Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The following is the new 'Educate to be Free' pamphlet. (Click to enlarge and print)
It should be used by cumann and activists in the time ahead to promote the campaign and our politics.
The pamphlet has been already distributed to thousands of young people, at schools, colleges and communities, who we are attempting to empower and get involved in the campaign.
For any area who are unable to access adequate print facilities, you can order copies of the pamphlet by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Today we held protests outside the UTV and BBC offices in Derry calling on them to give the same equality to the Easter Lily as is given to the Poppy in November. We are calling on both media outlets to allow their employees to wear the Easter Lily which is currently banned within the workplace.”
“We will be taking to the Streets of Derry in the weeks up to Easter to promote the wearing of the Lily and we are also asking people to take time to sign our petition calling for equality for the Easter Lily within the workplace and at schools."
The event was hosted by Omagh District Council Chairperson Martin McColgan in the chamber, and Winnie Harte, mother of Volunteers Gerard and Martin Harte, was the guest of honour to officially launch the Easter Lily.
Following a short presentation by the Council Chairperson, Ógra Shinn Féin members Barry McNally and Stephen McGahan read the 1916 Proclamation and ‘Easter 1916’ by WB Yeats, respectively, and Councillor Sharon O’Brien read the Tyrone Brigade Roll of Honour.
Following this, Winnie Harte and Martin McColgan launched the Easter Lily encouraging everyone to, “remember Ireland’s patriot dead by wearing an Easter Lily and attending their local and county wide Easter commemorations.”
Encouraging people to wear the Easter Lily, West Tyrone Ógra activist Kerry McColgan said,
“Ógra Shinn Féin will be active throughout West Tyrone in the next 2 weeks promoting the Easter Lily, encouraging a new generation of Irish youth to honour Ireland’s patriot dead by wearing an Easter Lily.”
“The Easter Lily was fittingly launched by Winnie Harte, a women who has endured so much hurt, losing 2 sons in Ireland’s freedom struggle, yet continues to actively promote Republicanism and inspire a new generation of activists to continue working for what her son’s Gerard, Martin alongside their comrade Brian Mullin, bravely died fighting for.”
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The republican youth movement engaged with shoppers, young and old on the thronged streets of the city centre, encouraging hundreds of people to add their support to the campaign.
“The Easter Lily is proudly worn by Irish Republican’s each year at Easter in remembrance of Ireland’s patriot dead. It is important that, as we build a shared, inclusive society that Republican dead, and our remembrance of them, is afforded the equality and respect it deserves.”
“We hope that our campaign to promote the Easter Lily, and achieve equality for it encourages more young Irish people to wear it proudly in their schools, workplace and community.”
“At Easter it is right that we remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to achieve a free and egalitarian Ireland as outlined in the 1916 proclamation. Easter is a time for Irish Republicans to honour their sacrifice and re-commit ourselves to completing their unfinished task.”
Friday, March 27, 2009
There should not be a British Army barracks in Antrim, no more than there should be one in Ardee or Athlone. The question for Irish Republicans is how do we get rid of them?
Most times in our history when Irish people exercised their legitimate right to engage in armed struggle against the British, it ended in glorious defeat. Only twice did Republicans get an honourable draw.
The second time was in the recent conflict, when republicans again espoused the spirit of Connolly the British did their damndest to crush Republicanism but the IRA dragged them kicking and screaming to the negotiating table. This time the Republican leadership is a match for anyone.
Let’s examine what Republicans have achieved so far. One party Unionist rule, the Orange State, is gone and, despite the wishful thinking of Jim Allister and Mark Durkan, it ain’t coming back. The RUC, too, has gone. In its place we have a far from perfect PSNI. It would be churlish indeed not to acknowledge the sea change in policing in the Six Counties. 75% + of PSNI officers were never in the RUC and carry no emotional baggage for the old, sectarian force. When the time comes, they will merge seamlessly into an All- Ireland police service.
True, the British are still here and our country is still divided, but reunification is a work in progress.
