Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ógra Shinn Féin attend Dublin Pride

Ógra Shinn Féin activists attended Dublin Pride march on Saturday 27 June. The Capital’s Gay Pride March was the culmination of a week of events and it was the biggest yet, with Ógra joining over 12,000 people marching in support of LGBT rights.

Ógra activists held a banner which read ‘Gay Rights are Human Rights – Respect Equality and Diversity’, chanting ‘cearta daonna chách – human rights for all’ and they spoke to many gay rights activists during and after the march, finding out of about various campaigns and issues which Ógra can assist with.

Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson, Ross Taylor said,

“The massive turnout in support of LGBT rights was testament to the great work being carried out by the LGBT community and the organisers of Dublin Pride Week. They have been tireless in campaigning for equal rights for the gay community, and deserve to be applauded for their sterling work.”

“Irish Republican’s are working for the achievement and establishment of an Irish Republic that guarantees equal rights for all of its citizens, so it is right and necessary that Ógra Shinn Féin stand in solidarity with the LGBT community whenever and wherever we can.”

“We look forward to building on the links we established at the weekend, to increase our campaigning on the issue of gay rights, and we are committing ourselves to have strong presences at all future Pride events across Ireland. We will also be at the Belfast Pride march on Saturday 1st August and we would encourage all who support equal rights and human rights to turnout in solidarity.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sinn Féin Protest British Armed Forces Day in Craigavon

Local Sinn Féin members held a protest against the marking of British Armed Forces day at Craigavon Civic Centre, this past Saturday. The protest comes after the recent decision by unionist members of Council, to fly the specially commissioned flag. The issue has been contentious for sometime and is currently under investigation by the Equality Commission.

Sinn Féin Councillor Johnny McGibbon commented,

“It is worth noting that the decision to fly this flag was taken without any equality or legal advice. The UUP and DUP decided to use the opportunity to mark out territory and send a signal to the nationalist/republican community that they are not welcome in Craigavon Civic Centre. The ripple effect of this type of poor leadership can be seen in Lurgan and Portadown town centres, where the erection of illegal bunting and flags has made the town centre economically barren.”

Spokesperson for Ógra Shinn Féin, who helped organise the protest, Tiarna McCorry said,

“The nationalist experience of the recent conflict is part of our history and cannot be dismissed. Equality in civic and public spaces is the right of all sections of the community. Today’s protest was organised to highlight our dissatisfaction for this triumphalist display, and to publicly show our support for the families and victims of state violence and collusion.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Na Fianna Éireann proudly remembered in Derry

Ógra Shinn Féin Doire organised a fitting commemoration for the 100th anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann in Shantallow on Saturday 27th June.

A large crowd gathered at the Republican monument beside Shantallow Shops for the launch of a commemorative booklet and the unveiling of a mural, both dedicated to remembering Na Fianna Éireann and in particular, local young republicans who where involved in Na Fianna and later paid the ultimate sacrifice for Irish freedom.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McLaughlin spoke passionately at the event, addressing the crowd of the absolute importance of young people in every phase of the struggle, and praised the local Ógra cumann for their campaigning and activism, which is ensuring the spirit of republican youth burns strong today.

The special edition booklet, was compiled by Ógra Shinn Féin, and presented to the families of the Fians and Volunteers, by Martin McGuinness and Martina Anderson.

The Na Fianna Éireann roll of honour was also read out by Ógra activist Adrian Óg Kelly, and a minutes silence was observed before Amhrán na bhFiann was played.

Following the presentation of the booklet to family members, local Ógra activists joined Martina and Martin to officially unveil the mural, dedicated to all the young Fians who lost their lives in the most recent phase of the struggle.

Speaking at the commemorative events, Derry Ógra activist Adrian Óg Kelly said,

“This year marks the 100th Anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann, and it is right and fitting that ‘Na Fianna Martyrs’ cumann Doire, would commemorate the first republican youth organisation. Na Fianna has a strong history in Derry, and played a huge role in recruiting, training and educating many young republicans across the city. It provided a platform where young republicans could become involved in the struggle, developing their politics and activism, Ógra Shinn Féin provides that same platform today."

“It was particularly humbling to have families with us, they have suffered immeasurably in this struggle, and we are determined to achieve the objectives for which their loved ones died. We are extremely proud of all the young people from across Derry and Ireland who have laid down their lives for the establishment of an Irish Republic, and we hope that our commemorative events through the booklet and the mural can help keep their spirit and their memory alive, continuing to inspire future generations of Irish youth to take up the cause for which they died.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

Opposing British ‘Armed Forces Day’ at Belfast City Hall

Ógra Shinn Féin protested at Belfast City Hall today opposing the move by the City Council to fly the British army flag as part of ‘armed forces day.’

The republican youth group, alongside Sinn Féin activists, joined in solidarity with RFJ (Relatives for Justice) and the victims of British state murder and collusion to highlight their opposition to the controversial decision.

While the Belfast City Hall gates where adorned with large black ribbons, the protesters held banners with anti collusion and state murder slogans on them. The assembled crowd was addressed by the RFJ director Mark Thompson, and Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly before 70 black balloons where released into the air representing all the young people who were murdered by the British Army.

