Sunday, February 28, 2010
Members of the UCD Sinn Fein MacDonagh/Farrell Cumann recently attended a talk given by Ainara Mendiola, Coordinator of the defence campaign in the Basque Country.
The talk, organized by the Irish-Basque Solidarity Committee as part of the International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country, focused on the forced closing of the Basque-language newspaper Egunkaria by the Spanish State in 2003 and the five Egunkaria journalists who are about to be put on trial by the Spanish State, despite the Spanish State Prosecutor saying that there is no evidence and the case should be dropped.
Colm MacNiallais, Chairperson of the UCD Cumann, said:
“This talk was very enlightening. The very idea that a so-called democratic country would resort to such anti-democratic tactics, such as torture and closing down newspapers, is just astonishing. The weight of international support for the Basque Country must be brought to bear on the Spanish State. Sinn Fein stands with the Basques in their struggle for independence. Freedom for the Basque Country! Release the Egunkaria Five!”
Friday, February 26, 2010
The thirteen Volunteers, whose plot is on the grounds of the university, were killed during the War of Independence and Civil War. It also commemorates Seán Ó Caomhánaigh who was killed by Free State forces during a jail-break in 1940. A plaque marks the spot and the cumann intend to renovate the memorial, which has fallen into disrepair, in the coming year.
The Volunteers honoured were:
Maurice Moore – Cobh
Patrick O’Sullivan – Cobh
All of whom were executed by firing squad and buried in what was the old city jail’s exercise yard.
The commemoration was hailed as a great success by activist Colm Larkin who said, "It's great to see the commemoration becoming a regular fixture in the UCC calendar, it's plain for everyone to see that the event is growing each and every year and that more and more societies and members of the university community want to take an active part it."
The night began with Youghal Volunteer's R.F.B., followed by a torch lit procession, marching from Devere Hall (The Student Centre) down through the main University Quad and through the main Archway down to Gaol Cross, which was the scene of the killing of Óglach Seán Ó Caomhánaigh in 1940 . At the cross Y.V.R.F.B. performed a flag lowering ceremony followed by the laying of a wreath by Ógra activist Niamh McCgonigley.
Following this the procession moved from Gaol Cross back up through the University to the Republican Plot near the Kane (Science) building where the main event of the night took place. The Colour Party first lowered their flags while Niamh Kerins layed a wreath and Ógra members from both CIT & UCC flanked the graveside with torches after which Cllr. Rachel McCarthy of Bandon, also a U.C.C. student, set the proceedings in motion.
There was a moments silence held for Jerry Coleman, a Republican stalwart who had recently passed away, followed by a reading of the Proclamation of Independence by Dan Harty.
This was followed by Runaí Ailín Mac Conbhuí of the Martin Hurson Cumann who said:
“I’d first like to thank everyone for coming out here tonight. It’s a great honour to host this event every year commemorating these fourteen Volunteers. This annual commemoration has gone from strength to strength, attracting larger crowds and surpassing itself year after year.”
“It’s a great opportunity to highlight the plot to the community here in the University, many people walk past here on a daily basis for years and never realise what the plot is or that there are even people buried here on campus. Also, it’s a great opportunity to highlight our Republican Politics, and as the commemoration grows year on year, the movement grows too and it shows people that we are a movement who have firmly held onto our beliefs, ideals and heritage.”
“I believe the ordinary cumann work done here day by day is a fitting tribute to these men. In the past year alone we’ve taken part in activities as adverse as protesting the illegal occupation of Palestine, a member of the cumann was the ógra delegate to the Basque Country in their hour of need to manning stalls on the Economic mess we find ourselves in and outlining what we believe is the way out of recession.”
“We are however acutely aware here in U.C.C., as I’m sure our comrades in C.I.T. who are helping us tonight are, that no tribute can pay full respect to these brave Volunteers other than the formation of a 32 County Socialist Republic, and it is to that we are unwaveringly devoted to, and will remain devoted to into the future,
Go raibh mile agat agus Tiochfaidh ár lá.'
Following this was Feilim Ó hAdhmaill (former P.O.W. and Social Science lecturer in U.C.C.) who was the main speaker of the night:
A chairde, is a chomradaithe,
Ar dtús barra, ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le hÓgra Shinn Féín as an chuireadh a thug siad dom bheith anseo anocht, le cupla focail a rá. Ba mhaith liom fosta comhghairdeachas a thabhairt d’Ógra as an chomóradh seo a reachtáil
Is cúis bhróid í domhsa bheith anseo i measca comradaithe ó Chorcaigh agus ag uaigheanna laochra s’agamsa agus s’agaibhse.
Ach is cúis bhróin í fosta domhsa, go raibh ar Ógra Shinn Féín an comóradh seo a reachtáil in ionad institiúid náisiúnta, nó Comhairle Cathrach Chorchái nó fiú an Ollscoil.
Is cúis náire í dar liom nach síleann na daoine a bhain an tairbhe is mó as íobairt na ndaoine seo sna huaigheanna, na daoine mór le rá, na boic mhóra, is cúis náire í nach raibh siadsan sásta an ócáid seo a reachtáil agus nach bhfuil siadsan i láthair anocht.
First of all, I want to start by thanking Ógra Shinn Féin for the invitation to say a few words at this commemoration tonight.
