Monday, November 30, 2009

Ógra Shinn Féin take to Omagh Streets in Basque Solidarity.

Ógra Shinn Féin took to the streets of Omagh over the weekend in solidarity with the 34 young Basque activists arrested in the past week. On Saturday members of West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin held the solidarity action as similar events were taking place nationwide and internationally.

Protest in Omagh town centre Ógra members held posters and a banner demanding an end to the repression in the Basque country and in particular against Segi. Hundreds of leaflets were also distributed.

Speaking from the protest West Tyrone Ógra spokesperson Stephen McGahan said

“We condemn unreservedly the arrest of over 30 pro independence youth activists in the Basque country. The arrest and imprisonment of youth activist who work for independence in the Basque country is wrong and unjust

“Such arrests took place against the backdrop of an initiative by the pro independence movement to initiate a democratic process. These arrests go against the very spirit of any such democratic process.

“As we gather in Omagh many more actions are taking place throughout Ireland and abroad in solidarity with the youth movement in the Basque country. On behalf of Ógra I want to again pledge our ongoing support to Segi and condemn these further acts of repression against the Basque youth movement. We once again call for the release of the youth activists and will be highlighting these injustices in the coming days and weeks.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update on Basque detainees.

Izaskun Goienetxea
Ógra Luimní

The raid against the Basque pro-independence youth movement SEGI is unprecedented in scale and effect. 13 of those arrested appeared before the judge Fernando Grande-Marlasca on Thursday (26th November), and 11 were subsequently imprisoned. 11 more were imprisoned on Friday the 27th November. The names of the 11 young pro-independence arrested on Thursday are: Jon Liguerzana, Bittor González y Goizane Pinedo (Gasteiz); Mikel Eskiroz (Donostia, captured in Iruñea); Amaia Elkano (Iruñea); Jon Ziriza (Barañain); Itsaso Torregrosa (Burlata); Haritz Petralanda (Zamudio); Mikel Ayestaran (Villabona); Oier Ibarguren (Donostia); y Eñaut Aiartzaguena (Iurreta).

The identity of the 11 people imprisoned today has been kept in secret until 10pm and finally it has been emerged that Néstor Silva, Zumai Olalde y Jon Anda (Gasteiz); Eihar Egaña y Aitziber Arrieta (Donostia); Idoia Iragorri y Nahaia Aguado (Sestao); Garbiñe Urra (Barañain); a Irati Mujika (Amezketa); a Xumai Matxain (Zaldibia) and Oier Zuñi- ga from Bilbo are the young activists that have been sent to prison.

There are still 10 young activists remaining in Spanish police-stations, who are entirely isolated from outside contact at this moment in time, who will appear before the judge Grande-Marlasca. These are Mikel Totorika (Sestao), Joseba Dalmau (Galdakao), Garazi Rodríguez (Legorreta), Aitor Liguerzana, Unai Ruiz and Jagoba Apaolaza (Gasteiz), Haritz López (Tolosa), Euken Villasante (Andoain), and Maialen Eldua and Ibai Esteibarlanda (Donostia, although he was arrested in Hondarribia).

The young political activists’ relatives were hoping to visit some them in Soto del Real (Madrid) but they have been notified that the prisoners have already been moved to different prisons (without giving details) throughout the Spanish state. Apart from that, the first 11 young activists being imprisoned have reported abusive behaviour and threats from Spanish security forces.
The judge Grande-Marlasca has yet to release details of the basis for his convictions.

Tomorrow 28th November, there will be a huge national demonstration supported by many organisations organised by the young activists’ relatives and friends that will start at Aita Donostia at 17.00 in Bilbao. Furthermore, protests are being carried out all over the Basque Country to protest against all these events happening during the last days.

Show your solidarity by taking part in the protest that will be taking place on 28th November and over the next couple of weeks throughout Ireland


Source of information -

Friday, November 27, 2009

Na Fianna Eireann Anniversary marked in Dublin

Ógra member dressed in Na Fianna uniform

A commemorative event in Dublin to mark the 100th Anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann last Saturday night saw was a good attendance from Sinn Féin, Ógra Shinn Féin and former members of the republican youth organisation.
The event, organised by the Dublin Republican Commemoration Committee was addressed by former Fianna members, Críona Ni Dhálaigh now a Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor and Sean O
'Donnell and featured an exhibition of over 100 photographs from the past 100 years and was.

An overview of the historic role of Fianna Éireann in the struggle for Irish freedom was given Mícheál Mac Donncha and the occasion also heard an address by Donncha Ó Laoghaire of Ógra Shinn Féin. The Fianna Éireann Roll of Honour was read aloud by Ógra member Mark Maloney. This was followed by a minute’s silence in memory of those Fians who died in the course of the struggle or who have since passed away. This was accompanied by the lowering of he Sunburst flag by Michael Farrell from Ógra Shinn Féin who was attired in Fianna Éireann uniform. The Dublin Republican Flute Band played The Flag of Na Fianna and Amhrán na BhFiann was played on the tin whistle by Cormac Ó Dálaigh. After the commemorative events and speeches there followed a social evening where old comrades shared stories and memories of the Fianna.