Speaking at the protest, Ógra Shinn Féin activist Chris Conwell said,

“Ógra Shinn Féin joined in solidarity with RFJ and the families of those murdered through British state violence, to demonstrate our anger and disgust at this blatant triumphalism. The decision by Belfast City Council to fly the British army flag is an attempt to create a hierarchy of victims and make the council a cold house for nationalists and republicans.”

“Ógra Shinn Féin have constantly stood with the families in their long struggle for truth and justice, we have consistently campaigned for truth around the many cases of collusion and British state murder, and opposed other coat trailing acts of triumphalism by the British Army, like the UDR/RIR ‘homecoming parade’ in Belfast last year. We have also campaigned vigorously for the Demilitarisation of the British War Machine in Ireland, and this further attempt at glorification of a foreign murder machine was rightly challenged today, not only by political activists, but also by those most affected by its brutal legacy in Ireland, the families of the victims.”

“This brutal murder machine still acts as an army of occupation in Ireland, and continues to engage in the same acts of state murder and collusion in Afghanistan and Iraq today. It is disgusting that an army engaged in daily massacres of men, women and children, can be afforded official recognition by some sections within Belfast City Council, they should be ashamed of themselves. We will continue to oppose the British War Machine and stand in solidarity with the families of their victims, in their rightful case of truth and justice.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Generation - New Opportunities

Gemma McKenna
Ógra Shinn Féin

Regardless of class, religion, race or gender all young people in our society have new opportunities that were not available to our parents.

As the younger generation we have a civic responsibility to seize the opportunities given to us to shape our society for the better. We need to rise to the challenges that lie ahead and although we have inherited many difficulties from the older generation we need to come forth and overcome those obstacles.

It is only though engagement and action not apathy that we can build on the foundation that have been laid down for us and also rectify the mistakes others have made

The peace process has carved the way for lasting peace and increased co-operation between republicans and unionists.

While this is currently happening through outreach programmes at interface areas between ex prisoners and community organizations, much more needs to be done. In order for our society to move forward we need to tackle sectarianism at its very core.

This can only be done by engaging and debating with unionists. Ógra Shinn Féin has begun to do this through participating in a group with all the youth wings within the north and together finding solutions to problems that affect young people.

It is currently working on tacking mental health issues that young people face.

Increased co-operation between unionists has been occurring through the power-sharing institutions. We now have a unique opportunity to debate on our differences and ultimately move our society forward together. Without us, the next generation the peace process can not be sustained or moved onwards, we have a key role in ensuring that young people support the new political agenda that all the main parties are involved in.

We have the chance to be a society where different cultures; religions and race can live side by side. This is not an easy task and building communities that welcome differences not exclude and divide can only be done by changing the mindsets of those who live within them.

Racism is becoming a key feature within Ireland and can not be tolerated. We as the youth have a duty to ensure that every-one who lives in this country has their basic rights protected and the opportunities to grow and develop.

Increasingly we are becoming a selfish and inward looking nation but this has to change in order to build and grow as a community, a society or indeed a nation, we need to respect and cherish all those who live within it.

Under the current capitalism system this has not be happening, instead the bankers have been bailed out whilst the people of the nation are losing their lively hoods.

Job cuts, education cuts, health cuts, the lists goes on.

Young people have been protesting, campaigning against the current government led by Brian Cowen in order to ensure that the next generation will have a future. The recent election results show clearly the FF and the Greens have little support.

Neo liberalism is dead and so is the legitimacy of the current government. Thus it is now time to put forward a socialist strategy for government that is centered on the people not an elite.

However, many young people are not interested in politics and most do not even vote.

Apathy is indeed our biggest challenge to affecting any change. Regardless of race, gender, religion or political views all young people should be encouraged to participate in politics in whatever way appeals to them.

Through working with different sections of societies and campaigning on key issues such as suicide prevention, drug and alcohol awareness and the current campaign of educate to be free, Ógra Shinn Féin is engaging with young people and making politics relevant to their daily lives.

By educating each other through debate and discussion we are empowering one another so we can make changes to our communities. The huge changes I talked of previously can only happen through people working together and collectively changing the way we are governed.

As the new generation we also have the opportunity to build our nation towards a united Ireland.

Differences should not be ignored but welcomed and through debate we can understand and engage with every-ones views. Now is the time to be putting forward our vision of an Ireland of inclusion and equality. It is not a strategy that should be feared as at its center is all the people of this island.

We as the new generation all have the opportunity to change and create a New Ireland but many difficulties and challenges lie ahead.

The youth are always at the forefront of any radical movement.

If we want a different Ireland, a country that is united and socialist based on the principles of equality and inclusion then we must work to create it.

Being young is not an easy task, whilst we may have energy and enthusiasm we also have roles and responsibilities.

This is due to the fact that as the young people of this society, change and direction should come from us, we can not and must not leave it up to any one else.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Message from Segi

Dear comrades,

We are representatives of a people; our country doesn't appear in the maps, because the imperialistic French and Spanish state don't allow us to.

