Monday, August 31, 2009

Ógra Political Tour of North Armagh

Ógra Shinn Féin activists in Lurgan organised a political tour of the North Armagh area, this past weekend. The trip which took in Lurgan, Craigavon, Portadown and surrounding areas, explained much of the local republican history of the area and gave an interesting insight to the changing face of politics in the North Armagh area. Local republican Brendan Curran acted as tour guide for the day, reflecting on his experiences and discussing the various political developments in the area over 40 years of struggle.

Ógra spokesperson Fergal Connolly commented,

“Today’s tour covered many of the important points in the history of North Armagh. It was a chance for young people to learn about the role of IRA Volunteers and Sinn Féin activists, and the changes that have been brought about through decades of struggle.”

“We covered issues from Civil Rights right up to the current political situation; talking about British Army occupation and militarisation, Britain’s shoot-to-kill policy, collusion, IRA activity amongst other issues.”

He concluded,

“All in all, the tour proved successful, educational and enjoyable for all in those in attendance.”

Slogadh na nÓg 2009 - Bígí Linn!

Slogadh na nÓg 2009 will be held in Rath Cairn Co. Meath from the 18th-20th September. The weekend of events is being organised by North Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin to promote the Irish Language throughout Ógra Shinn Féin.

The weekend hopes to help in particular those with very little Irish or perhaps even those with none at all in order to learn cúpla focal.

The main themes of the weekend will be ‘Tir Gan Teanga ,Tir Gan Anam’; questioning why our language is so important to us and why throughout history key republican figures such as Bobby Sands and Padraig Pearse made it a priority.

There will be public talks, a historical tour of the Royal County, an introduction to sean Nós dancing, Ranganna Gaeilge, debates for the advanced learners and a rebel night.

Speaking on the upcoming Slogadh na n-óg North Leinster Organiser Caoimhe Ní Shluáin said:

“The weekend will be an excellent opportunity for young republicans throughout the country to come together to learn our native tongue, I feel it is important that comrades make the effort to attend. I know that some might be put off by the idea of an all Irish weekend but the weekend is organised for people to learn Irish. Even if comrades only come away with cúpla focal then that’s more than what they had arriving”

Beidh Slogadh Na N-óg ar siúil i Rath Cairn Co. Na Mí ón 18ú-20ú Meán Fómhair i mbliana. Is iad muintir Tuiscirt Cúige Laighean atá ag reachtáil an Slogadh an bhliain seo agus teastaíonn uathu dul chun cinn a dhéanamh ar an teanga. Ní hamháin daoine le Gaeilge atá in ann teacht ach daoine gan Ghaeilge ar bith. Tá béim iontach mór an bhlian seo ar dhaoine nach bhfuil focal Ghaeilge acu, beidh ranganna ar fáil dóibh siúd a fhad is atá an dream le Gaeilge líofa ag díospóireacht.

Is é téama na deireadh seachtaine ná ‘Tír Gan Teanga, Tír Gan anam’ agus muid ag plé cén fáth a raibh an teanga chomh tábhachtach sin do Bhobby Sands agus Pádraig Mac Piarais. Beidh roinnt caint poiblí, turas stairuil de chontae na Mí, ranganna rince ar an sean-nós agus seisiúin ceol gaelach ar siúl.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Newcastle Loyalist band parade offensive and wrong

Fra Cochrane
Uladh Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

The recent incomprehensible decision by the Parade’s Commission to allow a large Loyalist band parade through the prominently nationalist village of Rasharkin in county Antrim is yet another example, if one were needed, that shows why the Parade’s Commission is manifestly failing in its duty to adjudicate on these matters fairly.

As someone who attended the residents' protest on the night in question, I witnessed how despicably the bands behaved throughout what was unquestionably a sectarian coat-trailing exercise. Bands named after deceased Loyalist gunmen and carrying unionist paramilitary flags got the loudest cheers from the rabble bussed in to support the march.

The residents opposed to the event were hemmed in by riot police and steel barriers yet still made clear their anger and opposition to the event. Once again the rights’ of local people were trampled upon so bigots could exercise their right to march the ‘queen’s highway’.On Saturday the 12th of September, the Star of Maghera Flute Band is to host a similar event in Newcastle with up to 38 loyalist bands from throughout the six counties participating.

