener of how councils can be used for the benefit of young people."

"During the talk, Martin McColgan outlined how the council can be essential in the community having a voice in government, through community presentations to the council and through local councillors acting as a conduit for the communities they represent.”

"It showed how we as young people can have a say in what is needed in our areas and how important it is that we make our voices heard. We also heard how communities can work in partnership with local councils for the benefit of the community, a perfect example of this being the redevelopment of the vacated Lisanelly and St.Lucia British Military barracks in Omagh.”

"We are extremely grateful to Chairperson Martin McColgan for this educational talk and I am in no doubt that Ógra activists will take what they have learnt back into their respective areas."

International Days of Solidarity with the Basque Country

The international organisation of the Basque pro-independence movement have called for a week of solidarity and protest around the world, at the undemocratic nature of the Spanish state, and to call for self-determination for the Basque Country (Euskal Herria).

To coincide with this the Irish Basque solidarity committee have called a day of action for Saturday 14th February in Ireland. Locally there will be pickets held in both Strabane and Omagh, jointly organised by Ógra Shinn Féin, and the Irish/Basque committees.

The local branch of Ógra Shinn Féin launched their solidarity campaign last Friday 6th February in Strabane Sinn Féin offices, where a talk was given by Basque Nationalist Luixote Blanco.
(Leti Cid from Galicia, and Basque Nationalist Luixote Blanco with Ógra Shinn Féin members at the launch of Basque solidarity week.)
Speaking ahead of the planned protest in Strabane, spokesperson for the Tobias Molloy Ógra Shinn Féin cumann Ciaran McKenna said;

“The current situation in Euskal Herria is one of severe repression meted out on the pro-independence movement by the Spanish and French authorities. Political parties and cultural/youth organisations have been banned and their members given long jail terms.”

“Democracy is all but dead in the Basque country as the Spanish and French states seek to destroy the pro-independence left, rather than negotiate a viable solution to the conflict.”
“The Irish people know all too well, the harsh realities of life under the jackboot of oppression, which is why we, in Ógra Shinn Féin are calling on people to show support for the Basque people’s right to national self-determination. People are being urged to assemble for a solidarity picket at Abercorn Square on Saturday 14th Feb at 2;00pm. A picket has also been organised for Omagh, assembling outside the northern bank at 12:00 noon.”

Friday, February 06, 2009

20 years on – We Salute you Volunteer Josie Connolly

20 years on Volunteer James 'Josie' Connolly is still sorely missed by his family, friends, the Republican movement and the Castlederg community.

Josie was the eldest son of Joey and Anna Connolly. He was a keen sportsman, and in his short life he won numerous trophies for his exploits in boxing. The crowning glory being an Ulster Junior Championship. Josie also had a keen interest in Gaelic games and played for local Castlederg club, St. Eugene’s C.L.G.

An example of Josie’s republican commitment and respect for his fellow volunteers, is the story of how Josie left his grandparents’ wake on Easter Sunday to attend the local commemoration at the graveside of Óglach Seamus Harvey. Josie was to have the same fate as Seamus and made his final journey to the same graveyard on 9th February 1989.

On the 5th February 1989 at around 11pm, a bomb prematurely detonated just outside the village of Drumquin. As personnel of the British Forces arrived at the scene, they found a seriously injured young man. Conscious and aware, he refused to give any information or even his identity.Sadly 20 years ago today on February 6th 1989, Josie died from his injuries.
The IRA confirmed that he was a Volunteer on active service.
Josie was described as “one of the most popular lads in the parish. He was respected by all; this was evident by the numbers that turned out for his wake and funeral. His loss to his family, friends and the Republican Movement is immeasurable.
The members of the Volunteer James ‘Josie’ Connolly Ógra Shinn Féin Cumann, Castlederg, would like to extend our solidarity with the Connolly family and to all who were close with Josie.
He is a true inspiration to all young Irish women and men. “A true son of Ireland so let it be said, we salute you Volunteer Josie Connolly”
We will achieve the Republic for which you died; your death was not in vain.

A Gaelic football match will take place Saturday 7th February at 4pm in Castlederg, followed by food and music in Lynchs bar. All welcome!

Tíocfaidh ár lá!