This is possible among other reasons, because the stateless peoples are prisoners of this liberal Europe that is controlled by capital and capitalists.

Euskal Herria has 3.000.000 inhabitants and this is the data of repression during 2008:

- 764 Political prisoners (Amongst them ETA activists, but also members of Batasuna (pro- independence left party), activists of SEGI and members of different popular movements, journalists newspaper directors...)
- 14.000.000 €; Costs of the dispersion policy (Consistent in spreading Basque prisoners throughout all the Spanish and French prisons as far as possible from Euskal Herria)
- 390 arrested
- 62 tortured (6of whom ended in hospital)
- 65 demonstrations attacked by police
- More than 100 injured during demonstrations
- 121 arrested in demonstrations

Those are the data of Zapatero's and Sarkozy's democracies.

Even more, during this last months we have came back to the darkest moments of the dirty war. They have disappeared the Basque activist Jon Anza.

And all the information that we have nowadays point the states as responsible, unfortunately it seems that we are facing another case of dirty war, Zapatero and Sarkozy, WHERE IS JON?

In front of all this the pro-independence youth movement for the liberation of Euskal Herria has made a tour all around Europe. Before the Gazte Martxa (Mountain Hike organized by the youth movement in Euskal Herria).

Several revolutionary international organizations debated around the struggle for other Europe. Our organizations were different and were organized in different ways but we had a common objective, building a Europe that will respect the right of peoples and youth. And with that target we exchanged experiences, ways of facing different themes...

The pro-independence youth movement has carried out a tour during May to spread the conclusions of those debates and explain which is our project towards other Europe, how does the Basque youth organize it shelf and which is the response of the Spanish and French state, during the month of may our representatives visited:

- Zurich 1-2
- Paris - Lille 14-15
- Brussels 16-17
- Berlin 14-15-16-17
- Copenhagen 14-15-16
- Granada -Cordoba 16-17
- Oslo 17-18-19
- Madrid - Valladolid 18-19
- Stockholm 20-21-21-23
- Barcelona – Villafranca -Valencia 21-22-23
- Santiago Compostela - Vigo 21-22-23
- Helsinki 24-25-26
- Roma - Firenze - Milan 22-23-24-25-26-27

We ended our tour with an action before the European elections in the Spanish embassy at Rome, with that action we wanted to thank solidarity and denounce the terrorist being of the French and Spanish states.

Euskal Herria is struggling for a free and rebel Europe, and the pro-independence youth is the new generation that picks up that baton.

We have to highlight also that we just faced the European Elections where the pro-independence left couldn't take part as a result of being declared illegal and terrorist by the Spanish state.

Fortunately solidarity amongst revolutionaries is never missing. We realize this in our everyday work and we have seen in this European tour that we have far more friends than enemies, and that all around there is people who believes in revolution and is ready to help and support Basque revolutionaries.

We have seen a wonderful example of that internationalist solidarity during last European elections, some organizations; with the support of others have created Initiative Internacionalista (Internationalist Initiative) that has overcome the fascist laws of the Spanish state.

The Spanish state even tried to outlaw the candidature headed by the famous playwright Alfonso Sastre, but they didn't manage to and so there was an option to vote for a revolutionary candidature that believed in freedom and justice; which defended peoples Europe, is willing to face capitalism; that was the reason for the pro-independence left to ask people to vote for them.

In the north of Euskal Herrian, Euskal Herriaren Alde appears as representative of the movement that will face French colonization and that was the reason for us to ask people to vote for them.

After the elections we had the surprise that there had been several cases of rigging and there was no clarification to the irregularities found during the European Elections in the Spanish State:

Those were different kind:

- Many votes were assigned to candidates who didn’t receive those votes. Example: In the Basque municipality of Amezketa (Province of Gipuzkoa) the party called POSI received 100% of the votes owned by Iniciativa Internacionalista.
- Valid votes were counted as invalid. Example: In the province of Guadalajara 50% of the votes counted as invalids were discovered as valid
- Increase of white and invalid votes has been huge and suspicious and there is not a clear explanation for that. Statistical analysis of the increase per region makes no sense. Despite participation on this polls was similar to 2004 polls, white votes increased 125.000 and invalids increased 50.000. The clearest case we find in Cataluña, a region where II votes were expected to be higher, there is 534% increase on white votes and a 366% increase on invalid votes.

In addition, citizens found different obstacles when intending to get the counting data coming from the double checking process. In front of this there is an initiative asking to know the truth.

We ask the international solidarity to sing for true as a person or as a collective: http://www.egianahidugu.org/en.html

Lastly, we thank all the youth that have participated on the activities of peoples Europe youth and rebel and made this tour possible.

We will meet on the struggle, revolutionary regards,

Borroka da bide bakarra!
The only way is the struggle!

No Pasarán!

Community Activist
Ógra Shinn Féin

The recent sickening attacks on the Romanian families in South Belfast are the most appalling form of racism that has manifested in recent times.

Not content with forcing the, over 100 vulnerable migrant workers from their homes on the Lisburn Road, the fascist thugs who carried out these attacks followed the traumatised people to their City Church shelter, and attacked the building, forcing the families, including a 5 day old baby, to flee again.