The fact that the parade will be held in a predominately nationalist town means it is not welcomed by the vast majority of local people and visitors to Newcastle who will find it grossly offensive and as equally unacceptable as the Rasharkin parade. From the hours of 7:30pm to 11pm, Newcastle will become a virtual no go area for residents and visitors alike who will be forced to go elsewhere whilst Loyalists, the vast majority of whom are not even from the locality, take over the town. The event, will also have serious implications for the local business community, particularly taxi drivers, publicans and food outlets.

To make matters worse, the organisers’ of the parade do little more than pay lip service to engaging with local people in an attempt to address their concerns. Despite this, no sanction is ever imposed on them for failing to even try and reach a more acceptable accommodation and as a result the people of Newcastle are treated like second class citizens.
Undoubtedly, as in previous years, Loyalist bandsmen and their supporters will be free to drink alcohol on the streets, urinate in people’s gardens, cause damage to property and sing and shout sectarian abuse at anyone who doesn’t share their warped sense of history. In all likelihood the Parade's Commission will give the green light for this parade, without even imposing minor restrictions. By doing so, they are treating local people with contempt. The potential is there to bring trouble to the town and this event should be banned.
The PSNI also need to take action. It is not good enough to simply observe the parade and allow supporters of the march to openly consume alcohol on the street, contrary to Council bylaws.
They need to identify the culprits and deal with them on the night or at a later date. The same must apply to bands who behave offensively or display illegal flags and emblems.
As always I would call on the public, especially young people, not to react to the behaviour of the bands and their supporters maintain calmness at all times for the benefit of the whole town.

Meath Ógra Shinn Féin education picket at FF HQ

Meath Ógra Shinn Féin led a large crowd on a picket outside the Navan offices of Fianna Fáil Minister Noel Dempsey last Friday. The picket was held as part of the ongoing campaign by Meath Ógra Sinn Féin against the severe cuts being introduced in schools around the county this week.

Sinn Féin Cllrs Peadar Tóibín and Navan Town Mayor Joe Reilly attended the picket. Ógra activist Daithí Byrne stated;

“Some parents have been hit with bills up to €800 for books and school uniforms, many parents will not be able to pay these amounts and their children will go without school books this term.”

The Meath Sinn Féin Cllrs have also tabled a motion for the September meeting of Navan Town Council calling on the government to reverse these savage cuts.

According to North Leinster Cúige Organizer Caoimhe Ní Shluáin;

”Fianna Fail and the Green Party have axed a raft of significant and important education services across schools in Meath. But they are not finished yet. If Fianna Fáil have their way and implement the McCarthy report a further 3400 teaching posts will be axed, small rural schools will be amalgamated, a further 2,000 special needs teachers will be axed, a further 1,000 language support teachers will be cut and the cost of school transport will be increased. These cuts are not necessary. It is a simple matter of priorities. Do we bail out the backs or educate our children.”



Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin slam latest education cuts

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin's Saturday stall became the centre of a protest today against the latest attack by the Fianna Fail/Green Government against education. Over thirty activists gathered at the GPO to distribute leaflets explaining the cuts.

According to Dublin spokesperson, Marcas Ó Mhaoldomhnaigh, many parents have been hit with bills costing hundreds of euro for books and school uniforms. "Many schools are set to lose special needs assistants and other vital resources. This government did not invest properly in the education system during the boom years and now we are seeing school children and their parents paying for their mistakes, it is completely unacceptable. Free primary education will truly be a thing of the past if we allow our schools to be further stripped of resources."

At the picket ÓSF National Organiser, Barry McColgan stated, "What makes these cuts particularly nauseating is that they are targeting children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. These cuts are not necessary. It is a simple matter of priorities. Do we bail out the banks or educate our children."

Click here to download an information leaflet on the education cutbacks

Thursday, August 27, 2009

North Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin launched and focused on challenging student fees

The Drogheda Sinn Féin Office was the venue of the first North Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin Cúíge meeting since the recent restructuring of the Leinster Cúige.

Core activists representing all areas of the newly formed Cúige attended the meeting on Saturday 22nd August. Many topics were raised during the meeting including how we in Ógra must be active and be engaged with our communities throughout the Cúige. One of the main topics of the meeting was the ever present fear factor of the re-introduction of third level fees for students.