I also want to congratulate them for organising it.
I feel very proud to be here among comrades and friends from Cork and at the graveside of people I would class as heroes of mine and I daresay you would class them as your heroes also.
But I’m also sad to see that it took young people from Ógra to organise this instead of some national institution, or the likes of the City Council or even the University authorities
And though I am not surprised, it is still shameful that the people who gained the most from the sacrifice of these people in the graves, the important people, the well to do people, the rich people, the powerful people, it’s shameful that they feel unwilling or unable to organise this event or even to be present at it.
Maybe it says something about the society we are living in today – or the people that are running it.
I don’t know much about these volunteers. I don’t know from which parts of Cork they came or who their families were. I do know that they were among the few in their day who were prepared to go out, to paraphrase Pearse ‘to break their strength and die’ for you and for me and for the future generations.
I don’t intend to try and second guess what they would think about the society their sacrifice created. That lies with them in the grave. What I do know is that it takes a special type of motivation for young people to give up everything for a cause they believe in. I cannot see many of our present day politicians fitting that mould somehow.
What I can say is that it doesn’t seem to ME that we have created the society envisaged by Connolly and Pearse or Liam Mellows.
We haven’t created a society, which in the words of the 1916 Proclamation ‘cherishes the children of the nation equally’.
We haven’t realised the right as announced in the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil (1919), ‘the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the Nation’s labour’.
Nor have we seen the subordination ‘of the right to private property to the public right and welfare’.
The notion that private greed should be subordinated to social need does not seem to be heard much in this part of the world.
Instead we live in a land which remains divided between the North and the South and ill-divided between the rich and the poor which means that we as republicans and as socialists have a lot of challenges ahead.
In relation to the North I think there HAS been progress despite what many other republicans and socialists might think.
Britain still rules there and we may not be happy about that.
But there are possibilities there for further change. The Peace Process for all of its flaws - does present us with possibilities to organise particularly across the sectarian divide – if we have the will to do so.
Equality legislation has to a great extent eaten into the privileged position of unionism.
And while some inequalities still exist between Catholics and Protestants, the biggest inequalities now beginning to manifest themselves are between the classes.
One stark illustration of this is that a boy from West Belfast is currently expected to live six years less than a boy from South Belfast.
Increasingly we are witnessing something with which none of us should be happy - an increasing equality of misery and deprivation among BOTH Catholic and Protestant working class communities.
In Belfast today the highest levels of poor educational attainment are to be found among the poor on the Protestant Shankill Road, for example.
For me the greatest failure of republicanism in the North has not been the failure to end British rule there (although I’m not too happy about that either!) but the failure to attract even a respectable minority of the Protestant working class community, a community that is also oppressed by socio-economic deprivation and in some cases even more oppressed than some working class Catholic communities, the failure to attract even a respectable minority of the Protestant working class community to republicanism.
For me that should be one of the main challenges for republicans in the years leading up to the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
Tone talked about substituting the common name of Irish person, in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter. As secularists we should see this as our aim also. As socialists we should realise that not only is it in the interests of the Protestant working class to align themselves with us – but in light of the recent talks between the British Tories and the Unionist parties – there is also every reason why the Protestant working class may want to distance themselves from unionism if given safe and secure alternatives.
It is also interesting that the biggest party in Scotland, the ancestral home of most northern Protestants, is now the SNP. And their demand is for independence from Britain not Union. And they are mainly non-conformist Protestants.
There is no natural imperative for a Protestant, Ulster Scot to demand separation from the rest of the island.
What we need to do is to show the Protestants of the North that we aim to create a society of which they can have equal ownership and of which they can be proud.
In relation to the 26 County state, it’s clear that we haven’t created the society envisaged by Connolly or Mellows here, either.
When I first came to Cork three years ago I was shocked at the level of deprivation and inequality I saw – the division between Northside and Southside; the division between rich and poor; the fact that UCC, the place where I worked, was seen as the preserve of the middle and upper classes, and not for the likes of the working classes – my people!
In this day and age, that young people from working class backgrounds should feel alienated from places like UCC, a public institution, epitomises some of the problems which continue to exist in this society.
This type of inequality and marginalisation of major parts of our society has been well documented in many academic reports in recent years
In 2007, a Bank of Ireland report actually showed that the Irish state was the second richest country in the world per capita – but that per capita is important because it masked the fact that much of that wealth was in the hands of the few.
In 2008, an OECD report (not surprising called ‘Growing Unequal’) showed that the Irish state was the 7th most unequal among the 30 richest states and had the second highest levels of Poverty – after the USA.
And this was during the Celtic Tiger!
Despite the recession, the 26 County Irish State still remains one of the richest states in the world. It is also one of the most unequal.
It’s estimated that 34% of the wealth of Ireland is in the hands of the richest 1%.
Which leaves 66% for the rest – for 99% of the population
And what does this mean in terms of income
Figures for 2006 during the Celtic Tiger showed that
• Nearly 60% of families were living on less than €40,000 per year
• While more than a quarter of families were living on less than €20,000
• About 5% of households enjoyed incomes of more than €134,000.
• While 11,200 households were on incomes of €250,000 plus
What this means in real terms is that while the country's top chief executives can look forward to salary packages topping €1 million annually,
1.5 million Irish citizens earn less than €38,000 per annum.