The type of people who carried out these attacks have no place what so ever in any society, and their attacks against the most vulnerable section of our society demonstrates the school yard bully mentality of these scum.

Their contrived fascist and racist actions are deplorable and they must be dealt with and ostracised completely from society, sending a clear and strong message to any other would be Nazi thug.

While the universal condemnation on the media, and the subsequent protests organised have been heartening, the failure of the PSNI to respond adequately and protect the Romanian families, and the abysmal failure of the working class unionist community leaders and politicians to confront the racism that has blighted their areas, must be challenged and put right.

How could the PSNI fail to protect over 100 Romanians, in an area so close to their station on the Lisburn Road? How could they subsequently fail to protect the families as they sought shelter in the City Church?

These questions need to be asked and those responsible for the absolute failure to respond to these racist attacks, must be held to account, and measures must be put in place to ensure that any attack of this in the future will be responded to as a matter of urgency and priority attached to it.

The recent attacks on the Roma families are the tip of the ice berg in regards racism and racist attacks in the North.

This has been bubbling under the surface for years and has been inadequately dealt with, the recent attacks on Polish families in Sandy Row, where over 60 fled their homes last month, and the attack on an Eastern European family in Moygashel County Tyrone this week, again forcing the family to flee their home, are but some examples of this hatred and bigotry.

The vast majority of these attacks are occurring in working class unionist areas, where loyalist paramilitaries have been building up links with white supremacist and neo Nazi organisations like Combat 18 from England.

The BNP have also made more attempts to organise in the North, and are targeting the same areas with their vile racist dogma.

Rather than dealing with the same sectarian attitudes that fuelled Loyalist paramilitaries and Unionist Death Squads, some supposed Loyalist ‘leaders’ are channelling the same narrow mindedness and hatred against the vulnerable migrant workers.

While much more needs to be done by Republican’s, to challenge the prejudice and racism that exists within our own communities, we can be confident that we are active in challenging both racism and sectarianism through our community activism and engagement especially with young people, and our elected activists have continually and very ferociously condemned these racist attacks publicly.

The same leadership and tackling of these evils are not as evident in the Unionist working class areas. This is worrying and must be addressed.

While the action needs to come from the ground, the community leaders and the residents, those elected to lead these people must use their influence to spark a debate and educate their communities about the wrongs and evils of racism, and the need to cherish a multi cultural society.

In the recent aftermath of the racist attacks in South Belfast, community artists on the Falls Road quickly painted a wall mural condemning the hatred and violence, and as an act of solidarity to the families.

Where similar initiatives taken on Sandy Row, The Village or the Shankill?

There needs to be a serious approach taken to challenging the evil of sectarianism and racism in our society and where communities fail the people, education must put them right.

There should be more emphasis in schools on the need to respect different cultures and traditions, and to highlight the many benefits of a multi cultural society.

And the Assembly, working alongside District Councils, community associations, trade unions, sporting organisations, voluntary groups and campaigning organisations, should increase their efforts to stamp out racism and sectarianism, demonstrating to the fascist thugs who carried out the most recent attacks, and the minority of brain dead Nazis who harbour these bigoted notions, how small in number they actually are.

Let us join together in challenging the prejudice and hatred that fuelled these disgusting attacks, and tell the fascists in one united voice;

No Pasaran!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mol an Óige Youth Camp - Bígí Linn!

The South Armagh youth group Mol an Óige will be hosting a youth camp this weekend 26 - 28 June, in Tí Chulainn centre, Mullach Ban, South Armagh.

The weekend of events will include; a talk by local republicans, mountain climb, youth marching band competition, disco and a band.

The cost of the weekend is £30 which will cover the entire clár including meals, and participants are encouraged to bring a tent.
The event is open to 14 - 18 year olds.
If anyone is interested in attending this action packed educational weekend, please contact 028 30888828 or email molanoige@ymail.com.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Martin Hurson Memorial Cup 2009 Launched

Sean Hurson

As we approach the 28th Anniversary of Volunteer Martin Hurson, who died on Hunger Strike on 13th July 1981, the family of Martin Hurson has launched the Annual Martin Hurson Memorial Cup.

This Gaelic Football Tournament now in its 24th year gathers together teams from throughout Tyrone and beyond annually to commemorate the memory of Martin Hurson. There are two tournaments played out each year the Ladies Cup and the Men’s Cup.

All games are played in Pearse Park, Galbally, Co. Tyrone and we extend an open invitation to everyone to come along and support the participating teams throughout the tournament.

An historical exhibition of the 1981 Hunger Strike will be on show each night of the tournament.

Men’s Tournament

The Draw for the Men’s tournament was made on Tuesday 16th June and nine teams will battle it out for the Martin Hurson Memorial Cup over the coming weeks. The teams involved are:

DONAGHYS – Carrickmore
LOUGHDOO – Kildress

The tournament officially starts on Monday 29th June with a derby match between Cappagh and Altmore in the First Round at 7.30pm while Finulagh and Galbally will play for a semi final place in the first of the quarter finals at 8.30pm

The other quarter finals will take place on Monday 6th July starting at 6.30pm with the current cup holders Hursons taking on Corleaghan Emmetts (Clogher). Donaghy’s (Carrickmore) will play Mc Anespies –(Aghaloo) in the second fixture of the night while Loughdoo (Kildress) take on the winners of the first round tie between Altmore and Cappagh in the last of the quarter final ties.