Anyone who is genuinely interested in winning the Irish Freedom Struggle should stand shoulder to shoulder with Sinn Féin, who are working day in day out, north and south to achieve that goal. The way forward in 2009 is to build political—including electoral—strength, to make strategic alliances and to reach out to all our people, most particularly that section of our Nation that describes itself as Unionist.
We have been less than brilliant in the past at explaining that when we say “Brits Out”, we don’t mean them. Here in Newry and elsewhere, many ordinary, decent people from a Unionist background use our excellent constituency service and are made very welcome in our offices.
Anyone who is concerned about the direction the Republican Movement is going, whether they are former activists who have drifted away and do not have their finger on the pulse or people who may feel inclined to sympathise with the micro groups should come and talk to us, in a friendly and comradely way.
Finally, I would appeal to young people in particular who may be attracted by militarism for its own sake. They should remember that the real militants and hard liners are those who are working for Freedom, Peace and Justice and have a strategy for achieving it.
GOOD FRIDAY 10TH APRIL
ERIK NOON & THE FUTURE GYPSIES
THE RED RASTA SOUND SYSTEM
with speakers, videos, raffles, merchandising, books...
£5 BEFORE 10PM / £7 AFTER 10 PM
Organised by: BELFAST BASQUE SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE
Ógra Shinn Féin
With Batt O’Keefe on the verge of announcing his proposals for the re-introduction of third level fees in whatever guise he chooses in the next couple of weeks, it is incumbent upon all those who oppose fees to step up their efforts over the coming weeks to oppose the proposals that are imminent. I will in this post try and exam a number of issues.
An honest appraisal of the campaign so far, the unspoken truth about the re-introduction of fees and the options available to us in the campaign against fees.
To date the campaign against the re-introduction of student fees has failed.Having set out with the objective of stopping fees in any form, the introduction of legislation in the next week or two, to allow for fees to be brought back in means the campaign to this point has failed.
Yes there have been some highlights. The stunning scenes when a generation of students characterised for their apathy took to the streets in huge numbers in November and in February where undoubtedly highlights. The arrests of anti fee activists, including several members of Ógra in attempting to get their message across to government ministers that they did not want fees were also notable.
The campaign has been weakened by the inability of students to stand together to oppose this. The failure of many individual students unions to take a firm pro-active hardline, the inability of USI to manage a sustained campaign as a body and the division of the student body as a result of the formation of separate anti- fee groups have combined to weaken the campaign greatly. This weak leadership has been unsuccessful in stopping legislation being brought before the Dáíl.
The development of the campaign in the coming weeks requires student unity. The manner in which students are to conduct this campaign however must differ from the methods used already. It is clear that in spite of mass agitation, blockades and arrests the government have not, nor do they want to get the message - students will not stand for a re-introduction of fees.
That said it is now time for the government to hold their hands up and admit that they have made an absolute dog’s dinner of the education system (not just the third level sector). They have in spite of enormous wealth, failed working class communities in the 26 counties. The emphasis they placed on a low tax Ireland in the good times, has now come back to bite the government firmly in the backside in the bad.
They cannot be allowed to make the youngest members of society, those who have had absolutely no responsibility in leaving the country in the mess we now find ourselves in, the soft touch in their proposals to balance the books.
The government must also hold their hands up and say that they have under funded the third level sector over the last ten years. That rather than attempt to tackle social inequality and educational disadvantage (as they claim) the government are bending over backwards to appease the Presidents and Provosts of the third level sector as they attempt to drive their respective institutions up league tables.
Indeed it has to be said the unspeakable truth of the entire fees debacle is that the government has been committed to re-introducing fees from last summer when Batt O’Keefe first floated the idea. Furthermore given the current state of the economy the government in relying on the third level sector and the much hyped ‘knowledge economy’ to dig them out of this hole. To put it bluntly the third level institutions – more accurately the President of UCD and Provost of Trinity have the government backed into a corner.