Women in Struggle Interview – Kerry McColgan

Gemma McKenna
Uladh Gender Equality Officer
Ógra Shinn Féin

I sat down with Kerry McColgan, a 21 year old Beauty Therapist from Omagh, County Tyrone as part of the ongoing women in struggle interviews.

Kerry is just like any other 21 year old, enjoying swimming and going out with her friends at the weekend, yet unlike many others she took a conscious decision to become active in republican and community struggle.

Kerry had many influences which led her to becoming active in Ógra, growing up in the republican estate of Strathroy, having family members imprisoned, her father Martin is currently Chairman of Omagh District Council, and her brother Barry, the National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin.

How did you get interested in politics?

I grew up in a republican family and from an early age I regularly visited my uncle who was a POW in Long Kesh. On the way to Long Kesh and during the visits I heard people talking about the blanket men and the Hunger Strikers, of the hardships they had suffered because of their political beliefs and they inspired me to become involved in politics.

I also wanted to make a difference in my community and tackle the problems that face people in their everyday lives.

Were you involved in politics before getting involved in Ógra?

Yes with helping Sinn Fein canvassing, leafleting and other election work in various counties throughout Ireland. Also through protests and campaigns.

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

My brother Barry who is currently the National Organiser for Ogra was then the Six County Organiser.

Has your interest in politics come your family influence? And How?

Yes my family have a long time been involved in politics. My dad has been a Sinn Fein activist for many years and my uncle Tony served six years in Long Kesh. Also my brother has been active in Ogra from an early age so I have had loads of influence from various family members.

My mother, father, aunties and uncles are also heavily involved in community activism, helping with youth clubs, senior citizen groups, and the strathroy community association, this made me aware of the importance of community work, as it creates a community spirit and helps empower people.

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

I would be involved with my local community group organising local events for my local area and campaigning for youth services and for youth provision. I would also be involved with my local Sinn Fein cumann.

What actions have Ógra taken in your area (weekend’s protests etc)

Ogra have been very active in my area campaigning on many issues. Including:

-Release of IRA prisoners
-Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
-Plight of Palestine/Gaza
-Suicide awareness and prevention
-Road Safety
-Drugs awareness
-Student Fees and Education

We were also part of a successful demilitarisation campaign at the now former British Army Bases of Lisanelly and St Lucia in Omagh.

What do you like most about Ógra Shinn Féin?

I like the fact that in Ogra young people have the opportunity to develop their political skills and confidence through campaigning, educational weekends and workshops. To quote Gerry Adams, “Young people have always been central to the republican struggle”.

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

-It give me the confidence to speak publically for the first time
-Representing my cumann at the Ogra National Congress and Sinn Féin Ard Fheis
-Completing the ASIST programme on suicide awareness and prevention
-Visiting the hospital in Long Kesh where Bobby Sands and his comrades died during the 1981 Hunger Strike

What do you enjoy doing outside of Politics?

I work in a beauty salon, and I also enjoy swimming, and going out with my friends at the weekend.

How do you think you make politics relevant to young people and what are the major pressing issues for young people?

By showing them how political actions and political campaigns can bring about decisions that affect their everyday life. There are many major pressing issues for young people including;

-Student fees
-Road safety
-Suicide prevention
-Sexual health
-Car insurances costs for young people
-Drug issues

If there was one issue you could get young people active on, what would it be?

Really there are two issues I would like to get young people active on. One is drug awareness and the other is suicide awareness. Both of these issues have become an increasing problem in today’s society, especially among young people and in some cases these two issues are linked.

What issue is your cumann active on currently?

We are currently helping in organising for the National Hunger Strike Commemoration which will be in Tyrone this year.

Who has been a role model for you political?

Bobby Sands, Gerry Adams and Nelson Mandela

What female has most influenced you?

My mum and Countess Markievicz

Quickfire Round

Favourite Food: chicken curry with naan bread

Favourite Drink: Magners

Favourite Music / Artist: I like a bit of everything but mostly rebel music

Favourite songs : If I were a boy, Joe McDonnell, Galtee mountain boy, The Peoples Own MP and Broken Strings

Favourite Films: Mannequinn, Braveheart and The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Favourite Book: Bobby Sands Nothing But An Unfinished Song

Favourite Holiday resort: Oviedo

Person most influential in your life: My dad

Person you would like to meet (living) Nelson Mandela

Person you would like to meet (deceased) Che Guevara, Bobby Sands

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

-I would extend representation in the Dail to include Northern representatives.
-I would also extend voting rights to people in the North for the Irish Presidential elections.
-I would ensure there could not be a re-run of the Lisbon treaty.