Newly elected campaigns officer Bryan Holland spoke on how,

“The re-introduction of fees would cripple the students of the 26 counties, it would place a mortgage on their heads before they leave university, we in Ógra must step up to the challenge and oppose the re-introduction of third level fees, our message must be clear and simple, we must push our republican politics.”

Newly appointed North Leinster Ógra Organiser Caoimhe Ní Shluáin commented in the meeting, stating that,

“I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the meeting and the plans we have set in place for the Cúige to ensure that we are relevant within our communities and throughout the entire north Leinster area. I was also pleased to see that people made an effort to travel, and a collective team spirit was evident at the meeting, the future of North Leinster Ógra seems to be in very good hands.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rally to celebrate the closure of Mountpottinger Barracks – Bígí Linn!

Northern nationalists have been brutalised, intimidated and suffered degradation throughout much of the last century.

No more so than the besieged people of the Short Strand, a nationalist ghetto subjected to poverty as a result of an intentional and sectarian campaign of underinvestment and marginalisation by the Stormont government.

The marginalised and deprived residents of the nationalist Short Strand did not only have to contend with hunger, and poverty, but also where routinely attacked by loyalist mobs, backed by the ‘protestant parliament.’

Many Short Strand residents would be beaten, arrested, and murdered in state backed loyalist pogroms, even in the early 2000’s when loyalists went on the rampage attacking the minority nationalist enclave in East Belfast, ably assisted by the PSNI.

Yet the people of the ‘Strand’ remained steadfast, resilient, and unbowed throughout. A proud people, who suffered much but endured and overcome all that was thrown at them.

An everlasting symbol of this oppression, brutality, deprivation and murder, was the Mountpottinger barracks, first built in 1902 to contain and keep a watchful eye on those ‘unruly fenians.’

From the beginning of the peace process, Sinn Féin and Ógra Shinn Féin have consistently called for the demilitarisation of this eyesore and oppressive fort, to be dismantled so that the land could be utilised for community use.

So it is a momentous occasion that Mountpottinger barracks is indeed being put beyond use, consigned to the bigoted dustbin of history from which its long-term resident the RUC has also been consigned too.

Let us come together with the Short Strand residents to celebrate the closing of this monstrosity and symbol of oppression on Monday 31st August at 7pm. It is going away you know.
Bígí Linn!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ógra unveil commemorative plaque to Na Fianna

Ógra Shinn Féin unveiled a commemorative marble plaque to mark the exact 100th anniversary of the founding of Na Fianna Éireann on 16th August. The youth wing of Sinn Féin and members of the public gathered at the Tyrone Garden of Remembrance in Carrickmore for the unveiling of the plaque.

Carrickmore local Barry McNally chaired proceedings at the Garden of Remembrance prior to the National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Galbally.

The unveiling was carried out by Kerry McColgan, chairperson of the Hunger Strike Youth Committee and Francie Molloy MLA, who also gave the main address.

Speaking following the unveiling Barry McNally, chairperson of West Tyrone Ógra said,

“The foundation of Na Fianna, which happened 100 years ago, was the start of a more focussed attempt to involve the youth of Ireland in the freedom struggle. Of course young people had always been to the fore but Na Fianna provided the first organised basis to involve Irish youth in the struggle for national liberation in Ireland.”

“Whether it was in the 1916 Rising or the recent struggle in the north Na Fianna had proved their commitment to the struggle for Irish freedom.”

“We in Ógra are proud to remember the sacrifices of Na Fianna and are proud to remember the role they have played. Young people continue to be at the fore of our struggle and it is our task to build upon the work of Na Fianna and the wider republican movement and to deliver the ideals for which many gave their live to achieve.”

Ógra Shinn Féin Dinner Dance Celebrates Na Fianna Centenary

Ógra Shinn Féin recently organised a dinner dance to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Na Fianna Éireann. The dinner dance was hosted in Quinn’s Corner in County Tyrone on the eve of Na Fianna’s centenary, Saturday 15th August.

Quinn’s Corner was packed with a crowd who had turned out to commemorate this significant anniversary and to remember the vital role and the sacrifice that the many young Fians played in the struggle for Irish freedom.

Guest’s of honour on the night where the family of Fian Tobias Molloy who where presented with a special portrait of Bobby Sands.

