Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ógra Shinn Féin block Entrance of Equality Commission over Easter Lily Ruling

Ógra Shinn Féin blocked the entrance to the Equality Commission’s Office in Shaftsbury Square, Belfast in protest at their ruling last year on the Easter Lily, which states the ‘clear view’ that the Easter Lily was not an emblem which could be worn in the workplace.

The entrance was blocked for an hour, from 12pm to 1pm, in what the republican youth group describes as an ‘act of civil disobedience at this disrespectful decision and double standards’

Ógra Shinn Féin have been busy on this campaign throughout Easter promoting the Easter Lily, in communities, schools and universities across Ireland. This has been done through the erection of Easter lily murals and stencils painted across the north.

Speaking from the protest, Ulster Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin, Fra Cochrane said,
“The Easter Lily should be afforded equal status, and it is a crazy, archaic decision to forbid the wearing of it in the workplace or anywhere else. This blatant act of censorship, has deeply annoyed republicans, who are hurt and angry that the Equality Commission would disrespect the Easter Lily and with that Ireland’s Patriot Dead.”
“Our protest today was an act of civil disobedience at this shocking attitude shown by the Equality Commission. It was aimed at highlighting the absurdity of the Equality Commission’s double standards in this day and age when we have Republicans in ministerial positions and Sinn Fein the largest party in the 6 counties. We are calling for equal respect for Ireland’s patriot dead, and that the proper status is granted to the Easter Lily so that it can be worn openly and freely.”
“The days of second class citizenship are over. This campaign will continue until this ridiculous decision is overturned and republican rights respected.”

Munster Ógra Promote the Easter Lily

Munster Ógra Shinn Féin has begun it's Easter campaign of highlighting the Easter Lily by raising awareness of the symbol throughout the Cuige.

Vice-Chair of Munster Ógra Shinn Féin Alan Conway had this to say,

"Easter is a time of rememberence and in promoting the Easter Lily we salute those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of Irish freedom."

No Job? No Future? No Way!

Cork Ógra Shinn Féin recently held a postcard signing asking people to register their disgust at the governments lack of action on unemployment. The postcards will soon be delivered en masse to An Taoiseach's office along with thousands more from across the country.

The action forms part of a wider campaign initiated by Sinn Féin a number of weeks ago in an attempt to curb rising youth unemployment.

Cork North-West Ógra activist Aidan Bradley commented,

"The 26 County Government has shown it is completely inept in dealing with the current unemployment crisis and we call on them to immediately implement Sinn Féin's latest job creation proposals which would take at least 50000 people under the age of 25 off the dole."

"Among Sinn Féin's proposals are the creation of a youth jobs fund to create 20000 jobs, the creation of 10000 community employment places, 5000 free ECDL places, 2000 places on a 'one more language scheme' as well as the initiation of a national entrepreneurship programme.”

For more information please visit

Castlederg Ógra promote the Easter Lily

Members of the local Ógra Shinn Féin Cumman were joined by local Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairi Mc Hugh and Strabane District Council chairman Kieran Mc Guire as they unveiled a mural promoting the wearing of the Easter Lily to commemorate those who died in the cause of Irish freedom.

Speaking at the unveiling Councillor Mc Hugh said,
''I would like to commend those members of Ógra Shinn Féin who worked on the painting of this mural. Easter time for Republicans is about remembering all those men and women who died in the struggle for Irish freedom. ''
“We are very proud to remember our friends and comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice and this weekend we as Irish Republicans will re-dedicate ourselves to that same cause for which they died, namely, the re-unification of our country. I would also urge people to attend the local graveside ceremony which takes place at 12 noon in Aghyaran graveyard and as this mural says to honour Ireland's patriot dead by wearing an Easter Lily."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

West Tyrone Ógra Promoting the Easter Lily

The Dermot Crowley Ógra Shinn Féin cumann West Tyrone, have erected over a dozen Easter lily murals across Tyrone in an ongoing campaign to promote the symbol in remembrance of Ireland's patriot dead.
The Easter lily murals have been erected in advance of the over 40 Republican Commemorations taking place throughout Tyrone over Easter Weekend, culminating in the Main County Commemoration in Carrickmore on Easter Sunday.