Protests In Support of Arrested Segi Members

SATURDAY 28th Protests







DUNGANNON* (Time To Be Confirmed)



DERRY* (Time To Be Confimed)

* Protests / Banner Drops / Leaflet Drops Organised By Cuige Uladh Ógra Shinn Féin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sinn Féin Colleges Dublin Trip – Bígí Linn!

The Sinn Féin Uladh College Comhairle Ceantair are organising another trip to Dublin in the new year from the 27 – 29 January.

Following on from last year’s successful trip, the event will be bigger and better, including some of last year’s events and much more. Additional this year will be a republican historical walking tour of Dublin, a visit to the National Museum, a tour of the Battle of the Boyne site and of course social nights.

The whole trip will cost only £40/45E which covers transport, accommodation, all tours and some meals, and a deposit of £10/10E needs to be paid no later than Friday 11 December.

Encouraging people to attend, Caolan Quinn said,
“The Dublin trip was a massive success, and a highlight of the college year for last year’s republican student activists. It was an opportunity to learn at first hand of our cultural and political history, and as important, to forge friendships and have a bit of craic. There will be as much emphasis this year on the social as the educational and we would encourage everyone to come along.”

Segi call for International Solidarity

'This morning, 24th of November, Spanish Fascist court has arrested 36 member of SEGI, the youth Basque organisation which is banned, as a supposedly “terrorist” organisation.

SEGI is a youth, feminist, basque, revolutionary and internationalist organisation. Our crime is to organise and struggle for another Basque Country, defending our rights as youth and as basque.

Because of this we ask for international solidarity, we ask you, other youth organisations, to denounce the attacks againts the political project of SEGI. French and Spanish Goverments have declared war on the Basque Country. This includes arrests of the members of political parties, dissapearance of volunteers, constant persecution of activists, torture in custody among other things.

They won´t stop us, we will keep on fighting for our aim, until our contry is free and socialist. Basque youth has a clear message for the youth all around the world, struggle is the only way!We have been here for 30 years and no matter what they did or what they do, we will keep on fighting! They won´t stop us!

In solidarity,

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

36 Segi Members arrested.

News is emerging from the Basque country that police have arrested 36 members of Segi in the early hours of this morning (Tues).

The operation was carried out across the Basque Country on the orders of High Court judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska and was still under way into the morning.

It is claimed by unnamed ‘security officials’ that leaders of Segi, which was declared a ‘terrorist’ group by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2007, were among the arrested.

This is the largest scale operation of its kind in recent years. So far, arrests have been made in Otxarkoaga (Bilbao), Lekeitio, Zamudio, Galdakao, Iurreta y Sestao in Bizkaia; Donostia-San Sebastián, Amezketa, Azpeitia e Idiazabal in Gipuzkoa; Vitoria-Gasteiz en Álava, Barañain and Zizur Mayor.

Police officers also entered the homes of at least three other people intending to make arrests, but they were not at home.

Aside from the arrests, searches were carried out in 34 homes, youth-centres, eateries, gastronomic societies and even municipal buildings. The operation remains open, meaning further searches and arrests could be made.

Segi is the youth section of the Basque pro-independence left-wing, succeeding previously banned organizations Jarrai and Haika. It was declared a ‘terrorist’ organization in January 2007, concluding a court case begun by Supreme Court Judge Baltasar Garzon in 2001.

Condemning the arrests Ógra Shinn Féin national organiser, Donnchadh O Laoghaire slammed the Spanish for scuppering the chance for the establishment of a democratic process in the Basque country:

“Within the past number of weeks the Basque independence movement have outlined proposals which would see the establishment of a democratic process. However when the Spanish order and oversee such arrests of political activists it goes against the very essence of what is being outlined by the pro independence movement.

“On behalf of Ógra I would like to extend our solidarity to the young people arrested and pledge the support of our organisation for the cause for which they struggle. I furthermore call for their release. Ógra will be on the streets throughout Ireland in the coming days and weeks in protest at these latest arrests.

“If the Spanish are really interested in establishing dialogue with the pro independence movement such arrests do nothing to advance their case. It would be our hope that they grasp the chance while they can.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cúige Organiser's Report - Munster

David Collins
Munster Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

A chairde,

Since we gathered last year for our Comhdháil Náisiúnta in Cork City, we have seen the growth of Ógra in Cúige Mumhan. At present there are three Ógra cumainn in Cork, a cumann in Waterford and in Limerick, as well as a new grouping forming recently in County Kerry.

Throughout the year, we have been involved in a number of campaigns, from the recent protests against the cuts by the Free State administration to knocking on doors for the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

Ógra has done work against the rise of the drugs problem, shown solidarity with the people of Palestine at numerous demonstrations, painted murals in remembrance of republican patriots, actively opposed the reintroduction of third level fees, as well as countless other campaigns and actions.

2009 saw every cumann throughout the province heavily involved in the local election campaigns, in which two Ógra members stood. Of these, I would like to give particular congratulations to the incoming National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Donnchadh O Laoghaire, who although narrowly missing out on the last seat in his area, gained 1,500 first preference votes – a fantastic achievement for a first time candidate of his age, which accurately reflected the trojan amount of work he put into the election.