It also means that unequal access to services –health, education- as well as income, affect current and future life chances and opportunities.
And about 5,000 people die prematurely here every year because of this inequality (according to the Institute of Public Health Report, Inequalities in Mortality 1989-1998, published in 2001 )
When we say we are socialists we are shouting to the high heavens that this situation cannot continue.
And when the Govt penalises the weakest in our society, by lowering already low wages and by cutting basic public services like health and education it’s time to say enough is enough!
When I was a youngster I had a vision of a new society, one where there were no British soldiers walking the streets on my estate, one where discrimination and hatred against religious/ ethnic minorities was a thing of the past, one where the racist, supremacist doctrines of Orangeism were confined to the rubbish dump of history, one where all of us on this island could feel ownership of it, and feel proud to belong to it.
One, to paraphrase another person who gave his life for this country, where we would find our revenge in “the laughter of our children” – all of them.
I don’t think that vision of a united Ireland, an Ireland of equals, a socialist Ireland, is something too much to ask for or to strive towards.
But we have to strive towards it, because it won’t be presented to us on a plate.
And the road will be a long one, full of many challenges - but not insurmountable.
Pearse once said, in answer to his critics.
‘Oh wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true?
What if the dream come true? And if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?’
Comrades, friends, let’s make this dream a reality!
To draw the official commemoration to a conclusion YVRFB played Ámhrán na bhFhiann.
It was agreed among all that the Commemoration was the most succesful yet, it was attended by local Councillors, senior members of the local party, amongst many members of the public and many remarked afterwards that Dr. Ó hÁdhmaills oration had not only struck a true chord, but that it had summarily expressed the current mood of the Republican movement, as well as more importantly, the mood of where the members of the movement wished to go.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
These services are under threat following a proposal by the government to cut €2.6 million in funding to the National Drugs Strategy.
Ógra Shinn Féin held a demonstration outside the offices of Junior Minister for Drugs Strategy John Curran, on Clondalkin's Main Street.
Speaking at the event, Sinn Féin councillor for Clondalkin Matthew McDonagh said it was "unnacceptable that communities must deal with the causes of drug and alcohol addiction with less funding at a time when statistics show that such problems are on the increase".
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The weekend began with a commemorative dinner dance on the Friday night which was organised by Strabane Memorial Flute band. This band was set up in memory of the 3 brave volunteers shortly after their deaths. The dinner dance drew a huge crowd and was a complete success.
Saturday morning saw an early start for the Republican youths as they travelled to Aghyaran to start off a Republican tour of West Tyrone. Stops were made in Castlederg, Castlefinn, Clady and finished off in Strabane.
Sinn Fein Councillors Kieran McGuire, Ruairi McHugh and Brian McMahon, alongside ex IRA POW Paul McGarvey gave the youths an in-depth insight of how each volunteer on the West Tyrone Roll of Honour was killed and succeeded in educating the youths of the courageous exploits of the Volunteers and the sacrifices they had made in their fight for Irish freedom.
On arrival in Strabane, the youths proceeded to Fountain Street community centre where the 25th Anniversary Committee had set up an exhibition which was attended by hundreds throughout the duration of the weekend. The exhibition displayed personal belongings of the 3 volunteers, letters which were sent to the families at the time of their deaths, the Remembrance quilt which was put together by families of Volunteers throughout the island and a collection of republican memorabilia related to the 3 volunteers.
The commemorative DVD ‘Twilight Graves’ which was produced in memory of the 3 young IRA men was also launched at this event and can be purchased by contacting the Strabane Sinn Féin centre on 028 7188 6464.
A social event was held in Drumquin GAA Clubrooms on the Saturday evening as part of the commemorative weekend. The event was attended by many from the surrounding areas and music was provided by Armagh rebel band ‘Paddywagon’. The event was a complete success and enjoyed by all who attended.
The main event was held on the Sunday afternoon. The annual band parade was held in Strabane and saw hundreds of Republicans from across the island and oversees unite and march in memory of the 3 brave young men. The main speaker Martin McGuinness gave his account of his memory of the deaths of the volunteers and spoke of their selfless heroism. He also spoke of the great distance Republicans have come and how we have broken the old ways of the Orange state.
“Orange parades through nationalist areas where they are not wanted have been consigned to a thing of the past. There is no going back to the days of domination and discrimination”.
Also at the parade Ógra Shinn Féin Tobias Molly Cumann unveiled a mural which was painted of the 3 volunteers. The mural was praised by the entire congregation and was a fitting tribute for our fallen comrades.
The huge turnout demonstrated the huge respect in which Charlie, Michael and David held and the large number of young people in attendance is testament to the lasting republican legacy of their ultimate sacrifice.
Speaking after the weekend Ógra activist Sean Gillespie stated,
“It’s great to see the crowd gathered here today to remember Charlie, Michael and David 25 years on. It’s a great tribute to the 3 Volunteers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. They were only young men, who were the age of many members of Ógra Shinn Fein. They gave their lives for the struggle that we continue here today. Although the battlefield and the tactics have changed, it does not mean we can take it easy. If anything we must step up our campaign. It is through our commitment and activism that we will unite our country.”