If the government where truly committed to tackling social and educational disadvantage as they claim, they should tackle the archaic grants system that is in place. They should tackle the poor availability of affordable student accommodation, book and other materials. Costs relating to living away from home for many students can reach as much as €8,000 per year and the lack of a suitable grants system leads many students to work long unsociable hours often suffering at the expense of their studies just to ensure they have enough money to feed themselves. These are issues that must be tackled if participation at third level for working class students is to increase.
It is my opinion therefore that the next phase of our campaign to stop fees should focus not on stopping the proposals from the government coming forward but in ensuring that they won’t pass through the Dáil. This can only be done in one way, through pressure on the TDs that can make the decision. In this instance I would propose that this campaign focuses on those Independent and Green Party TDs from whom the government need support for their imminent proposals to be passed. This should be done not through counter-productive measures such as storming offices or intimidating the representatives, it can be done through letter writing and it can be done through phone calls to their constituency offices.
These representatives need the votes and transfers of students and their families to get elected and it is up to these students and their families to make their feelings known. It is critically important that the Independent and Green TDs that prop up the government know they and their party will not get student votes or preferences at election time should they vote for the re-introduction of third level fees in any guise.
If students needed any more warning about what the re-introduction of fees in any form could mean, they only need to look at the recent study in England and Wales that revealed that third level heads there want to increase fees by at least 100 per cent to £6,000 a year. The re-introduction of fees in the 26 counties (or any other type of fee payment scheme) would undoubtedly be the start of a slippery slope.
It is critical that the New Ireland, the one that emerges in the aftermath of the present financial difficulties is not merely a return of the get rich quick ways of the Celtic Tiger.
The present situation does not need minor changes. What Ireland needs is a radical new direction something that the present government is incapable of offering. But it is what we must demand.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic – How relevant is it in the 21st Century?
Roy Garland, Brian Feeney, Tommy McKearney and speakers from various political parties.
Elmwood Lecture Theatre @ 7pm
Everyone welcome – Bígí Linn!
Organised by the Sheena Campbell Cumann QUB
These recruitment drives have been ongoing with the British Army having a stall at the fresher’s fair in September.
“I was appalled at the presence of the British Army at the university. The British war machine is an occupying force in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, and should not be allowed to recruit young Irish students. They promise students adventure, excitement and good career prospect when in reality all they will be doing is giving their lives to an imperialist power that will use them to invade and occupy other countries.”
“Here in Ireland we are trying to build an inclusive and demilitarised society. It is a disgrace that following the outrage and controversy the RIR ‘victory parade’ caused, that they would choose to target a majority nationalist university. It is outrageous that the British Army is allowed by Queen’s University to recruit their students. It is an affront and insult not only to republicans but to all those who protested against the war on Iraq. I call on all Queens’s students to reject the presence of this war force on our campus and for the University to no longer permit them to recruit”.
The march was led by Cullyhanna republican flute band and Ógra Shinn Féin members to the Hunger Strike Memorial outside Sheelagh Chapel.
Proceedings were chaired by Louth County Councillor and Sinn Fein European election candidate Tomás Sharkey, who welcomed the large crowd before the main speaker, Minister Conor Murphy MP MLA, gave his oration.
Conor Murphy told the crowd,
"Keith was a young man of just 24 years of age with a full life and a lot to look forward to"
"In dying, he left behind a grieving family and today we again extend our sympathy to his mother Theresa, his father Martin, to his sister Michelle, her children, and to all his family, friends and comrades.”
“The people that murdered Keith are not republicans. They may try to justify their cowardly act in whatever way they wish. The fact is that they murdered a young republican for their own criminal aims."
“Sinn Fein has achieved a new way forward for Irish republicanism. We will now bring our struggle to its just conclusion by peaceful and democratic means.”