The Semi Finals will take place on Saturday 11th July at 5pm and 6pm with the Final taking place on the 28th Anniversary of Martin Hurson - Monday 13th July at 4.00pm.

Ladies Tournament

The Ladies tournament will be a little different this year as we look back at how the Martin Hurson Memorial Tournament helped revive Ladies football in Tyrone in the late eighties.

In 1988 the first Martin Hurson Memorial Ladies Cup was played with teams such as Mountfield, Altamuskin, Oonagh Celts and Carrickmore. Carrickmore won the cup in its inaugural year with Captain Finola McKernan lifting the cup after defeating Mountfield in the final after extra time.

More teams entered the tournament in 1989 such as Galbally, Omagh, Aodh Ruadh, St McCartans and Kildress to name but a few.

This year we are planning to look back over the 21 Years since the tournament started, by hosting a special “exhibition match” which will include players from the early days of the Martin Hurson Memorial Cup.

The family of Martin Hurson would like to extend an invitation to players who have played in the Martin Hurson Ladies Memorial Tournament in the first five years of the tournament, between 1988 and 1993.
Those who are available to play in the exhibition match on Monday 13th July 2009 at 2.30pm are asked to contact Sean Hurson – 07720445642 / seanhurson@yahoo.com before Sunday 5th July.

We would encourage all players from this era to come along and support the players who have agreed to play this match. It will give everyone a chance to meet up and remember their playing days in the Martin Hurson Memorial Cup.
Tournaments such as the Martin Hurson Memorial Cup, Kildress Tournament and the Glencull Ladies Tournament laid the foundations to the formation of the Tyrone Ladies County Board in 1991 and indeed to the current success of Ladies Football in Tyrone.

Spirit of Na Fianna burns strong at Campa Náisiúnta Óige ‘09

Knockatallon, County Monaghan, an area of outstanding beauty, with a rich history to match was the setting for the National Youth Camp 2009.

Young people from across Ireland gathered in the republican heartland on Friday 19th June to pitch their tents in anticipation of a weekend of education, debate, craic agus ceol.

The theme of the weekend ‘Republican Youth – A Century in Struggle’ was inspired by the 100th Anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann and the Campa Náisiúnta Óige 2009 wanted to re-capture some of the energy, education and inspiration from the original Fianna camps.


After successfully establishing base camp, the young republican activists gathered in Sliabh Beagh Community Hotel to be welcomed by the outgoing Mayor of County Monaghan, Councillor Matt Carthy.

Matt, a previous National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin thanked the young people for traveling long distances, and spoke of the importance of young people meeting up at events to educate and empower themselves, and to take a serious attitude to the weekend ahead, approaching the debates with confidence and of a mindset ‘as if we where in the control of Sinn Féin.’

He spoke of the importance of a constant stream of young people coming through in the struggle, and stresses that only a strong vibrant youth party, with educated, dedicated youth at every level of influence in the party, could we properly engage young people and convince them of our objectives.


Following the failte by Matt, and a big dinner, delegates and local young people assembled for the first talk of the weekend, ‘Republican Youth – A Century of Youth in Struggle.’

Pádraigín Uí Mhurchadha, a Sinn Féin councillor for 24 years, and sister of one of Ireland’s most famous patriots Fergal O’Hanlon and Barry McColgan, the National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin led the discussion.

Pádraigín spoke of her own experiences as a longstanding republican activist and of the great pride she holds for her brother, she spoke of Fergal’s life, his personal loves, and ambitions, including the burning ambition for his country to be free. She spoke of the regard in which Fergal was held in Monaghan, and following his untimely and tragic death alongside his comrade Sean Sabhat, there was a huge outpouring of grief across Ireland and a galvanizing of support for Irish republicanism, that has endured until today.

Barry touched on the 100th Anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann, and the significant role they played in Ireland’s freedom struggle. He spoke of the sacrifice that many Fian’s paid with their liberty and their lifes, demonstrating the conviction and sincerity of Irish Republican Youth, but also the huge role that Na Fianna played in educating and empowering generations of activists to become the leaders of the future whether in the Republican Movement or their community.

He said that the proud republican youth lineage of Na Fianna Éireann could be found in Ógra Shinn Féin today, who are continuing that invaluable role of recruitment, education and campaigning, and urged young people to look to Na Fianna, their actions and their sacrifice for all the inspiration they need to maximise our efforts to achieve an Irish Republic.

After an engaging and lively discussion which included some former Na Fianna members speaking of their exploits and experiences, a table quiz was held.

Following a table quiz, which shamed some and glorified others, the main entertainment for the night Paddywagon came on stage, playing a mixture of folk, traditional and rebel music until the early hours.
The dancing of the night before didn’t deter or tire the eager campers, who where up early for another day of education and debate.