On behalf of Munster Ógra, I'd like to thank Barry McColgan for his sterling work throughout the years as National Organiser; no amount of praise I could give him would do him justice. I'd also like to wish my good friend
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire the best of luck in taking on this role; I will afford you all the support I can.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

Segi activist speaks out against repression

Emma Clancy

Representatives from the Basque pro-independence youth organisation Segi visited Belfast from 13-15 November to participate in the Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress.
One of the Segi representatives spoke to An Phoblacht about the criminalisation of the pro-independence movement by the Spanish government; the recent Batasuna call for a democratic resolution to the Basque conflict, and the need to build solidarity between the Basque and Irish movements for independence. (As Segi has been banned by the Spanish government, the representative will remain anonymous.)

“As Ógra Shinn Féin celebrates 100 years of the Irish republican youth movement since the foundation of Na Fianna Éireann, we in Segi are celebrating 30 years since the formation of our predecessor organisation Jarrai,” the Segi representative told An Phoblacht.

“Segi is a revolutionary socialist, feminist, pro-independence youth organisation. We organise young people across the Basque Country in struggles for their rights – for national rights and language and cultural rights, but also to improve their living conditions, housing, and their rights in the workplace or on campus.

“But while we celebrate three decades of struggle for Basque independence and socialism, our movement is coming under increasing repression.”

Segi (formerly Haika) was declared illegal in 2005 by the Audiencia Nacional (National Court, a Diplock-style political court in Madrid).

The court ruled that, while it was an “unauthorised” organisation, it could not be considered “terrorist” because it had no connection to political violence. But in 2007 the Spanish Supreme Court revised the ruling – despite there being no new evidence – and declared Jarrai-Haika-Segi to be a terrorist organisation.

“Now more than 100 of our comrades are in prison,” the Segi woman said.

“Now you can be jailed for eight years simply for membership of our organisation.

“The repression by the Spanish state against the youth movement is not only arrests and imprisonment, although these are its most obvious forms. The criminalisation goes much deeper and broader; it is structural.

“There are continual attacks against youth centres, youth demonstrations and gatherings. They are targeting not just pro-independence activists, but all community activists who provide leadership to strengthen their communities.”

The representative said that this year judgements have begun being handed down by the Spanish courts against Segi activists.

“Many have been held in ‘pre-trial detention’ since 2005 – four years being the maximum amount of time a person can be jailed before trial under Spanish law. The average sentence most young activists are receiving for their political activism is six years in jail,” she said.

“You can see the impact of the criminalisation campaign here in Belfast where Basque youth activist Arturo Beñat Villanueva is fighting extradition to Spain charged with membership of the youth movement.

“Each time a Basque political activist is arrested, the police come in the early hours of the morning and hold the person in incommunicado detention for five days, during which they are interrogated and often tortured.

“In many cases, police have forced the prisoners to sign statements saying they are members of a banned organisation, and judges will use these statements to convict the prisoners, even if is the only ‘proof’ offered by the prosecution.”

The activist said Segi “reaffirms its full support” for the proposal by Batasuna for a democratic resolution to the Basque conflict through a process in which the Basque people’s rights are recognised.

“This initiative is very significant and is the outcome of a process of discussion, consideration and reflection among the broad Basque pro-independence movement,” she said.

“As the initiative for peace and democracy was due to be announced in October, 10 leading Basque pro-independence activists were arrested and five of them remain in jail, including Batasuna spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi.

“The Spanish government clearly fears such an initiative that would pave the way for a democratic resolution to the Basque question.

“Only such a democratic process in which people’s rights are respected can lead to peace in Euskal Herria. Until then, there will be no lasting peace.”

She said that in as well as introducing legislation to criminalise all expressions of political support for Basque self-determination, the Spanish government was engaged in a “dirty war” of targeting political activists.

“Former prisoner and ETA volunteer Jon Anza disappeared in April this year,” she explained. “We believe Jon, who was ill at the time, was kidnapped and killed during the course of an illegal interrogation by the Spanish security forces and his body buried in France.”

“Several activists have been kidnapped, interrogated and beaten by security forces throughout the year as the Spanish government steps up its efforts to intimidate the movement and to recruit collaborators.

“We have to struggle against these actions, to bring about a situation where the state forces can no longer target political activists like this. We have no alternative.”

The Segi activist said that the PNV’s (conservative Basque Nationalist Party) loss of control of the parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community in elections in March (which the left-nationalists were prohibited from participating in) showed the true nature of the so-called “autonomy” that had been granted to the Basque Autonomous Community after the death of fascist dictator General Franco in 1975.

The two main Spanish parties, the PSOE and PP, formed an alliance to oust the nationalists from power after the election in March this year in which more than 100,000 Basques were disenfranchised as the parties they supported were banned.

“When Franco died and the Spanish constitution was introduced, the PNV helped blind people to the fact that what was on offer was not self-determination for the Basque people, but an attempt to divide us and have the Basques assimilate into the Spanish state,” she said.

“We can see 30 years later the impact of this strategy – in combination with repression and disenfranchisement – when the same parties that rule in Madrid are in power in the supposedly autonomous Basque parliament. There is no autonomy, only assimilation.

“The repression has certainly intensified since the PNV lost power. Over the summer almost 1,000 people were arrested under the charge of ‘glorifying terrorism’ for displaying photographs of the 740 Basque political prisoners in Spanish and French jails.”