“A huge amount of time and effort has gone into this year’s commemorative events and it was an enormous tribute in memory of our 3 local volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in or helped to organise this year’s very successful commemorative events. We are extremely proud of the sacrifice Charlie, Michael and David made for our town and Ireland as a whole, the effort put in by everyone this weekend ensures that the memory of our local republican dead is never forgotten.”
Monday, February 22, 2010
The event, which was held by the D'Arcy/Mellows Cumann in the college attracted a healthy crowd of over thirty young Galway students.
Following an introduction from NUIG member Luke Callinan, Eoin O’Broin – Ógra Shinn Féin’s first National Organiser - spoke of the origins of Sinn Féin, the party’s history and it’s possible futures.
The talk provided students with an interesting view on the the politics of left-wing Republicanism and the various political and social opinions that it embodies. “Sinn Féin is part of a distinct left-republican tradition in Irish society whose future lies in the globally resurgent radical democratic left.”
The event drew to a close with questions and debate from the floor on such issues as the current economic climate and Sinn Féin’s electoral performance south of the border.
Ógra Shinn Féin activist, and Connaught Organiser Mairéad Farrell spoke afterwards on the success of the event: ‘The politics of socialist republicanism have often been misunderstood and people also tend to treat them as two distinct notions, however, as Eoin explained tonight the concepts of Socialism and Republicanism are inextricably linked and for anyone to say differently is to undermine the concepts of equality and freedom that Republicanism espouses'.
'The questions and answers session at the closing stages was particularly important to the success of the event as it gave the audience a chance to raise issues they had in relation to both Sinn Féin and various current affairs topics involving Sinn Féin. Going by the feedback from students it was a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging debate ’.
Diane Abbott – Labour MP, was Britain’s first black Female MP when elected in 1987
Ronan Bennett – novelist and screenwriter
John Connolly – from the Council of Irish Counties
Paul Bew – Peer in the House of Lords and a professor on Irish Politics in Queens
Micheal Burke – Socialist Economist and Writer
Jarlath Burns – GAA
Jeremy Corbyn – Labour MP
Alf Dubs - Labour Peer, and former MP
Jayne Fisher – Sinn Féin London
Mick Halpenny – SIPTU
Mary Hickman – Professor of irish Studies and Sociology at London Metropolitan University
Christine Kinealy – Writer and Professor on Modern Irish History in Drew University
Ken Livingstone –Former Labour MP and former Mayor of London
Anni Marjoram – former political advisor to Ken Livingstone and chair of Labour Committee on Ireland
Conall McDevitt – SDLP MLA
Alex McDonnell – Community worker with London’s Irish Community
Patricia McKeown – UNISON and ICTU
Kevin McNamara – Former Labour MP and Labour spokesperson on the north
Jennie McShannon - Federation of Irish Societies
Seamus Milne – Guardian Columnist
Jon Myles – Journalist, specialising in Irish/British affairs
Andy Pollak – Centre for Cross Border Studies
Dr Margaret Ward – Women’s Resource and Development Agency, Belfast
Salma Yaqoob – Birmingham City Cllr, and leader of Respect.
The evening was closed by Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy M.P. with a considered and comprehensive analysis of where things stand at present, and what remains to be done, and all leaving the conference would have done so challenged by the debate and with their resolve strengthened.
The conference was attended by National Organiser Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, as it presented an excellent opportunity to create links and develop contacts with young republicans, and those supportive of Irish Unity abroad. Useful contacts were made with members of Respect Youth and Labour Youth, and there was a good deal of discussion on the role young people can play, both in Ireland and in Britain.
Commenting on the conference he stated - ‘this conference was a massive success, and is a huge credit to all those who organised it. The huge crowd got to hear a great variety of different points of view on Irish Unity, and is great encouragement to Republicans both here in Ireland, and in Britain.
It was particularly encouraging to see such a good crowd of young people at the conference, from various political parties and organisations, who all have support for Irish Unity in common, it’s a sign that the struggle will continue to be carried forward on all fronts.
Following on from this Ógra, as part of the national campaign ‘Who Fears to Speak of a United Ireland’ will be examining further new ways in which we can promote Irish Unity in Britain and develop support for it among young people’.
If you are based in Britain and are interested in helping the cause of Irish Unity, email email@example.com
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The 'Celebrating the Women of Struggle' Dinner Dance will take place in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane on Saturday 15th May and guests of honour on the night will be the families of the women on the Irish Republican Roll of Honour. There will also be a number of honourees on the night, women who have played a major role in the fight for Irish freedom, and who have continually assisted, supported and inspired Irish Republican Youth.
The national event will begin at 8pm sharp, and as well as a 4 Course Meal, there will be a prominent speaker, presentations to the families and honourees, and music by Ireland's finest rebel/folk band 'Paddywagon'. Tickets are priced at only £25 and due to huge demand, people interested in attending are asked to get tickets early. For tickets contact Barry McColgan on 07885569940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
National Chairperson Declan Kearney opened proceedings outlining the importance of a United Ireland, and the road map to which we can achieve this. Declan pointed out that although the Good Friday Agreement, and subsequent St. Andrews and Hillsborough agreements, aren’t Republican documents. They provide the framework to popularise Republicanism through electoral strength. The main priority for us, as Republicans, is to remove all strands of political power from Britain and empower local democratically elected community activists. The inroads we have achieved to reunification and the increased dependability of cross border bodies are all indications of the direction we are moving.