A number of poems, ‘The weeping winds’ and ‘Young guard of Erin’ where read by Stephen McGahan and Aoife McNaught, before a short bio of Fian Tobias Molloy and Vol. Martin Hurson where read by John McDermott and Lee McMahon.

Throughout the formal proceedings Ógra activist and singer/songwriter Liam O’ Lapain sang ‘Flag of Na Fianna’, ‘Martin Hurson’ and ‘The Voice of Ógra Shinn Féin’.

The main speaker on the night was lifetime republican activist Jim ‘Flash’ McVeigh, a former Na Fianna activist, former political prisoner and last OC of the IRA prisoners in Long Kesh, who spoke very honestly and passionately of his time in Na Fianna, and the vital role that they played in the struggle, and the important role that Ógra activists continue to play today.
Following the dinner, Ireland’s biggest rebel band ‘The Spirit of Freedom’, provided the entertainment for the night, singing rebel songs into the wee hours.

Speaking on a successful dinner dance, Ógra activist Laura Gildernew said,

“We organised this dinner dance as a series of events, in order to fittingly remember the centenary of the founding of Na Fianna, and to commemorate the sacrifice of the over 50 Fians who have died in Ireland’s freedom struggle.”
“We were proud and honoured to host the family of Fian Tobias Molloy, and the former members of Na Fianna Éireann, who joined with us in a night of celebration and remembrance for the first republican youth movement.”

“100 years on from the founding of Na Fianna Éireann, we are mindful of the massive sacrifice that has been paid by the young activists who went before us, we are also mindful that much more needs to be done to ensure the freedom, and better society for which they died. Ógra activists and young republicans today are up to that task, and our inspiration is derived from Na Fianna.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dublin Ógra on frontline at Dublin docks

Dublin activists today took part in a march organised by the Dublin Port Workers Group, which have been locked in a bitter dispute with their employer Peel Ports Group. The dockers have held out for over seven weeks, and were forced to strike after their employer imposed force redundancies and introduced new contracts with pay cuts and worse conditions. Despite the company employing scabs from Britain, and a security firm made up of ex-SAS operatives, the communities of Irishtown, East Wall and Ringsend have stood by the dockers in support. The company also took a high court injunction preventing effective picketing. Dock workers from across Europe have sent messages of solidarity and after pledges of similar action, Rotterdam was shut down in support of the action in Dublin today.

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Daithí Byrne said; "Its great to see the communities of Irishtown, East Wall and Ringsend standing side by side with the workers, who have been treated despicably by their employers. We call on other communities to do the very same. If Peel Ports Group is successful, they could very well use the same policy to undermine workers throughout Ireland. Dublin Ógra will continue to support their ongoing protest and wish them every success as they continue to fight for their rights."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tyrone tour traces strong republican history

The O’Neill County boasts some of Ireland’s finest historical resistance. The tale of Tyrone is one of occupation and struggle for liberation.

From the ancient Gaelic chiefs of the O’Neill clan, to the modern exploits of Óglaigh na hÉireann, Tyrone has been to the forefront in resisting foreign occupation and leading the fight for Irish freedom.

The Tyrone landscape is dotted with sites of historical importance, and it made the ideal location for a republican tour, at the recent hunger strike youth weekend.

Setting of early Saturday morning (15 August) the tour bus winded its way from Gortin to Omagh, passing Mountjoy castle and the site where Volunteers Patrick Carty, and Sean Loughran from Tyrone and Dermot Crowley from Cork died in a premature explosion on June 25th 1973.

The first stop of the day was at a monument erected in Strathroy estate, Omagh, dedicated to the memory of the 3 volunteers who died less than a mile from the republican area. It was particularly moving that some young Cork men where present, demonstrating the solid links that still exist between both rebel counties to this day.

It was then off to Aughnacloy, where local republicans explained about the life and struggle of a native of the border town, Vol. Sean McCaughey. At a monument erected to McCaughey in the graveyard, the assembled crowd where told of Sean’s early life growing up in County Tyrone before moving to Belfast in search of work. His active role in the republican struggle was outlined in particular his courageous and selfless decision to embark on a hunger and thirst strike, dying after 23 days of protest on 11 May 1946, in Portlaoise prison.