The Segi activist said she believed “the best answer to these attacks is to develop the initiative proposed by Batasuna, to build the conditions in which the Spanish state forces feel pressured to sit down and have the discussion about the Basque nation’s rights that needs to be had”.

She said the Segi delegation was proud to participate in Ógra’s centenary celebrations as the Basque youth movement was celebrating its 30-year anniversary of struggling for independence and socialism.

“Our organisations share the same goals and have many similar experiences,” she said.

“At the moment, although we share the same objectives, we are working in different conditions and it is very important to develop links of solidarity between our sister organisations. Over the years Jarrai-Haika-Segi have sent many representatives to Ireland, and many Ógra activists have visited Euskal Herria.

“We have much to learn from each other, and these links of solidarity enrich the struggle, experience and knowledge of both organisations.

“Segi views the progress of the Irish republican movement in advancing national and democratic rights as a reference, a model, and as a source of hope and inspiration for our struggle.”

Songs of Struggle - Fundraiser for Basque Committee

Cúige Organiser's Address - Connaught

Mairéad Farrell
Connacht Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

A chairde,

I took over as Connacht organiser in July of this year, and began building from a very low base.

We initially focused on building both Galway and Sligo.

Galway has three cumainn at the moment. NUIG’s cumann has grown in number with over 200 students signing up to join, the highest in the 26 counties. A few dedicated activists came from their number. GMIT’s cumann has been re-established this year after a few years of it being inactive. We also have a new cumann being developed in the city.

Sligo IT is a well established cumann and they are continuing with their hard work. This dedication can also be seen in the city’s working group.

Mayo’s comhairle ceantair re-affirmed its support to establishing Ógra in that county this week and we will be travelling to Mayo over the next few weeks.

We will begin to focus on the other two counties in the New Year. I believe that Leitrim will not be too difficult to organise, and there are also propects for Roscommon.

I would like to thank Barry for all the support he gave us over the last few months and I am sure that Donnchadh will give us the same level of support.

I hope that nest year Connacht’s report will be full of success stories.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh!

Cúige Organiser's Address- Dublin

Colm O Mordha
Baile Átha Cliath Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

I would like to start off with saying that I have been a member of Ógra for a few years now and right throughout that time there was one Ógra activist that was an inspiration to me; Barry McColgan.
Because he is the best, most capable and dedicated Ógra activist I know and have known. I would like to thank him for everything he had done for Ógra and wish him well. I don't think he's been given the recognition for all he has achieved.

So thanks Barry for everything.

Since August of this year Dublin Ógra has been in a state of restructuring, with the election of a new officer board for Dublin Ógra This also coincides with the reorganisation of Dublin Sinn Féin, today the senior party within Dublin, pacifically Pajo the ODU rep for Dublin and Cuige Ógra Mentor, has been an enormous help to Ógra’s development, I can’t stress enough, that he has just been absolutely fantastic for Ógra and Dublin Sinn Féin itself.

Where previously the current Dublin Sinn Féin Youth Officer Oisin Dolan and previous Dublin Ógra Chair, was left to build Ógra literarily on his own, which wasn’t fair.

Today it’s not just me who runs Ógra in the city its Pajo, its Oisin, its Mark, Daithi, Orla and the whole Ógra Officer Board and the 9 Ógra Cumann Chairs.

Also as a number of you may know, this is also a new development for Ógra. There is a separate College structure, within Dublin Ógra, run by the Dublin Ógra Vice chair Paddy Daly. This year we ran the most successful Freshers in terms of numbers joining, unfortunately how active they will be is still up in the air.

We have also made major in roads in setting up 5 new Cumann, although they are still in the development stages, it is are hope and plan that by the end of 2010, we will have an Ógra Cumann in all 12 General Election Constituencies.

We are currently in the middle of developing a 12 month plan for the Cuige, which will deal with all aspects of the Cuige,

· including finance,
· publicity,
· educating the membership,
· recruitment
· and of course campaigns

In terms of the campaigns, currently we are in the middle of developing a number of campaigns they are as follows:

No Cuts to Drug Rehabilitation demonstration on the 21st of November

Which Involves Dublin Mid West Ógra organising a protest outside a drug rehab unit in Clondakin, to call on the Dublin Government not to make any Cuts in combating Drugs in this year’s budget.

Na Fianna Event, in Dublin on the 21st of November

On the 21st of this month (November) at 7pm in Cassidy's Hotel, Parnell Square East. The Na Fianna Commemoration Committee, which Ógra ties into have organised an event to mark the 100th anniversary. This event has been organised as a social event and a gathering of ex- Na Fianna members, as well as current Sinn Féin, Republicans and Ogra members.

During the night there will a few short speeches, a photo exhibition and open bar.

24 hour day of action for the homeless, 28th November

There is a 24 hour day of action for the homeless and future homeless, on the 28th of November
Where Dublin Central Ógra will be conducting a 24hr day of action at the GPO; including a sleep out that night, this will be a symbolic event to call on the Dublin Government to be something to combat the current homelessness, while also calling for the introduction of a NAMA style bailout for the home owners who are on the verge of homelessness. If the banks and developers get one, why can’t the homeless.