10 years of Venezuelan Revolution
10 years of social progress and democracy
2.30PM QUEEN'S STUDENT UNION CLUB ROOM 3
7PM CULTÚRLANN, FALLS ROAD
Find out how Venezuela is setting an example for Latin America and the rest of the world
Main speaker: Francesco Merli (Hands Off Venezuela Int. Campaign)
Organised by: The Fourth World War, Mondays 6.30pm & Thursdays 1pm Féile FM 103.2
Please pass on
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sorry for the long delay in posting folks, I have no excuses, I’m not busy studying, not busy working, not busy with party work or praying, no nothing like that at all – just downright bone idle lazy.
There you have it, but hey at least I’m honest unlike other bloggers…
Anyway it’s back to the world of blogging for me, hope you leave a few comments and keep me posted on anything that deserves a wee satirical analysis.
Just to start the ball rolling, I never fail to be amazed at the downright ridiculous stupidity, irony and hypocrisy of the loyalists.
The racist, anti migrant workers and combat 18 aligned unionist death squads had Egyptians, the Shoukri’s, at the helm for a while. I wonder how many migrant workers the ‘Aryan’ Shoukri’s and their boys drove out?
The recent gem of loyalist genius has the loyalist Rangers fans giving a Nazi salute with the Israeli flag flying proudly beside them. What would Nazi Nick and Johnny ‘third person’ Adair say?
The irony is lost on these towers of intellect.
Quite the picture postcard of fine upstanding international supporters of Israel, they would probably look more at home at a Fine Gael Ard Fheis – blue shirts ahem.
And I really can’t highlight this act of brainlessness without referring you all back to the RSFer decked out in full Celtic gear, highlighting his opposition to foreign games…
What more can I say?
The picture says it all – With these examples of Stephen Hawking academia, thank god (or Jebus for any atheist Simpson’s fans) that we have a Sinn Féin Education Minister to sort this mess out.
Is there anymore proof needed for the abolition of the 11+?
The weekend began on Friday evening with the launch of Eoin O’Broin’s new book, and a discussion on Left Republicanism.
This set the context for the weekend, with a lot of debate focussing on a new left alternative and our economic outlook, with a further discussion the next day led by local Councillor David Cullinane on the economy, following a protest in Red Square calling for job creation at this time of crisis.
An extensive leaflet drop of the town centre was then undertaken with ‘Educate to be Free’ pamphlets.
Also as part of the weekend, the history of Waterford was traced on a walking tour on the Saturday morning, and a talk on the Irish language was facilitated by Peader DeBluit before delegates watched the triumph of Ireland’s Rugby team edge to grand slam victory.
Speaking on behalf of Ógra Shinn Féin Waterford, Seán Ó Briain stated –
"This was our first, but certainly not our last youth weekend to be hosted in the Déise. I would like to personally thank Eoin, Peadar and David for providing us with thought-provoking speeches. All were brilliant in their own right, and it really assisted in adding educational substance to the weekend."
"I would also like to thank all activists who travelled long distances across Ireland from Tyrone to Cork, to make this event and for participating in the weekend's activities and assisting in accommodation. It was great to see huge numbers protesting the streets of Waterford, in solidarity with the many people of Ireland who are losing their jobs at an unfathomable rate. The response from the Waterford public was very positive."
During the run up to Easter Sunday Republicans wear the Easter Lily to remember their patriot dead.
Currently the Easter Lily is banned in many work places and schools and in the past Irish Republicans have been harassed and arrested for promoting the Easter Lily.
“We will be promoting the equality of Easter Lily from now until Easter Sunday by calling on the people of Derry and further a field to proudly wear an Easter Lily. We are asking for young people especially to wear one and to promote them in their schools.”
“This event will touch on all aspects of education, the main areas which we are focusing on is the cost of Living which University students have to face on a daily basis, An Ghaeilge- that every pupil in secondary school should have access to Irish Language education, the 11+ we are totally supportive of Catriona Ruane’s decision to abolish this elitist system and of course tuition fees which are a regular worry for families looking to send their children into third level education but are worried about the repayments.”
“We are planning to expand on this campaign and are already focusing on our next step which is to leaflet every secondary school in the City.”