The bus then made its way to Aghaloo GAA club, to the spot where Aiden McAnespie was murdered by the British Army on the 21st February 1988. Aiden’s Brother Vincent, and nephew and niece, Caolan and Sinead where present at the monument, with Vincy speaking about Aiden, and the events surrounding his murder.

Back on the bus, the tour made its way to the site of the Ballygawley Bus Bombing where 8 British soldiers where killed and 28 injured by a roadside bomb on 20 August 1988. The daring attack carried out by Óglaigh na hÉireann, was replicated in Lisburn later that year on 11 June where 6 British soldiers where killed.

As a direct response to the Ballygawley Bus Bombing, the SAS where trained on Tyrone, and less than 2 weeks following, an ambush was set, that would see the death of 3 of Tyrone’s bravest and finest Volunteers, Brian Mullin, and brothers Gerard and Martin Harte on 30 August 1988.
The site of the ambush, Drumnakilly, half way between Omagh and Carrickmore was the next stop on the tour where local Sinn Féin councillor Declan McAleer, a personal friend of the Harte family, spoke of the 3 men, and the events surrounding the ambush. Following a very insightful, and emotive contribution from Declan, Ógra activist Liam Lappin sang ‘The Drumnakilly Martyrs’ with all gathered, joining in for the final chorus.
An impressive memorial garden was erected last year in the centre of Loughmacrory village on the 20th Anniversary of the Drumnakilly ambush, and that would be the next stop for the bus, allowing all those on the tour time to appreciate the massive work that went into this fine monument, which is a fitting memorial to the 3 men, and a centerpiece of the small republican village.
Leaving Loughmacrory behind, the bus made its way through rural Tyrone to Castlederg. Along the way, many other stories where told, and events recounted, demonstrating the strong record of resistance of Tyrone republicans against the backdrop of occupation and massive repression.
The last stop on the tour was the Derg, at the spot where Lt Seamus Harvey and Lt Gerard McGlynn where killed on active service on 10 August 1973. Local Councillor Ruairi McHugh addressed the tour, speaking of the 2 men, and the huge pride that local people had for the men. He also spoke about Vol. Josie Connolly who died on active service on the 6th February 1989, and how much the loss of this popular young sportsman had on the close knit communities of Castlederg and Aghyaran.
He also spoke of Pádraig O Seanacháin, who was murdered by loyalist gun men on 12 August 1991 as he was on his way to work, and how loyalist paramilitaries had tried to intimidate the nationalist community over the years, but had failed time and again, only making them more resilient and stronger each time.
Speaking on the republican tour, Ógra activist Caolan McAnespie said,

“Republican and historical tours are deeply interesting and useful in educating our young people today of the conflict that has existed within our country from the day and hour of the British occupation. The most recent phase of struggle strikes a particular chord with people, as emotions are still raw from the loss of our loved ones, but it is important to remember what happened, and to talk about it, let people know the truth behind the conflict.”
“The many people who participated in the tour where struck by the openness of many of the speakers, in particular the family members, making it a very emotive yet memorable tour. The tour which stretched across Tyrone, also demonstrated how widespread, how sophisticated and active resistance was in the O’Neill County. We are confident that people are better educated on the republican history of Tyrone as a result of the tour and we aim to organise them on a more regular basis.”

Newsletter article on Basque Youth – inaccurate and dangerous

Emma Clancy

The News Letter article (19 August) which claims that last weekend's Tyrone hunger strike commemoration was attended by a member of “ETA's youth wing Segi” is inaccurate. Even the Spanish authorities do not claim that Segi is “ETA's youth wing”.

The Basque pro-independence youth movement Jarrai-Haika-Segi has been criminalised by the Spanish government over recent years not for anything even remotely related to armed actions but for carrying out peaceful, public and transparent political activities – which happen to be in favour of independence for the Basque Country.

In the lead-up to the criminalisation campaign, the Basque youth movement was gathering strength and in 2000, when the new national youth organisation, Haika, was established, more than 20,000 young people attended the group’s founding meeting.

The youth movement set about organising several thousand young activists in campaigns around social and economic issues, for youth and students’ rights and for Basque cultural rights through demonstrations, summer schools, youth camps and festivals. Fearing the political impact of a well-organised national Basque youth movement in favour of independence, the Spanish authorities responded by launching a propaganda campaign against Jarrai-Haika (which became Segi in 2001), falsely claiming unproven links between the youth movement and ETA and urging that Jarrai-Haika-Segi be outlawed.