Fasting for Crumlin Hospital on the 5th of December

Dublin South Central Ógra in conjunction with the senior party, are organising a 12 hour Fast for Crumlin Hospital, this will commence on the 5th of December at 8am until 8pm outside the hospital itself, where we will be carrying out a collection for the Crumlin Hospital Trust.

Suicide Awareness Event on the 17th of December

Dublin North West Ógra will be organising a Suicide Awareness meeting in Finglas village, this event is being organised 8 days before Christmas as this is a time where unfortunately a lot of suicides occur.

Everybody is this room is invited along to all these events.

To summarise;

Over the last 3 months Dublin Ógra has being doing well because we have a excellent team around us, and I would suggest to any Cumann chair or Cuige Organiser for that fact, if you want to be successful don’t try do it on your own, built a team around you. Because one individual player doesn’t make a team and you are only as good, as the team your in. With saying that I would like to welcome Daithi Byrne and Orla on to the national executive, as they are people who have been the back bone of Dublin Ógra and hopefully will be to the back bone for Ógra nationally in the year to come.
In short, to coin a phrase as far as Dublin Ógra is concerned a lot done, a hell of a lot more to do.

Cúige Organiser's Address - North Leinster

Caoimhe Ní Shluain
Laighean Thuaidh Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

A chairde,
I took the position of North Leinster Cúige Organizer in July of this year. Since then we have established cumainn in counties Louth and Meath, with working groups in Longford, Port Laoise and Drogheda . We have also put in place a working cúige structure and have elected an officer board.
The month of September saw Meath Ógra Shinn Féin successfully organize a weekend of events for Slogadh Na nÓg ’09, in which activist from Cork to Tyrone gathered in the rural Gaeltacht of Rath Cairn.

We also hosted a weekend in Louth and had a hugely successful Hunger Strike March through the town of Drogheda. Ógra played their part by forming a Na Fianna Éireann colour party.
Locally, like throughout the 26 counties , North Leinster Ógra were to the fore in the ‘No 2 Lisbon’ campaign and worked tirelessly to see the defeat of the Lisbon treaty again, unfortunately this wasn’t to be.
Likewise Ógra in North Leinster were to the fore in the local election campaigns, Ógra brought a revitalising energy to canvass teams throughout the cúige, and it is worth noting that we increased our vote in many areas throughout the cúige, including securing the 1st Lord Mayor of Navan for more than 80 years, Cllr Joe Reilly.
Comrades, so whilst I have only been in the role for a short number of months I am confident that the future of North Leinster Ógra has the potential for growth and increased activism if the work is put in.

Although the restructuring of North Leinster may be only 4 months old, in this short few months we have developed a lot and over the course of the next year we plan to

· Recruit new republicans into Ógra
· Set up new cumann ‘s
· Develop more campaigns and activism
· Expand our publicity
· Promote our republican goal
· And promote the use of the Irish language

Comrades, on behalf on North Leinster Ógra Shinn Féin I would sincerely like to thank Barry McColgan. It has been an honour and a privilege to work alongside him, and we in North Leinster our extremely grateful for all his help and his dedication to Ógra throughout the years. We would also like to welcome our new National Organizer Donnchadh O Laoghaire, who I am confident will be an excellent leader and we look forward to working with him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ógra Shinn Fein welcomes Belfast court decision.

Ógra Shinn Féin have welcomed a Belfast court decision which has thrown out a case against Belfast based Basque Arturo Villanueva Arteaga (Benat) seeking his extradition.

The Spanish was seeking Benat due to his alleged membership of pro independence Basque youth group, Jarrai. The judge said that there was lack of specific details about attendance at meetings, interviews or other evidence that Mr Arteaga was in Jarrai.

Jarrai were deemed ‘illegal’ by the Spanish Supreme court in 2005 and deemed ‘terrorist‘ in 2007, as was the current pro independence youth movement, Segi.

Although the warrant claimed the wanted man carried out violent and coercive actions from 1994 to 2000, Judge Burgess held there was no reference to dates, locations or targets of any alleged attacks which would allow anyone to link them to him.

The warrant claimed that Benat had been a member of Jarrai in 2000, yet it wasn’t until 2005 that it was deemed ‘illegal’.

Explaining his case, Benat said that he had always worked "politically, peacefully and publicly" in defence of Basque rights, and he criticised the way the Spanish dealt with these kind of political cases, which is not the right way and breach any kind of principles.

"Not just myself, but many different lawyers and international bodies, year after year, have been calling attention to the Spanish authorities to improve on matters of human rights and judicial rights for any legal cases relating to the Basque conflict."

Welcoming the news was Ógra Shinn Féin Uladh international officer Barry McNally. Speaking following the news McNally said:

“I welcome this decision to throw this case out of court. This case was flawed right from the outset. It also demonstrates the lengths that the Spanish will go to in order imprison and torture members of the pro independence movement.

“It is clear that this case was being pursued because of Benats political persuasion. It brings to an end the nightmare which he has faced since he was arrested on 22 April. On behalf of Ógra I would like to pass on our best wishes to Benat. Similarly we hope that today’s ruling will pave the way for the case of Iñaki de Juana being dealt with in a similar manner.