The first talk of Saturday morning was with Basque activist Arturo ‘Benat’ Villanueva on the recently launched campaign ‘Don’t Extradite the Basques’.

Benat spoke about the current attempts by the Spanish Government to extradite himself and fellow Basque Inaki de Juana from their new homes in Belfast back to Spain.

The talk had to be conducted via a video conferencing as Benat is unable to travel outside of the North as part of his bail conditions set as a result of the repressive extradition request.

He spoke at length about the extradition requests which lacked any weight and where politically motivated and said they where an example of the wider repression by the Spanish government on the Basque people.
Many questions where asked of Benat, and following the talk, Ógra activists and young republicans developed different ideas and actions which could help highlight the case and bring pressure to bare on the British Government to stop the extraditions.

Workshops on ‘New Generation – New Opportunities’ followed with Gemma McKenna opening the session with interesting observations on new opportunities for outreach with the unionist community, and also the huge potential for outreach to left progressive groups and activists across Ireland.

The workshops produced much debate, with many practical measures being suggested on how Ógra can help assist and aid the development of a broad left alliance, encouraging co-operation through the youth wings, through youth at schools and in University.
It was also highlighted the Ógra are currently working with all the various youth wings in the North on the issue of youth mental health, and it was pointed too that projects like this are crucial in outreaching to young unionists, as mental health is an issue that affects us all, and is something we all need to be united in tackling.


After a hearty lunch, and a bit of a breather, delegates gathered for the last talk of the weekend, ‘Community Struggle – Back to Basics.’

Two speakers addressed the crowd, Jim Monaghan, one of the Colombia 3, a lifelong republican activist and published author, and Bromwyn McGahan, former Republican POW, member of the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle, and member of the Dungannon DPP.

Jim addressed the need for all republicans to involve themselves in community activism, and to be responsible to your community and play your part, however small, in helping empower communities and bringing a republican ethos to your area.

He gave various examples of community activism, and how small measures and an organized community response can politicize whole areas, rally people and prevent things like the privatisation of community land.

Jim said that community activism was one of the most vital aspects of Sinn Féin work and can play a huge part in promoting republicanism across Ireland, and building support and he asked was the Sinn Féin structure currently fit for purpose to facilitate the best delivery of that.

Bromwan McGahan spoke about policing and the community, and how young republicans can help in holding the PSNI and Gardai to account.
She said that young people will play a key role in ensuring that change is brought to policing not only in the north but also in the 26 Counties. She stressed that Sinn Féin’s approach to policing was on a 32 County basis with the long term objective of forming an All Ireland accountable civic unarmed policing service.

After much debate and ideas on how to progress the wider issue of community engagement, it was on to the bus, and around Fermanagh and Monaghan, visiting many historical sites and monuments.

Local historians and republican activists joined the group on the tour showing sites such as the Seamus McElwain monument, Roslea graveyard, Tony Ahern Monument, Mulligan’s house and the Pearse Column Monument, dedicated to Sean Sabhat and Fergal O’Hanlon.

Local people spoke at each of the sites, and at some of the monuments dedicated to our patriot dead, Ógra activists laid wreaths.

Many of those in attendance commented that it was the most interesting and engaging republican tour they had ever been on, and many questions where asked at all the spots.

Even the swarm of midges couldn’t deter their enthusiasm as a local commemoration was held for the various volunteers who had spent time in the Knockatallon area but where later killed on active service or as a result of British State Collusion.

Local young republican Ruari Cosgrove, laid a wreath on behalf of Ógra Shinn Féin at the monument and following an oration by local republican Sean Lynch, Barry McColgan addressed the commemoration on behalf of Ógra, saying that it was an honour to be amongst such resilient people, and thanking them for their warm hospitality which they have extended to republicans down through the decades.

The delegates arrived back in Knockatallon for dinner, followed by a night of craic agus ceol with music in the bar, a rock band in the hall, and an open mike session that continued on well after the hotel closed.
The undoubted star of the open mike was Ross with his eclectic mix of ‘Hallelujah’, to ’25 years’ and even a Basque song thrown in for good measure, although a Cork duo where close second with a lovely rendition of ‘My Lovely Horse.’


Surprisingly everyone was up bright and early, for Sunday morning, packing up their tents and sleeping bags, and grabbing some much needed breakfast before the long journey to the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration, starting in Sallins, County Kildare.

Continuing on the theme of the weekend, and to commemorate a century of youth in struggle, Ógra Shinn Féin had a Na Fianna Éireann colour party, with other Ógra activists carrying Na Fianna flags throughout the march.

The thousands of republicans coming together at Bodenstown to remember the father of Irish Republicanism was a fitting end to an excellent weekend. The spirit of Na Fianna Éireann burned strong and no doubt the memories, lessons, and inspirations of Campa Náisiúnta Óige 2009 will stay with all in attendance for the rest of their lives.
An Phoblacht Abú!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Educate to be Free Forum

Ógra Shinn Féin recently held a youth forum on Education in Dublin’s Teacher’s Club.

The ‘Educate to be Free’ Forum was attended by secondary school, university students, and young workers alike and was divided up into three sections.