But the UN's special rapporteur Martin Scheinin has strongly criticised the Spanish authorities for criminalising a wide range of youth and cultural organisations, political parties and newspapers which have absolutely nothing to do with “terrorism” but which share the ETA objective of Basque independence, saying this is a grave violation of the Basque people's democratic rights.

The impact of this draconian campaign is being felt here in Ireland where Belfast-based Basque activist Arturo Benat Villanueva is fighting extradition charges for allegedly being a member of Jarrai-Haika in the 1990s – when the youth movement was not outlawed until 2005 and not categorised as “terrorist” until 2007.

Former Basque prisoner Inaki de Juana is fighting extradition from Belfast on similarly ridiculous charges – of somebody at a rally celebrating his release from prison a year ago, which he wasn't at, saying “On with the ball”.

Well done to Ógra Shinn Féin for maintaining links with young people in the Basque Country who are peacefully struggling for their democratic and national rights, and for raising the issue here in Ireland through organising the petition against Segi's criminalisation.

Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dublin Ógra condemn British Navy arrival

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin is protesting against the arrival of the British naval vessel the HMS Mersey (P283) in Dublin Port. The vessel, which is armed with a 20mm cannon and two machine guns arrived in Dublin yesterday morning and is due to leave on Thursday at 0600.

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Mick Farrell said; ''This ship is representative of the same navy that is responsible for occupation and oppression across the globe. We are here today to tell the British Navy that there are not welcome in Ireland and to show our opposition to the display of British force. The open arm welcoming of this ship by the Government is insensitive and unacceptable.''

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Daithi Byrne has called on the Government as a matter of urgency to frame a coherent strategy to tackle the crisis in Irish fishing. This comes as the British naval vessel the HMS Mersey, which is responsible for harassing Irish fishermen in Irish waters, arrived in Dublin. Dublin Ógra questioned the Government on quota allocation management, the high level of fines imposed on Irish fishermen, and the Government's strategy to protect the Irish Box conservation area. "The restrictions placed on fishermen are making many feel that they are being criminalized for pursuing their livelihood.", said Daithi Byrne.

Successful ‘Youth in Struggle’ talk held in Strabane despite DUP attempt at censorship

The republican youth movement Ógra Shinn Féin have said they are ‘extremely pleased’ at the number of young people who attended their public talk on one hundred years of republican youth, despite being denied use of the town library’s civic room at the last minute.

The youth movement have said that approximately one hundred people turned up to the event on Saturday 15th August which was hastily moved to the function room of Joe’s Bar, to hear the experiences of former members of Na Fianna Éireann, Gerry O’Hara and Cllr Brian McMahon and also from representatives from the Basque and Catalan Struggles.

Commenting on the event Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Seán Mac Giolla Easpaig who chaired the event said;

“We are extremely pleased with the interest this event attracted from the public but more specifically the amount of young people who turned up. I think all on the panel spoke very well about their own experiences in the Fianna as well as our international comrades from both the Basque and Catalan countries who like ourselves are struggling for their national independence.”

“We are also disappointed at the decision taken at the last minute to deny Ógra Shinn Fein use of the library facilities for political debate. It is clear to us that political interference from the office of DUP culture arts and leisure minister Nelson McCausland had a profound influence on this decision. We believe that this amounts to abuse of this office in order to stifle political debate which is unacceptable in today’s society. We are now supposed to live in a healthy society in which political debate and dialogue is needed for mutual respect and understanding of those with opposing views. Banning political debate from public facilities such as libraries only serves to breed intolerance and foster division, something which a society like ours can do without.”

“We are pleased that the debate went ahead at an alternative venue and was a huge success, as was the national weekend of events organised by Sinn Féin and Ógra throughout county Tyrone where this year’s national hunger strike commemoration was held.”

Successful 1981 Hunger strike Public Talk in Omagh

The Lecture Theatre in Strule Arts Centre, Omagh was packed to capacity on Friday the 14th August with Ógra activists and members of the public alike, crammed into their seats, eager to hear an intimate and personal account of the 1981 hunger strike.

The three speakers on the night didn’t disappoint, with each speaking very openly about how the hunger strike had affected them, their family and their community, and the lasting legacy of the events of 1981.