Mary Lou McDonald, party Vice President and a member of the United Ireland Task Force spoke about the task of popularising Republicanism in the 26 counties, and about how to make the national question relevant to southern voters. There is an impression that Irish unity is an old wives tale to many southern voters, something that is desirable but unobtainable. Our job is to make that dream a reality.
Mary Lou went on to quell the rumours that if reunification was to happen we would somehow emerge with a weaker economy. In fact this would be quite the opposite, we demand, as stated in the Proclamation of 1916, the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. Thus giving the Irish people full control of their economy. The fact that on an island the size of Ireland we have a split economy, 2 currencies, and duplicate departments all serve to promote a United Ireland using only common sense as the argument.
Ógra Shinn Féin have welcomed the announcement of a £20 million investment in Irish language projects.
Speaking Irish culture and language officer for Ógra, Laura Gildernew said:
"The announcement of the continued funding for the Irish broadcast fund beyond 2011 is a welcome one. It is my understanding that out of the £20 million pledged £12 million will go towards the broadcasting fund and the remaining £8 million will be used for capital projects.
“I also welcome that fact that a draft strategy on the Irish language will be brought to the executive in the north in the coming weeks. The end result of this work will ensure that the rights of Irish speakers are protected and enhanced. This also must include challenging the 1737 act, which amongst it measures bans the use of Irish in the courts.
“Cuireann Ógra fáilte ar fógairt an ciste craoltóireacht seo. Tá orainn uile obair le chéile chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, agus a chinntiú go leanann an Ghaeilge ag forbairt, agus is cuid den forbairt sin í an chiste seo. Is le muintir na héireann uile an teanga, ní hamháin grúpa beag daoine'
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Ógra activists were accompanied by senior party activists from the town including Debbie Coyle. Throughout the day the Ógra activists engaged with members of the public on the issue of the current repression in the Basque country.
According to Fermanagh Ógra activist Chris Conwell the activists got a good response from the local people they spoke to:
“We are here today to highlight and call for an end to the repressive measures in the Basque country. The response from the public has been very good. Many were shocked to hear of what is happening currently in the Basque country.
“Such an increase in repression is counter productive and flies in the face of recent moves by the left independence movement. In recent months we have seen the pro independence movement set out their vision for the future of the Basque country.
“In it, the pro-Independence Left declares without reservations "support for a peaceful, political and democratic process in order to achieve an inclusive democracy, where the Basque people, freely and without any intimidation of any kind, will be able to decide their future.” They have highlighted the need to initiate a democratic solution to the Basque conflict. However in the following days the pro independence movement was given the answer to their endeavors to bring forward a democratic process when over 30 youth activists were arrested in dawn raids throughout the Basque country.
“The ‘crime’ of these young people was to organise and promote political ideals of Basque independence and socialism.
“We support the fundamental human, civil and political rights of the Basque people as laid out in the UN declaration of human rights and call upon the Spanish and indeed the French to end their repressive measures in the Basque country.
The event was based in the picturesque town of Corte, where the University of Corsica is based, in the historical capital of Corsica.
As with previous years the event was organised along a number of themes which were at the set the tone for the public talks and workshops, and this year it was the relationship of young people with agriculture, and the difficulty for small non-independent nations to fully exploit their natural resources.
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, in emphasising the importance of such events, and of international Solidarity, had this to say;
‘Sinn Féin supports the rights of small nations to self determination, and in learning about other struggles, events like these are essential to our struggle. From such encounters we can learn from other activists and apply their experiences to our own struggle. Likewise, I hope that our experiences can be of assistance to their struggles.’
It premieres on Sunday 21st feb. at Cineworld, Parnel St. Dublin at 3.30pm.
The movement arose in reaction to the lack of action from the authorities against the growth of heroin abuse in the inner city, and saw a degree of success despite hostility from the media and the authorities.
However the period remains a significant moment in the history of working class Dublin, and may be of interest to activists.
Dr Feilim O'hAdhmaill,
Lecturer in Social Science
University College Cork
The last few weeks in the North have brought into focus once again the difficulties faced by republicans in achieving acceptance among large sections of the unionist community for even quite modest change — never mind the Irish Republic we strive for.
Centuries of colonial rule, with its accompanying privileges combined with a genuine fear that an Irish democracy would lead to rule (and oppression) by the native Irish have served to unite the bulk of the of Protestants around a peculiar concept of loyalism which appears confusing, not least to the British themselves.
Yet the fact remains that without the support of at least a section of that community and, I would argue, the acquiescence of a majority, the likelihood of a peaceful transition to a new independent Irish republic is unlikely.
Breaking down privilege through the promotion of the equality agenda is clearly important in removing part of the raison d'etre for descendants of the planter community wanting to remain separate from the rest of Irish society. However, the concept of an independent Ireland must also be attractive enough for people in the North (and not just unionists) to want to buy into. Republicans thus need to couple the promotion of the equality agenda with a vision of a new Ireland, which can stimulate the imagination of the current generation.