Monday, March 23, 2009
Firstly members of Ógra Shinn Féin gathered at the main campus to highlight the educate to be free campaign. Flyers were handed out and activists were met with genuine enthusiasm by students.
Later on that day Ógra joined members of the anti fees lobby ‘free education for everyone’ to distribute leaflets highlighting the gross income of the University President who along with his cohorts in the other universities are demanding a reintroduction to fees to plug gaps in third level budgets.
Commenting on the day’s events ÓSF NUIM activist Cathal Donnelly said,
Friday, March 20, 2009
The educational focussed campaign aims to highlight and lobby on issues including, student fees, non commercialisation of education and the right to education through the medium of Irish.
One of Dublin’s busiest area’s, Busáras, was leafleted extensively with thousands of pamphlets distributed to a wide range of people.
“With the recent budget cuts in the 26 Counties, Education is one of the worst hit areas, with proposals to drain money from an area already needing much needed investment and funding.”
“Those most in need of vital educational services will be further persecuted in this assault on public spending, and Ireland’s future generations will suffer greatly as a result.”
Sunday, March 15, 2009
UCC spokesman Alan Conway speaking at the leaflet drop had this to say,
“In my opinion, not enough organisations attempt to engage with young people, so it’s great for Ógra to be able to get out there and spread our message. I feel that people were quite receptive to us, and we got a good reaction, particularly because younger people are normally ignored by political groups."
“Ógra in Cork will continue to campaign for educational equality, with the horrific cuts in special needs education a particular focus.”
“I mo thuairim is scannal é. Tá sé ar intinn ag an stáit ciorraithe uafásach a dheánamh ar oideachas do páistí le riachtanais speisialta, agus ag an am céanna tá go leor airgead acu chun cabhrú le baincéirí. Beidh Ógra anseo i UCC ag leanúint leis an togra seo, mar creidimid gur ionsaí ar ghrúpa gan chosaint é seo."
This actions is just one of many that Ógra will be carrying out across the state over the next number of weeks and months, as the ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign will be rolled out to inform and engage young people on the threats to their education.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Former Basque political prisoner and hunger-striker Inaki de Juana attended a hearing at the Belfast Courts yesterday. Members of the Belfast branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees and supporters stood outside displaying a banner and flags.
After months of discussion on the matter Judge Burgess decided today that the alleged offence of “glorifying terrorism” claimed by the Spanish Special Court has its equivalent in British law. This decision means that Inaki de Juana could eventually be extradited to Spain. However the decision is not final yet as his defense team will appeal against it.
Belfast-based Basque pro-independence activist Inaki de Juana spent 22 years in prison completing not only his sentence to the full but also three extra years for writing a newspaper article where he criticised the prison system. Now, the Spanish authorities want him because of a letter allegedly written by him and read out at his welcoming-home event. The letter ended with a popular Basque saying which can be translated as “forward with the ball” and it’s been interpreted by Spanish judges as “keep on with the armed struggle”. Inaki never attended the welcoming party and denies writing the letter. Even the Spanish police say they don’t have such a letter.
Such a ridiculous case has to be understood in a context of harassment and brutal repression against Inaki, the Basque political prisoners and the pro-independence movement.
Pamphlets where distributed outlining the issues which the campaign aims to highlight and impact on, including student fees, 11+ and Irish Language education.
Speaking on the local day of action in Fermanagh, Chris Conwell said,
“The ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign is very relevant to young people nationwide, rural and urban, and it allows us to participate, educate ourselves, and have a say on the future of education in Ireland.”
“Today’s action in Fermanagh was well received by the young people and students we engaged, and we look forward to extending and building on this important issue in the year ahead.”
Opening the launch John O’Dowd MLA stated,
“Today Ógra Shinn Féin is launching a campaign called ‘Educate to be Free.’ The campaign sets out to work for equality in our education system north and south, and bring Sinn Féin’s message on education to young people.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Johnny McGibbon explained the reasoning behind the campaign,
“Education is the most important aspect of our society. It affects all citizens at some point in their lives and Sinn Féin has treated it with the appropriate degree of seriousness. Sinn Féin took up the Ministry for Education here in the north, when many others were trying to avoid it. We took the challenge head on, and are now trying to bring about the real change and equality needed within our education system.”