Following a DVD showing, including news footage of Martin Hurson’s funeral and a tribute to Martin compiled by Ógra Shinn Féin, the talk was opened by chairperson Gemma McKenna.

The first to speak was nephew of Martin Hurson, John Regan, a young republican activist from Aughnacloy. John spoke of the stories his family shared with him of his uncle, and how they often made him laugh, he spoke of the easy going manner of Martin, and how he was always positive, as illustrated by his favourite saying whilst on hunger strike being ‘No Problem.’ John recounted the 25th Anniversary of the hunger strike, in particular the torchlight procession in Cappagh, with the whole place lit up, making him feel as ‘proud as punch’ to be Martin’s nephew. He told the audience that he thinks of Martin all the time, he is never far from his thoughts and that he is his hero.

Eibhlinn Glenholmes a close friend and comrade of Bobby Sands spoke about Bobby and the times she spent with him. She gave a very emotional and moving account of the impact that the hunger strike had on the friends and family of the men in Long Kesh and women in Armagh. Eibhlinn said that she could see the spirit of the lark in the young republican activists in Ógra today.

The last to speak was Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney, who spent 53 days on hunger strike in 1980. He spoke about the events of 1980 and 81, and the thoughts of the republican prisoners at that time. Raymond also spoke bravely of his own time on hunger strike, and spent considerable time talking of the proud legacy of the 1981 hunger strike and the massive support and lift in activism it injected into the republican struggle.

Following the talks, an enthused, engaged and emotive audience asked many questions of the panel, with many not realising 2 hours had passed as the public talk was brought to an end.

Speaking on the 1981 hunger strike talk, Tyrone hunger strike youth committee chairperson, Kerry McColgan said,

“The 1981 hunger strike was a catalyst in our struggle and created massive support for our struggle, nationally and internationally. The legacy of that time has endured until today with all the hunger striker’s providing constant inspiration to Irish youth, allowing us to put our struggle in perspective and overcome anything in our path.”
“The large turnout at Friday’s talk, demonstrates the interest that the 1981 hunger strike holds, and the many emotive questions from the floor and warm round of applause for the panel shows the inspiration that the Hunger strikers provide for many out there. We where honoured to host the three excellent speakers, we realise it was hard for them to recount such difficult times and personal thoughts, and would like to thank all who attended making it such a worthwhile and engaging public talk, and a fitting start to the Tyrone hunger strike youth weekend.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Support Palestine – Vote No! 2 Lisbon heard in Galway

Galway Ógra Shinn Féin activists assisted IFPAL (Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon) in the launch of a float against the second Lisbon treaty in the river Corrib.

Ógra activists across the country have campaigned vigorously in support of Palestine and Galway members were delighted to continue with this campaign. The float’s message was “Vote No to Lisbon - protect human rights and democracy!”

One Galway Ógra member said,

“The launch went brilliantly, with many onlookers asking us about the Lisbon Treaty and Palestine. We will continue to work for a second No vote over the next few months.”

The treaty would be disastrous for Irish Foreign Policy on Palestine. The passing of the treaty would mean that decisions can be passed by a majority rather than a unanimous vote. Ireland’s veto would be lost. We would have no choice but to adopt the Foreign Policy the EU has decided for us.

The EU has not been favourable to Palestine in the past. During Israel’s 22 day long bomb attack on Palestine, during the first 2 months of this year, the EU never once took any measures to prevent the slaughter which resulted in the murder of 1417 people. Even now 6 months later the EU has failed to send a ship with aid for the people of Palestine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hundreds of leaflets distributed in Galway.

Ógra Shinn Fein took to the streets of Galway at the weekend as they blitzed the city with hundreds of recruitment leaflets. The busy Shop Street in Galway was the focal point on Saturday which also marked the start of a month long campaign of recruitment in the Galway area.

Several Ógra members took part in the leaflet drop which lasted for just over an hour during rush hour. The first day of uninterrupted sun seen thousands of shoppers take to the streets and also included those out making the best of the few hours of sunshine.

Speaking following the leaflet drop Galway Ógra activist Mairéad Farrell said

“We got a great response from the public on the streets of Galway. We distributed hundreds of recruitment leaflets in all on Saturday. Throughout the next month we aim to raise the profile of Ógra in Galway. We will be getting active and will undertake further leaflet drops and will also write to local media outlets with the aim of recruiting more young people into Ógra and indeed Sinn Fein.