The past eleven years has seen major changes in Irish society North and in the South including major changes in the relationships between both parts of Ireland and Britain. There have also been major changes in republican thinking, strategy and tactics.
A number of local factors — a period of relative peace, the erosion of the British constitutional guarantee, of unionist power and its old certainties, the equality agenda, cross-border initiatives, relative prosperity, demographic changes, the emergence of an increasingly confident nationalist middle class in the North, the Celtic Tiger, secularisation of society, increasing multi-culturalism , have all combined with international influences — globalisation, the EU, etc, to produce a convergence North and South, of social, cultural, economic and political structures, influences and interests.
It is no longer the case that unionists in the North can clearly identify their interests as being wrapped up in a Six-County state based on sectarian privilege and propped up by Britain. Britain, under pressure from nationalist Ireland and the international community is slowly removing the props of unionist power and supremacy.
While it is clear that the unionist community has many social and cultural aspects which unites it and keeps it separate from nationalists in the North and people in the South, on an economic level it is increasingly unclear to many northern Protestants that their economic interests lie in such separation
The traditionally 'Protestant' industries are in decline or increasingly challenged through the equality agenda. They are also increasingly becoming foreign or southern-owned. The are no longer guaranteed jobs in the Shipyard. While Protestants are still marginally better off economically than Catholics this masks a reality of great poverty and deprivation amongst many Protestants. It is increasingly the case that the Protestant and Catholic working classes are sharing the deprivation, which exists in the North.
It is arguable that it is too simplistic to say that economic interests are no longer the major issue they were in the past. There is the major British subvention to this part of the world every year, which doesn't include the massive injection of funding for employment in defence. If Protestants are to contemplate a united Ireland they must believe their standard of living would improve as a result.
It is also is arguable that it is the social and cultural aspects of unionism which prevents most Protestants nowadays from embracing the concept of a united Ireland.
Historically, Protestants have politically, economically, socially and culturally viewed themselves as one community united in defence of shared interests against those trying to destroy them. This is despite the fact that the Protestant community represents a multi-faceted spectrum of opinion, views, interests and religions.
Anyone who is part of a community recognises the strength and importance of community bonds. Those Protestants in the North who have been attracted to republicanism can testify to the difficulty presented by such community bonds. While the concept of unionism remains part and parcel of such bonds it remains difficult to attract Protestants to republicanism.
The social and cultural dimensions of Protestant allegiance toward unionism have strong historic roots. The historic refusal of Catholic Ireland to embrace Protestants reinforced the social and cultural bonds between diverse groups of Protestants. This process was reproduced and reinforced by the social and cultural apartheid of living in the North.
For Protestants to embrace republicanism as opposed to unionism they need to embrace it socially, culturally, economically and politically. Their concerns, needs, expectations and dreams on those levels need to be addressed by republicans. It means breaking down the social and cultural apartheid, which exists in the North and between North and South.
Republicans need to re-assess how they can contribute to breaking down social and cultural barriers which exists between themselves and many northern Protestants as much as they need to break down barriers between North and South. It means being able to show Protestants that in a new Ireland they wouldn't be outsiders -- and that they are not outsiders now as far as republicans are concerned.
Republicans have long claimed to be the inheritors of the universalist principles espoused by the United Irish Movement and the French Revolution, where concepts of citizenship transcend ethnic identities, the common name of Irish person replaces the ethno-religious divisions of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. Yet emerging from one major ethnic group and being based there usually leads to an over identification with one ethnic identity, its needs and concerns. Is it either desirable, appropriate or possible to promote a universalist, as opposed to ethnocentric, concept of citizenship while being indelibly linked to one ethnic community?
Ultimately, if republicans are serious about creating a republic based on universalist concepts of citizenship they need to transcend the old ethnic divisions. This means recognising that there is a difference between an ethnic identity -- British, Protestant, Scots-Irish, etc and a political philosophy — unionism.
Unionism is a political idea -- nothing more. There is no historical imperative, which prevents Protestants from being non-unionists. Even if the concept of Britishness is taken as one aspect of the culture of northern Protestants there is no requisite that this should dominate political thinking. Many British people live in many different countries throughout the world without feeling a need to promote a union of that country with Britain. Why should it be different in relation to Ireland? In fact the reality of life in Ireland today is a multicultural one.
In the 1790s it was Protestants in the North who led the way in promoting the new doctrine of republicanism. The current challenge to republicans is to construct and define a republicanism which can again attract a sizeable northern Protestant component.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Speaking at the event, Ógra Dublin spokesperson Marcus Ó' Maoldomhnaigh said:
"It's great to see so many people here today showing solidarity with the people of the Basque County. Recently the Spanish government has been carrying out a crackdown on all forms of Basque Nationalism - dozens of Basque nationalists have been arrested and imprisoned without fair trial - many have been tortured. It is also highly ironic that Spain has lodged a complaint to the US over their treatment of five Spanish citizens who had been held in Guantanamo last year while at the same time the Spanish were allegedly torturing Basque prisoners. Ógra Shinn Féin will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the Basque County in their struggle for independence".
Freedom for the Basque Country!!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
His recent book, ‘Sinn Fein and the Politics of Left Republicanism’ will form the basis of the talk which will take place in the Cairnes Theatre at 8pm.
This will be followed by questions and discussion from the floor.