The first part of the forum was a talk on the ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign and how we need to be proactive on various issues, including student fees, the 11+, Irish language education and the Bologna process.

Short presentations where delivered by Republican activist and author Jim Monaghan, UCD Ógra activist Mick Reynolds, and a member of the FEE campaigning group.

The second part of the forum included video showings on important aspects of Education, and the areas we need to highlight and campaign for change in.

And the last part of the forum was a debate on ‘Free education for everyone?’ with two Ógra activists arguing the merits of each of their position.

Their presentations will be posted on the blog soon to widen out the discussion, spark debate, and give people a deeper understanding of our position, and to aid preparation when asked to explain what we mean by free education and how we can fund it.

The debate that flowed was lively to say the least and no doubt provided much food for thought for all those in attendance.
Forums like this as where organised in Dublin are of great importance to engage young people on issues, and should be organised at a local level, with a local slant to interest young people where ever you live.

The ‘Educate to be Free’ campaign will see a boost throughout the summer month, allowing us time to organise and highlight the message effectively at freshers and new school terms.
Be imaginative, be a republican and get active on the campaign!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Protest Against Basque Extraditions

Don't Extradite the Basques
Picket outside court
Friday June 19, 9.30am

Hi all,

The Don't Extradite the Basques Campaign will be holding a picket outside the Laganside Courts in Belfast this Friday morning at 9.30am to coincide with the next appearance of Beñat Villanueva.

The appearance will be to discuss the response by the Spanish authorities to the Belfast judge's questions about the clear breach of the non-retrospectivity principle in the warrant for Beñat's arrest.

We are aiming to keep up the public pressure and highlight the serious flaws in both extradition requests at this protest - so please come along to show your support for Beñat and Iñaki and tell others about the protest!

Go raibh maith agat


Monday, June 15, 2009

West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin demand ‘Don't Extradite the Basques’!

West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin representative Kerry McColgan has called upon people to sign an online petition calling for an end to extradition proceedings against two Basque nationals currently living in Belfast.

Iñaki de Juana and Arturo 'Beñat' Villanueva have been fighting extradition proceedings after the Spanish government issued international arrest warrants for both men.

According to Miss McColgan if the men were extradited back to the Basque country they would face torture, prison and suffer human rights abuses.

“Ógra Shinn Féin fully endorses the campaign to end the political persecution of Inaki and Benat and support the call for them to live freely in Ireland. The attempts by the Spanish to extradite Basque nationals is the latest in a number of attacks on individuals and groups who support Basque independence.

“In recent months and years we have seen political and cultural bodies being deemed illegal and activist arrested an imprisoned. Youth organisations are also being deemed illegal and their leadership are being sent to prison for many years. It is clear to any impartial observer that the Spanish government are guilty of human rights abusers of Basque independence supporters and activists. Indeed many amnesty international reports would support this view.

“Ógra have seen the repression in the Basque country at first hand on numerous delegations to the country through the past number of years and demand that the Spanish government ends its campaign of criminalisation and political persecution against organisations and individuals that are in favour of Basque independence.

“We ask people to sign the petition at http://www.gopetition.com/online/28434.html and demonstrate solidarity to the two men who have made Ireland their home.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

British ‘Armed Forces Day’ – Coat Trailing Triumphalism

Chris Conwell
Ógra Shinn Féin

The recent decision by the British Ministry of Defence to hold British ‘Armed forces Day’ on Saturday June 27 and for a number of local council’s to vote in favour of hosting events to mark it in Ireland is unacceptable and must be challenged.

It is yet another attempt to glorify Britain’s Dirty War and to sweep under the carpet the fact that it was British state policy directed from the very top to murder Irish men women and children, citizens which they wished to rule.

This is a blatant act of provocation to the nationalist community, and the bigoted coat trailing triumphalism, must be opposed.

The war criminals that carried out the shoot to kill operations and state collusion should be in prison for their crimes against humanity, not being honoured by civic ceremonies in Ireland.

The only justified position for any right minded person to hold on these events is best captured in James Connolly’s last statement when he said,

“The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland.”
I would encourage all Ógra activists and young republicans to email the councils hosting these events for British ‘Armed Forces Day’ to highlight your opposition and to join with Ógra Shinn Féin in their events to oppose this bigoted provocation.
At the RIR parade last year Ógra Shinn Féin made it very clear that British solders are not welcome anywhere in our country weather they are in barracks, marching through our streets, or flying in our skies.

There has been a long running campaign, which Ógra has spear headed, to ensure that the British War Machine in Ireland is Demilitarised. Massive progress has been achieved reducing that foreign occupation from over 30,000 to 5,000 British Soldiers.
That progress was made through hard campaigning, and negotiations, let us take stock of that progress and continue to progress this issue until the British War Machine is completed Demiliatrised and the last British soldier is removed from Ireland.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Women in Struggle Interview – Cllr Toireasa Ferris

Gemma McKenna
National Gender Equality Officer
Ógra Shinn Féin

Hot of the trail of a European Election, where she helped doubled the Sinn Féin vote in the Southern constituency, narrowly missing out on becoming an MEP, Toireasa Ferris took time out of her busy schedule to do an interview with me for the women in struggle series.