“Only last weekend we in Ógra welcomed representatives from Basque youth movement Segi to our annual congress. At that event they again highlighted the repression and torture which is ongoing in the Basque country. Indeed just last week more young people were imprisoned in the Basque Country for alleged membership of youth group Segi.

“Given that the left independence movement have within days tried to reestablishment a peace process in the Basque country we in Ógra call for an end to these political persecutions. Furthermore we call for the Spanish to engage in meaningful dialogue with the pro independence movement to help develop a peace process in the Basque country.

Cúige Organiser's Address - Uladh

Fra Cochrane
Cúige Uladh Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féín

2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Na Fianna Éireann, the first republican youth movement, and we in Cúige Uladh have worked tirelessly to ensure that a fitting tribute was given to the young republicans who went before us. Not just by commemorating and remembering, but by campaigning on the issues which affect todays youth, and by advancing that republican objective which Countess Markievicz and Bulmer Hobson sought to instil in the young people of 1909.

Before I go any further, I would like to pay tribute to Cúige Uladh’s former organiser Johnny McGibbon, who stepped down this year. As I’m sure all of you will agree Johnny was an outstanding organiser, and one to whom everyone here in the Cúige is indebted to. I know from personal experience in South Down that Johnny always provided the support and guidance I needed as he has done in areas throughout Uladh. We wish him the best of luck in his new role as Upper Bann organiser.

We in Ógra have always campaigned on the issue of human and civil rights, something which, as we on the island of Ireland know all too well, can be abused, and this was never more the case then the Israeli attacks on Palestine. In Uladh we organised and joined a number of protests, vigils, and talks in relation to this. We have campaigned for a boycott on Israeli goods and ensured that we showed solidarity with the people of Gaza.

This year our national campaign was “educate to be free” a campaign which focused on the most pressing issues in education, and allowed young republicans to voice their concerns on issues such as Irish language education, cost of living, tuition fees, 11+, budget cuts and student empowerment. Here in Cuige Uladh we sent a delegation of activists to meet with Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane to discuss how Ógra could assist in the implementation of educational reforms in the six counties, we leafleted schools and colleges with literature around the campaign, and there were public talks held in places like Lurgan and Omagh. Education is and will continue to be an important issue in the future, and one which we will continue to work on.

As always, Ógra has maintained strong ties with our comrades in the Basque Country, and campaigned on their behalf here in Uladh. We have held Basque solidarity days of action and will continue to campaign against the extradition of Iñaki de Juana and Arturo ‘Beñat’ Villanueva.

This year also saw a European election being held, and the successful election of Bairbre De Brun who topped the polls in the six counties. Ógra also played a role in this and everyone who participated should be commended.

A lot of our focus this year of course was about commemorating the 100th anniversary of Na Fianna Éireann, and I believe Uladh have strived to do this when and wherever possible. Murals commemorating fallen Fians now remind the youth of Strabane, Derry, and this weekend in Belfast of the young people who gave their lives so that they could have the rights they have today.

Among the many republican youth weekends which Uladh have hosted there have been a number which concentrated on the theme of Na Fianna Éireann and 100 years of youth in struggle, most memorably, the Tyrone Hungerstrike Weekend, which coincided with the exact date of Na Fianna’s founding. Uladh is also honoured to host this successful National Congress on such a significant year, and we thank all of you for attending.

It is fitting, that this year, na Fianna‘s 100th anniversary, seen such growth here in the Cúige. We now have new cumainn established in Fermanagh, South Tyrone, Coalisland, and the soon to be launched South & East Belfast Ógra. To all of these areas, Maith thú.
Like always we can not rest on what we have. Next year I hope to see the establishment of new Cumainn across the cuige, and the rolling out of the cumann partnership scheme in order to increase activism. As always we will continue to campaign, recruit, and educate.

Go raibh Mile Maith agaibh.

Tiocfaidh Ar La!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

‘Impatient Republicans’ gather in Belfast for Ógra National Congress.

Last weekend saw in excess of a hundred young republican activists, gather at the Felons Club in Belfast for the Ógra Shinn Féín national congress. The weekend was the conclusion of a significant year for Ógra in which the republican youth movement remembered the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the original republican youth movement, Na Fianna Éireann.

The Weekend began on the Friday with an opening address from local MP and Uachtarán Shinn Féin, Gerry Adams. In addressing the congress he urged young republicans to continue to fight for the communities that are being hit most by the present recession, and for our national democratic aims.

This was followed by the final Address from outgoing National Organiser Barry MacColgan. Barry welcomed delegates from 'as far away as Cork, Derry and East Belfast' to the Congress. Reflecting on the past three years as organiser with pride, he expressed his confidence in the organisation to continue to build, and offered his continuing support as a member of Ógra.

The congress then launched in to the substantive part of the congress, with delegates beginning the debate on the motions on various issues of concern to young people.

The Friday evening drew to a close with a screening of the play ‘The Young Guard of Erin’, which told the story of Na Fianna Éireann and some of the young Belfast Fianna, and Cumann na gCailíní girls who died in the most recent phase of struggle, and music from the Spirit of Freedom.

The congress restarted bright and early the following morning with a further tranche of motions, and the debate continuing unabated on issues as diverse as the EU, Parades, and the Environment, before moving on to the workshops.