Encouraging people to attend the event, NUIG Ógra Shinn Féin member, Senan Mac Aoidh said,
caint spéisiúil agus áisiúil a bheas ann go háirithid i gcomhair tuilleadh a fhoghlaim faoi phoblachtachas agus sóisialachas".
Fáilte roimh cách
For more information contact Ógra Shinn Féin in NUI Galway: email@example.com
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
So finally after an incredibly riveting and heart thumping leadership challenge the youthful energetic SDLP have chosen Margaret Ritchie as their new commander and chief.
I lie, lets start again. So finally after an incredibly nauseating and mind numbingly boring leadership challenge the blue rinse brigade of the SDLP have chosen true blue Maggie over the other true blue Alisdair.
Lets hope Margaret Ritchie can finish a speech without whimpering the whole way through it. Sentiments that were even echoed by Tom Kelly the SDLP’s Irish News pin up boy. The Stoops really are in trouble when even he is getting the boot in.
The footnote that was the SDLP’s conference demonstrated with crystal clarity just how bad things are for the North’s upper middle class party. The week started of badly for the Stoops. Sinn Féin as the principle party of Northern Nationalists and Republicans secured the devolution of policing and justice, removing it and other powers from London to Ireland. Another step to the Republic. Not surprisingly political, media and public attention was focused on these talks, mercifully sparing us coverage of the big ‘build up’ to the SDLP conference.
And even over the weekend, the expectant news that the Sticks and the INLA would put their weapons beyond use over shadowed their conference even further.
I tell ya, things must be bad if the sticks get more attention.
The attacks of renegade MP Eddie Mc Grady on Fianna Fáil’s decision to mobilise North, has caused further division in an already badly fractured party. Many Stoops, like a damsel in distress are waiting to be rescued by the burly arms of BIFFO. A rescue by the looks of things that ain’t gonna happen.
Ritchie is not even standing in this Westminster election, instead her lack lustre performance at the last assembly election in which she came second to Sinn Féin’s Education Minister Caitronia Ruane, scared the bejesus out of them. So once again Mc Grady (with his Unionist voters) is rolled out in a desperate attempt to halt Sinn Féin’s rise.
So not only is their leader NOT standing in this election, their MP for south Belfast and leadership runner up will fight for his political life come May, if Unionism gets its act together its bye bye Alisdair. Mc Donnell is on borrowed time. Mark Durkan like Gerry Fitt before him is of to retire to Westminster. Although he will continue to fight for the Foyle seat, his diminished role will impact on his electoral performance in a constituency that, like south Down Sinn Féin is on the up.
Margaret Ritchie’s stating her ambition of being ‘First Minister’ was uncomfortable to watch so too were the - count on one hand ‘young’ SDLP members hauled in front of the camera to create the illusion that the party has members under 50.
Every speech and politician from the SDLP spent the weekend claiming either sole credit for the Good Friday Agreement or blaming every problem in the world on us - including the weather.
While the stoops look to the past, we look to the future.
Lets make sure they are given their P45’s come May.
The campaigning starts now.
An Phoblacht Abú!
Monday, February 08, 2010
The much anticipated public talk will be held at 5.30pm in Club Room 3 in the QUB Student’s Union, and the panel will have a number of high profile speakers including Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald, and Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney, who will discuss the merits of a United Ireland, and a road map to get there.
The talk will be part of Sinn Féin’s ongoing campaign for a United Ireland, with major conferences already haven taken place across the USA, a huge event planned for London on the 20th February, and Ógra Shinn Féin having launched their ‘Who fears to speak of a United Ireland?’ campaign.
The public talk, is open to absolutely everyone, and hopes to attract a diverse group of students and young people alike. However people are advised to arrive early due to a huge interest and limited seating.
Encouraging people to come along to the public talk, Queen’s student activist and candidate in the upcoming student union sabbatical elections, Grace Lynch said,
“There has been a national and international conversation re-ignited on a United Ireland, thanks to the huge efforts of Sinn Féin. The major ‘Irish Unity’ conferences taking place across the world, and now being rolled out across Ireland, are sparking a new found enthusiasm amongst young republicans and nationalists on the need to push forward the demands for Irish Unity.”
“The public talk in Queens has two excellent speakers, Declan and Mary Lou, a new generation of republican leadership who will articulate our vision for Irish Unity, and how we will get there. It will focus on many things, health, education, the economy, and a question and answer session will ensure that many other issues are teased out. This is a highly anticipated debate and there is already a huge level of interest, so my advice to anyone interested in going is to be there early. Bígí Linn.”
The commemoration was due to take place on New Years Day, but due to the terrible weather conditions at that time it was postponed until Sunday past.
A lone piper and a Republican Colour Party comprising many Ógra activists led the march to the O’Hanlon and South Monument, which is built from the original stone, and site of the barn where the two fatally injured volunteers where carried by their comrades.
At the monument, wreaths where laid on behalf of Óglaigh na hÉireann, and Ógra Shinn Féin. A lament was played, before Pat Treanor gave the main oration. The piper finished proceedings by playing Amhrán na bhFiann.