Ógra Sinn Féin Equality Spokesperson Gemma McKenna outlined future plans and said,
“Over the coming months we will be campaigning on issues such as tuition fees, post primary school reform, budgets and adequate provision for those being educated through the Irish language. Fundamental to our campaign is the belief that education is a right for all, and not a privilege. All children must have equality of opportunity in our education system.”
BATASUNA wants to underline that currently in Ireland, and as consequence of an inclusive process of dialogue and attacks against British Army and PSNI members in Ireland.
BATASUNA wants to underline that currently in Ireland, and as consequence of an inclusive process of dialogue and negotiations, Irish people’s Right to Self determination and to reunification is recognised in the Good Friday Agreement.
Today in Ireland republican goals can be achieved through peaceful and democratic ways thanks to the peace process leaded by the republican movement. Today Irish genuine aspirations can become true through democratic means. There is enough democratic space for it; Irish people have the voice for it.
And it has been because of the long lasting, perseverant and consistent struggle of Irish republican movement, of the heroic resistance of Irish volunteers and activists, that today Irish people have this democratic scenario. And it is because of the daily political struggle of Sinn Fein that a United, Gaelic, Democratic, Socialist Republic is closer to become a reality.
The republican leadership has moved forward from an undemocratic scenario to this current democratic one and it will be the republican leadership who will end with British presence in Ireland and will unite the island.
BATASUNA expresses its complete solidarity and support to SF and the Irish people on the defense of the Irish peace process and the democratic scenario.
Caolan is also the chairperson of Jordanstown Sinn Féin and sits on the officer board of the party’s university structure in Ulster.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Thousands of pamphlets where distributed at the entrance of all main schools and the Omagh Colleges as the students poured out at home time.
The ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign inspired by Thomas Davis’ famous essay, covers many key issues including Irish language education, cost of living, tuition fees, 11+ and budget cuts.
West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson, Kerry McColgan said,
“Education is a massively important issue, and one which we as young people need to have a say on. Republicans have an all Ireland egalitarian vision for Education, and that is why Sinn Féin have taken up the Education ministry in the assembly, and why we are currently the most vocal in opposition to fees in the 26 Counties.”
“The ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign allows us to get active on and highlight the most pressing issues on Education across Ireland and through raising awareness and lobbying on these issues we can progress and popularise our demands.”
“We intend to step up the campaign throughout Tyrone in the coming months, and are intending to erect a number of murals, host public talks, and hold a number of protests, and develop more initiatives that broadens the campaign to the widest group of young people.”
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
There were also two public talks, entitled “Unmanageable Revolutionaries” and “Hannah Sheehy Skeffington”, delivered by feminist author Margaret Ward. She outlined just some of the key events in Irish history, and how the role of women has been very much underplayed or even air brushed out. The hugely interesting discussion was followed by an entertaining performance by local actress and former Republican POW, Rosena Brown. The unexpected sketch made a clever mockery of all the traditional misconceptions and stereotypes asscoiated with women. This was a fitting end to a fantastic event.
Ógra Shinn Féin Gender Equality Officer Gemma McKenna commented,
“Today’s event was hugely enjoyable and fitting way to mark International Women’s Day 2009. We had a wide variety of activities in the Fresher’s fair, from face painting to massages to information stalls on international solidarity. We also had several Sinn Féin stalls, including one organised by Ógra and another by Roinn an Chultúir.”
“The talks delivered by Margaret Ward were excellent. I think they proved hugely educational, and everyone really enjoyed the day. The sketch to conclude the day’s event, delivered by Rosena Brown, was a brilliant way to end. Rosena used the medium of drama to highlight the misconceptions and stereotypes still associated with women by some people.”