“The start of the new college term will also provide an ideal opportunity for Ógra in Galway and already we are preparing for the freshers fayre in GMIT.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Cork City Council remove mural and threaten to fine Ógra Shinn Féin

Despite being hugely in debt, removing murals commemorating Cork’s history seems high on the agenda of those in City Hall.

That was the message clearly shown when Cork City Council recently removed tributes painted by Ógra Shinn Féin to the former TD and Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, and the Roll of Honour of Fianna Éireann, Chorcai.

In a shocking display of disrespect, the murals that had been painted on a derelict building in the Lee Fields were cited by the Recreation, Amenity and Culture Department as “defacement” under the Litter Pollution Act.

Terence MacSwiney died after 76 days on hunger strike in Brixton Prison, after being arrested in Cork having been found in possession of a cipher key. The four Fianna died in the struggle for Irish independence between the years 1917 and 1924.

Despite the wall having previously been covered by graffiti, no effort was ever made to refurbish it until the murals were painted. The vandalised portions of the wall remained untouched by the “renovation works”.

Sinn Féin Councillor Jonathan O’ Brien said,
“I find it incredible that the Council has taken this action. This was an attempt by local youths to enhance the area through the celebration of those who made the greatest sacrifice for the people of Cork and this country. To say that it amounts to defacement beggars belief.”

Friday, August 07, 2009

On the streets with Dublin Ógra

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin activists were on the streets of the city over the course of the week as part of a recruitment drive launched by the cúige. In streets and alleys, posters with the Ógra and Na Fianna Éireann logos were erected to mark the significant anniversary of Irish republican youth in struggle. Dublin Ógra were especially active in Moore Street, the location of the final HQ of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic on Easter Week, 1916.

The latest activity of the recruitment drive, flyposting around the city was a sucess, and is one of many initiatives that will be taken over the course of the future. Every Saturday, Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin will be running an information stall outside the GPO, one of the most significant historic locations of revolutionary Dublin.

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin spokeperson Daithí Byrne said; "This simple yet highly effective recruitment method is one of many ideas that will be employed by Dublin activists in the coming weeks. Our mission is simple, and that is to get the republican message out to the young people of Dublin and to continue to be strong players in the city's youth politics. Every Saturday we run a stall outside the GPO and we would encourage anyone who is interested in what we do and what we stand for to come along."

To contact Dublin ÓSF email;

Ógra Shinn Féin support Dublin Port Workers

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin activists manned a picket yesterday outside the Four Courts in the city. A march was held by the Dublin Port Workers Group last week in support of SIPTU members who are in dispute with UK company Peel Ports at the Marine Terminal in Dublin Port on Tuesday 28 July.

Over 300 people from the communities of East Wall, Irishtown and Ringsend from both sides of the river Liffey joined together to hold a protest at the Marine Terminal where forty-two SIPTU members have been picketing for over a month over the company’s refusal to negotiate with the union and to enforce pay cuts and redundancies.

The company took a High Court injunction which prevents effective picketing by the striking workers. While the workers were locked outside their place of employment, scabs from Britain were employed, while Irish workers weren't paid.
Yesterday morning, the controversy was resolved. It was agreed that the defendants and their agents would be restrained from picketing the company's cargo terminal in a manner which directly obstructs vehicles seeking access to and egress from the Marine Terminal's facility.
Dublin Ógra spokesperson Daithí Byrne said;

"The fact that Marine Termal Ltd. workers were treated in such a fashion is a disgrace. Dublin Port is state owned, with MTL its sole tenant. The government have a duty to intervene in support of workers rights. The British owned company appears to have faced no oppostition from the government while it walked all over the workers. Dublin ÓSF activists have been supporting workers rights day and night over the last week and will continue to do so."
To contact Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin for information or to join, contact

Thursday, August 06, 2009

ÓSF Dublin launches monthly newsletter

Ógra Shinn Féin Dublin has today launched it's monthly newsletter. It will feature news and information about Ógra in Dublin as well as information about upcoming events. The newsletter is available from the information stand at the Sinn Féin bookshop in Parnell Square and also the weekly ÓSF stall outside the GPO (Saturdays 12 - 3). The newsletter will also be distributed at events and protests.