Speaking on a fitting commemoration on the 53rd anniversary of the selfless sacrifice of Volunteers Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon, Fermanagh Ógra Shinn Féin chairperson Chris Conwell said,
“It is vitally important that young republicans today, remember the sacrifice of those that went before us, and continue to commemorate all our fallen comrades and stand in solidarity with their families. This was particularly evident at Sunday’s march, where young republicans turned out in numbers to remember these fine young volunteers and to pledge themselves to continue their struggle until Ireland is free and a republic is established which stands true to the 1916 Proclamation. That is the only true monument to Sean and Fergal, befitting their heroic and selfless sacrifice for Ireland and its people.”
A life long community activist she has been involved in Sinn Fein for around 5 years, holding various positions locally and at Cuige Level. Grace has been instrumental in the success of Queen’s University Sinn Fein over the years and has helped build a lasting and strong Ógra Shinn Féin Cumann in Castlederg. Grace will be hoping to build on the strong vote gained last year, and take the vote a step further and secure a seat.
Speaking at the selection conference Grace said,
“I feel honoured to be selected to represent the party within Queens Students Union. We are entering these elections to win, and using the great work carried out on campus by the Sheena Campbell Cumann as a foundation to our campaign I feel we are hitting the ground running. I have a great team around me, and I look forward to the coming weeks when we will canvassing doors in and around the Holylands. As with every Sinn Féin activist, if elected I will be working on a basis of equality, for all students.”
Within the Jordanstown Campus we will be running 2 candidates, Paul Short and Liam Duggan.
Liam Duggan, a second year student in Jordanstown, is currently studying Politics with Sociology. Liam is from Lavey in South Derry and has been strongly involved with Sinn Féin both locally for four years and with Sinn Féin in the colleges. Liam has a keen interest in active citizenship and also has a keen interest in the GAA and plays both Hurling and Football for his local club, Lavey GFC. Liam is also heavily involved with various cross community organisations and is Chairperson for one of these groups.
Liam was also appointed a leader for a delegation of ten young people from across the north that went to Sweden for two weeks on a youth leadership and cross community programme. The programme lasted 8 months in total.
"I feel both honoured and excited to be selected to represent the party along with my good friend and comrade Paul to contest the Student Union elections in Jordanstown. We will be entering these elections to win and to build on the vote won by Caolán Quinn last year. We have a strong Cumann and vibrant support structures around us and I am looking forward to campaigning and working to build a better students union for the students of Jordanstown and the Universtity of Ulster in general. If elected I will continue to work for equality and ensure that discriminatory practices are eradicated within the university and Sinn Féin is afforded the same respect as the other parties."
Paul has been involved with numerous charities and has held fundraisers for various causes including raising much needed money for a Cambodian orphanage which he visited whilst backpacking through South East Asia in July 2008.
Speaking at the selection conference Paul said,
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
The weekend of events has been organised by Ógra Shinn Féin over the past number of years and it continues to gather pace and attract more young republicans every year, who are keen to be educated through the many educational talks, meet with other like minded young republicans and to march in solidarity with the families of those brutally murdered on Bloody Sunday.
Friday night began with an introduction from Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry Paul Fleming, who gave a warm welcome to delegates and stressed the importance of the quest for truth and justice for the Bloody Sunday families. Next on the Friday night clár was a showing of the film ‘Sunday’ which was introduced by Martina Anderson MLA, and proceedings ended with a rebel night with music by Gary Óg, and the highly acclaimed Liam Lappin.
Saturday morning began early with a tour of the Derry republican plot by local republicans Micky Kinsella and Charlie McMenamin. Following on from this, two talks where hosted in the Culturlann centre. The first on the brutal censorship in the Basque Country, and the second, on Youth for Truth, which focussed on the ongoing fight for justice and truth for families bereaved through state violence and collusion. The talk which was hosted by Ógra Shinn Féin had John Kelly of the Bloody Sunday families, Mark Thomson of RFJ and Raymond McCartney MLA speaking. Saturday’s proceedings where brought to a close with a family wreath laying ceremony at the Bloody Sunday monument.
Sunday morning came early for anyone who had enjoyed the festivities of the night before, with a walking tour of Derry, that took in both the ancient and recent histories of the city, and focussed in particular of the huge role that young people have played in the republican resistance of Derry. On the way to the beginning of the march, Ógra launched a mural, on their new national campaign, ‘Who fears a United Ireland?’ which was witnessed by thousands who took part in the Bloody Sunday March. Ógra then took up their position in the march, walking behind a banner, demanding an end to academic selection. It was particularly apt as young people where carrying it, and because Ógra have an ongoing campaign ‘Educate to be Free.’
Speaking on a highly educational and successful weekend Derry Ógra Shinn Féin chairperson Adrian Óg Kelly said,
“Ógra Shinn Féin fully supports the rightful demands of the Bloody Sunday Families for Truth and Justice. That was the main and overriding reason why so many young republicans and Ógra activists travelled to Derry this weekend, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the families and to add pressure and support in calling for their demands to be met.”
“While we had a very educational weekend, and many learnt a lot, particularly of the ongoing campaign for truth and justice, we where heartened and inspired by the resolve of the many family members who attended the Youth For Truth talk. It is their resolve and determination that will ensure that truth and justice will become a reality and Britain’s bloody legacy in Ireland will be shown internationally for what it is. We in Ógra Shinn Féin aim to be beside the families at every stage of this campaign.”