A number of prominent republicans including Padraig Wilson, Bobby Storey, Sean Murray, Daithi McKay, and Eoin O Bróin agreed to conduct these workshops, which all activists found to be of great value, with many ideas being hatched for the next twelve months of activism.

Meanwhile voting for the positions on the National Executive was going strong. The successful activists from a very strong field were Órla Ní Dhúill, John McDermott, Daithi Byrne, Joe Lynch, Laura Gildernew and Kerry McColgan.

A further election saw Portadown activist Gemma McKenna elected to the Ard Chomhairle, in a tight race with Mark Moloney of Dublin.

Former National Organiser of Ógra, Eoin O’Broin, was joined by Stephen Agnew of the green party for the Public Talk, ‘Ireland’s future – Free Green and Left’. Following both speakers addresses, the highly entertaining debate continued from the floor, and any observer would surely have been struck by the quality and maturity of debate from Ógra members.

Following the very positive Cúige organisers’ reports, in which all cúigí reported development and growth, Sinn Féin’s first Senator, and former Dublin Ógra organiser, Pearse Doherty gave the Keynote address. Pearse spoke of his pride, as a former Ógra member to be invited to speak to the congress, and commended Ógra for its development in the last twelve months. Picking up on the theme of Ógra’s new national campaign ‘Who fears to speak of a United Ireland?’ he emphasised that Irish unity was not an abstract notion, but an urgent priority, and stated ‘We need to be the impatient Republicans’. He urged Ógra to continue to grow and to become the most significant and influential youth movement, and to help win the hearts and minds of young people for the republican movement. His address was greeted with rapturous applause.

Johnny McGibbon then introduced Cork activist, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, as the incoming National Organiser to address the congress. Reflecting on a successful year, he pointed to the example of Na Fianna as a benchmark of Republican activism, stating that ‘Not only was the spirit of na Fianna Evident when a host of young people led the National Hunger strike commemoration in Galbally, it was evident in Ógra’s fight against fees, against cutbacks, for Demilitarisation, and against Drugs. Anywhere Ógra stood up for the communities it represents, that’s where the spirit of na Fianna was most evident.’ He encouraged delegates to be active both on the new national campaign and on local campaigns, and to build on Ógra’s development in the last year.In his address he also officially launched the new national campaign ‘Who fears to speak of a United Ireland?’ This campaign will involve Ógra aiming to push the national question further up the agenda, with actions as disparate and varied as leaflet and banner drops on demilitarisation, to debates on the union as against Irish Unity, and much more besides.
As he thanked Barry McColgan, and outgoing national secretary Cllr Johnny McGibbon for their contributions to Ógra in the last number of years, delegates rose to their feet in applause, giving them both a fitting send off.

Shortly afterwards, Pearse Doherty and Padraig Wilson launched a new mural on the Falls road highlighting the connection between Ógra and Na Fianna.

That evening saw the culmination of a year spent commemorating the anniversary of Na Fianna, with a Dinner Dance in honour of the Fianna who gave their lives for Ireland’s freedom, with Gerry O’ Hara the main speaker. An emotional evening saw a presentation to the families of the Fianna on the roll of honour, and a number of poems and songs from Ógra members, followed by music from Poitín.

The weekend drew to a close on the Sunday morning with a football match between members of Ógra and Na Fianna veterans. A close match saw the decidedly younger than expected Na Fianna team come out on top. A rematch at some point is surely on the cards.
As delegates departed from Belfast, all involved felt assured that the future of the struggle was in good hands. Albeit perhaps not all that good at football.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cork Ógra remembers na Fianna at Manchester Martyrs Commemoration.

A Fianna Éireann colour party consisting of members of Cork Ógra led the annual Manchester Martyrs commemoration in Bandon this Sunday the 8th of November.

The annual commemoration was the culmination of a weekend of events in West Cork, which included a tour of west Cork, and the performance of 'The Great Escape with Bobby Storey, Gerry Kelly, and Bik mcFarlane.

The Manchester Martyrs, Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, were hanged in Manchester in 1867 after being convicted of shooting a policeman in the attempt to free IRB members Thomas J Kelly, and Timothy Deasy. There has been a long running campaign to have the men's bodies reinterned in Glasnevin Cemetary, as they now lie in a mass grave in Blackley Cemetary in Manchester.

The commemoration on the Sunday evening was led by a Fianna Eireann colour party to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Na Fianna, and included members of Ógra from Cork City and one from the UL cumann.

The oration was given by Fra McCann, MLA for West Belfast, and he along with a number of the other speakers took the time to commend Ógra on their display in hounour of Na Fianna.

Cork Ógra spokesperson, David Collins, had this to say 'Throughout the year Ógra has played a leading role in remembering the centenary year of na fianna, and we in cork are proud to have the opportunity to commemorate their struggle and their sacrifice. As the republican youth movement, Ógra will continue to fight for the ideals Na Fianna espoused, and to commemorate our patriot dead.'

Ógra colour Party with Cllr Noel Harrington (Kinsale), Mayor of Youghal Sandra McLellan, Paddy Adams, Fra McCann MLA, Cllr Rachel mcCarthy (Bandon), and Cllr Donnacha O' Seaghdha (Skibbereen).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Burning of Long Kesh exhibition deemed Great Success

Coalisland Clonoe Ógra has recently held a successful exhibition weekend from Friday the 6th to Sunday the 8th of November.