How did you get interested in politics?

It was something that developed from my own life experiences..

Who has been your role model throughout your life?

There are so many, particulary when in our organisation like our own. in political life, Rita O’Hare, Ann O’Sullivan and many more like them, in my personal life my grandmother, considering the parents i have that says an awful lot about the person she was.

What did you learn from your time in Ógra?

That Matt Carthy and Pearse Doherty will one day lead our party to great things!

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

Co- chairing the 25th anniversary of the hunger-strikes commemoration in Casement Park, the single greatest honour of my life, nothing will ever beat that.

What were the difficulties of both being a councillor and Mayor?

Trying to remain impartial during debates in the council chamber!

What was the most enjoyable part of these roles?

I love constituency work, love fighting on behalf of those being denied their rights and as mayor we tried to open the office up to the people, give them ownership of it.

How do you balance being a EU candidate and a mother?

I don't! Unfortunately my Liadain doesn't get to see much of me at all.

It’s hard on both of us, but the only positive thing about my family being affected by the recession and Pa being out of work, is that she has one of us with her.

In fact, he’s doing a much better job than I was. In my absence he’s managed to get her out of our bed and into the cot AND sleeping through the night. Bring back the Calor house wife of the year award! Pa will be a serious contender!

What importance do you think Sinn Féin can have within the European Union?

I think we have a hugely important role to play, we are the voice of all the citizens across this island, indeed across Europe, who do not like the direction in which the union is moving. We speak and fight for those who want to see a more democratic, accountable Europe where the economy serves the people rather than the other way around.
How does the being in EU fit into Sinn Féin's overall strategy?

Well as Sinn Féin activists, we are motivated by the belief in social justice and equality, we want to see this for all people not just those here in Ireland.

What has been your greatest challenge yet?

Not to allow myself to be contaminated by Irish politics!

What challenges do you think young political activists now face and how can we overcome those challenges?

The challenge before us as young activists is to reform politics in this country to a system that we can be both excited about and proud of. To do this we need to convince our generation that it does not have to be this way, we deserve better and more importantly we can achieve much better.

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

I think we need to change the game, rhetoric and jargon - Career politicians need to go. We need more and more people who are affected by the issues to get involved to effect real change. But for them to get involved we have to make politics more relevant to them.

The pressing issues for all of us is what shape our future is going to take, for those of us in employment, will that continue, and for those just coming out of college or finishing a trade it's a question of whether there is anything there for them. We also are worried about what kind of an education we will be able to provide our children with and what care we will be able to secure for our parents if and when they need it.

Why do you think more young people need to get involved in politics?

We are the generation worst affected by the mistakes of our politicians and we are the generation that will bring about change
Quick fire Round:
Favourite Food: A Marie Ferris dinner
Favourite song: At the moment........ “Run” - Snow Patrol.
Favourite Films: Legends of the Fall, Cry Freedom.
Favourite past time: don't have any at the moment, SF don't believe in personal time!!
Favourite Book: Nor meekly serve my time
Favourite Quote: “Patriotism is supporting your country all of the time and your government only when they deserve it.”
Favourite Holiday resort: Have never been to one
Person most influential in your life: My grandmother
Person you would like to meet (living): Nelson Mandela
Person you would like to meet (deceased): Maire Drumm
If you were President of Ireland or Taoiseach what 3 things would you do to change Ireland?

Well the president only holds a ceremonial role, if I were Taoiseach I would:
1. Implement our policies on getting Ireland back to work and give some hope for the future to the hundreds of thousands out of work and their families

2. I would end the burden on our tax payers to subsidise private education and health and pension funds for the wealthy and invest that money in providing state of the art services for all the people

3. I would make sure all Irish politicians were able to contribute to Oireachtas debates and make real efforts towards uniting our country.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Derry Event to Remember Irish Republican Youth’s Patriot Dead

Ógra Shinn Féin ‘Na Fianna Martyrs Cumann’ Doire are urging everyone to attend an event on Saturday 27th June to honour Derry’s Republican Youth, in particular those young people who laid down their lives in pursuit of an Irish Republic.

People are asked to assemble at the Shanty Shops @ 2.30pm for the mural unveiling, book launch and presentation to the fallen Fian and Óglach families. Cllr Elisha McLaughlin, former Ógra Shinn Féin organiser will also be making a speech on the importance of young republicans getting active in the struggle, and the proud history of republican youth in Derry.

In order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann, Ógra Shinn Féin Doire has compiled a book about the local Fians and the Volunteers who were active in Na Fianna.

The event will also include the unveiling of a mural of the National Fianna Eireann Roll of Honour from 1969 – 1981.

The mural will be unveiled by one of the local Fian’s family members, and all families will be presented a special edition book by Martin Mc Guinness, Martina Anderson, Raymond McCartney and Mitchell Mc Laughlin as well as the young Ógra activists who made the book.

Please make every effort to attend and demonstrate your respect for Irish Republican Youth’s patriot dead. Bígí Linn!