Any other comments: Tiocfaidh ár lá!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

National Student Anti Fees March Film

The following is a film of yesterday's (Feb 4 '09) National Student Anti - Fees March in Dublin. It includes footage of the wider march but focusses on Ógra Shinn Féin's participation on the day, including Pearse Doherty's speech and interviews with some youth activists.

The march had upwards on 20,000 people on the streets of Dublin united in protest against the Dublin government's plans to introduce student fees. The march began at the National Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square and made its way to Leinster House where their was various addresses and the marchers staged a sit down protest closing the street for 45 mins.

The march and similar actions against the introduction of fees are massively important and it is crucial that Ógra Shinn Féin is involved and leading in this campaign.

Make sure to view the film and pass it on, and with it, spreading the message 'Free Education For All!'

Ógra Shinn Féin Join Mass March against Student Fees

Ógra Shinn Féin activists from across Ireland, students and workers alike, joined with thousands of people yesterday marching against the introduction of student fees by Minister Batt O Keefe and the Fianna Fáil led government.

Ógra Shinn Féin held banners, and placards, distributed thousands of leaflets and Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty passionately addressed the thronged crowd of protestors at Leinster house to a very warm and enthusiastic reception.

National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan said,

“Ógra Shinn Féin support free education for all, and are utterly opposed to the current onslaught on public spending by the Dublin government. We believe that third level education is a right, and should be safeguarded from fees which elevate it to a privilege which only a minority can benefit from.”

“It is heartening to witness thousands upon thousands of students, marching in defiance of the Dublin government and their attempts to introduce student fees, and the loud chorus of ‘No Fianna Fail T.Ds’, coming from a mobilised and empowered youth electorate, will hopefully resonate and bring pressure to bear on the government benches in Leinster house.”

“Ógra Shinn Féin will continue to stand with students and campaign with all the vulnerable sections of society who are targets and victims of these cutbacks. Only an empowered and mobilised response is adequate and the march in Dublin is a sign of things to come, this is a fight that the students are up for!”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stand up for Waterford Crystal workers

Today, activists from all walks of life, including WIT's Ógra Shinn Féin cumann marched in solidarity with the workers of Waterford Crystal. A company, with a long and distinguished history in Waterford; spanning 225 years.

Long has it been a cornerstone for the Waterford workforce, the company is now ceased in its production. Today, protester's numbering in their 1000's – One of the largest marches seen in the city in recent years, marched from Brownes Road to the Kilbarry Waterford Crystal plant to extend support to the current staff who are organising a sit-in protest.

Only a few days ago, the receiver of Waterford Crystal had employed henchmen to block staff from entering their work premises; a place that some in Waterford have called home for over 40 years. Not dissuaded by the newly employed thug henchmen, the workers entered the building and occupied the premises in a sit-in protest, which has now been ongoing for the past few days. The workers have been supported greatly by the community, but they need more support on a national scale.

Speaking on behalf of Ógra Shinn Féin Waterford, Seán Ó Briain stated:

"Men and women of Waterford, who have paid into pension funds for over 40 years, are now left without a job, or the financial security of their pension. It is a terrible day for Waterford. While the Irish Government was quick to bail out the elite bankers, who today now enjoy the comforts of a pension – the Government has shown no intention to offer support for the Glass factory workers who have contributed an immense amount to the community over the years."

"No jobs, no pensions, and little hope – The workers of Waterford Crystal now face a scary and harsh reality. Once again, capitalism favours the rich, while the hard working class people are shafted and left to pick up the pieces."

"I am calling on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to step down, as he lacks the backbone that is required to save the workforce of Waterford. We need new leadership, a leadership that favours the working class, and not the upper class. The Irish people will no longer tolerate an incompetent Government."

"I am also calling on Ógra Shinn Féin activists from across Ireland to extend their solidarity to the Waterford Crystal workers, but also - to the many workers across Ireland who also face a similar fate, such as Limerick's Dell employees."