The event which saw the launch of the new Coney Kilpatrick cumann, kicked off on Friday night with a presentation from former internees Joe Docherty and Joe Barnes.

The two men who are part of the Ceartais group, which deals with exposing Britain's misuse of CR gas, presented their information expertly and everyone in attendance could undeniably say it left a lasting impression.

Over 150 people attended the exhibition over the weekend, which highlighted not only the suffering of the Long Kesh prisoners but the widespread support that they received from the public. The event proved to be very successful and acted as a great first début for the new cumann.

Speaking on the weekend local Ógra activist Padraig Quinn had this to say:

“Coalisland Clonoe is an area full of young republicans eager to become more involved in the struggle for Irish unity, and Ógra gives them this opportunity. By launching the new cumann we have made our presence known in the community and so far we have been met with a lot of positive feedback. In the upcoming months we will be tackling issues that Ógra have justly made a priority, such as suicide prevention, drug awareness and promoting aspects of our Irish culture, such as music, language and sport. We look forward to making a continuous, lasting impression on the community and we would encourage anyone interested in getting more involved to contact their local cumann and join Ógra.”

Youth activists judged for their political work

Last week five young activists were judged in the Spanish National Court accused of being members of the Basque pro-independence youth organisations Jarrai, Haika and Segi. Two of them were transfered from jail. The other three had been previously released on bail.

Nevertheless they were imprisoned at the end of the trial while awaiting sentence.

All of them had been on the run when another 31 activists were tried in 2005, 23 of whom were sentenced to six years in prison in 2007. The Spanish authorities sought the extradition of four more but French authorities rejected three of them on the basis of political persecution and lack of evidence. The fourth is Arturo “Benat” Villanueva who is currently fighting extradition from Ireland.

Eight young activists were sentence to six years in prison last week for being members of the outlawed youth political organisation Segi. 115 more are awaiting trial.

During the trials all of them defended their right to do political work in favour of independence and stated that the trials were political.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Large Crowd Gathers for Launch of Ógra Shinn Féin in Fermanagh

A large gathering of young republicans attended the launch of the Fermanagh Cumann of Ógra Shinn Féin in Derrygannon Hall last Friday night. There they were given an insight into the workings of the youth wing of the party as well as a preview of what campaigns young Fermanagh republicans can expect over the coming year.

Ógra Shinn Féin National Organiser Barry McColgan gave an in-depth review of work carried out by local activists over the past 12 months including canvassing on behalf of Debbie Coyle in the Enniskillen by-election and hosting the National Youth Camp in Knockatallon.

"2009 marked an important year for Ógra Shinn Féin as it marked the centenary of the founding of Na Fianna Éireann and Ógra were proud to assist in organising the National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Galbally, Co Tyrone in mid August and we were honoured to play a part in the parade that took place 100 years to the day since the founding of Na Fianna Éireann."

McColgan also said that he was confident that Ógra Shinn Féin would play an important role in the struggle for Irish independence and that young activists in Fermanagh are well positioned to become a major influence on other Cumainn throughout Ireland.

Councillor Phil Flanagan who also attended the event gave a brief speech outlining the importance of youth to the history of the Republican Movement.

"89 years ago this week, one of Ireland most celebrated Irish Republican Martyrs, Kevin Barry, was hanged. Barry was brutally tortured and yet he still refused to inform his captures of the names of his comrades. He bravely accepted his fate and was proud to give his life for his country. We would do well remember the bravery shown by young men such as Barry in the fight for Irish freedom…In times gone by, young republicans faced no choice but to take up arms and fight in order to free our land. Thankfully, this is no longer the case."

"We now have the political strength and support to bring about real and lasting change for all of the people of this island and we will not allow the sectarian regimes of the past back into power. Sinn Féin have brought us closer to our goal of Irish unity and independence than at any stage since the 12th Century."

Flanagan concluded his speech by saying:

"As a young councillor of only 25 years of age, I say it is now up to the younger generation to continue that work. It is the current membership of Ógra Shinn Féin who will be the party leaders of the future.

Mar a deirtear, 'Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí'. As the old Irish proverb goes, Praise the youth and it will prosper."

Concluding the launch, experienced Republican and Chairman of Fermanagh Sinn Féin, Sean Lynch drew attention to the changes in this country since he was a youngster. He said that the current political struggle is just as challenging as any other stage of the conflict.

He paid tribute to his late comrade Seamus McElwain who was murdered by the SAS in 1986. McElwain, as a former member of Na Fianna Éireann from the age of 14, was well aware of the important role that the youth played in the republican movement and had openly stated his opinion that a republican political group would be needed in order to carry on the struggle once the British government had been brought to the negotiating table.

Lynch also said that he would like to encourage any young republicans in Fermanagh between the ages of 16 and 29 who wanted to play a part in the struggle for Irish freedom to join Ógra Shinn Féin. He also made it perfectly clear that he has faith in the youth of today and that Sinn Féin were not a closed shop and that new members are always welcome.
The evening finished with live music from Spirit of Freedom.