Speaking on the ongoing campaign to promote the Easter Lily, Ógra activist Stevey McGahan said,

"Young republicans across Tyrone have been busy promoting the Easter Lily, through door to door collections, leaflet drops and the erection of many murals."

"Easter is a time when we remember the sacrifice made by our patriot dead and recommit ourselves to the task of achieving what they dreamed and died for."

(Hunter Crescent, Omagh)


(Dromore, County Tyrone)


Ógra Shinn Féin Easter Message 2010

At easter we gather to remember those who have gone before us, to remember our patriot dead and to honour their commitment and sacrifice. We salute the families of the patriot dead, and note that significant progress has been made in the last year to delivering the republic they valued so much.

We also take this opportunity, at this time where we gather as comrades across the country, to salute our comrades internationally who daily struggle for self determination and dignity for their peoples, from Palestine to the Basque country, and many more beside.

The last 12 months have been highly significant for Ógra Shinn Féin, and republican youth in general. 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of na fianna éireann, the original republican youth movement, and as such, we endeavoured to ensure that this was marked with the apt energy, respect and ingenuity, and it is with great pride that Ógra notes the efforts of its activists to commemorate this anniversary, with murals, commemorations, publications videos, talks, and honouring the families of the members of Na Fianna on the roll of honour, at the Na Fianna Éireann dinner dance in Belfast last november.

Last year also saw Ógra campaign on a wide variety of issues such as promotion of the Easter lily, highlighting political oppression in the Basque country, and the national campaign 'Educate to be free, which was succesful in highlighting these issues to many young people, and in supporting Sinn Féín in its pursuit of an Education system that the people deserve.

The next twelve months are equally crucial however. Young people the length and breadth of the country are being trampled upon. No jobs, dole being cut, education cut backs and prohibitive third level fees. As young people and as republicans, we must endeavour to represent the young people affected by this, and to be a visible and effective lobby on their behalf, and to show them that young people can fight back.

This years national campaign 'Who fears to speak of a united ireland' also offers us opportunities to build support among young people. This campaign is intended to examine our desire for a United Ireland from a new and fresh perspective, popularising republicanism, and gaining an understanding of unionist opposition to unity. Its comes at a time when Sinn Féin is itself embarking on a renewed campaign on unity, involving the Irish Unity taskforce, and the various irish unity fora. Our work in engaging with young people around this issue will be crucial to the development of the continuing support of young people for our political project.

We applaud the excellent work that Sinn Féín is doing to highlight youth issues and to protect the rights of young people, and we will endeavour to make sure that Ógra continues to grow hand in glove with Sinn Féin.

The conditions for revolutionary and republican politics are present, and with this in mind we face the coming 12 months with optimism and energy. I urge all young people to get involved and to play their part in our struggle, by joining Ógra Shinn Féin, and helping us to build the New Ireland that the proclamation describes, but which as yet, remains unfulfilled.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The role of youth

Fra Cochrane
Ógra Shinn Féin

This article originally appeared in the South Down nuacht.

Young people have always played an important role in leading radical change especially during times of major political upheavals or in times of revolution, it has often been they who have driven a cause. This will likely always be the case because with youth comes idealism.In South Africa in 1944 a youth movement was formed by a number of idealistic young people who wanted to challenge their passion and translate it into action. They were determined to make a stand against injustice and fight for a better and more just society. One of these passionate young people was Nelson Mandela, and the embryonic youth movement he was part of was the African National Congress Youth League which in time merged into the ANC. Those same young people, after years of struggle, would play a pivotal role in bringing to an end the racial apartheid that had divided their country.

They were part of true revolutionary change and there's is just example of how young people can make a difference.
In today's Ireland we generally have more rights and enjoy a more peaceful society then past generations experienced. This is very welcome, but it does not mean that young people have nothing to campaign or fight for. We only have to look at the increasing number of young people who have been left languishing on dole queues to realise there is something fundamentally wrong with Irish society.

As republicans, our focus may have shifted but there is still a massive job of work to be done. The truth is that the British military presence in the Six Counties has been mostly removed and thankfully the constant harassment and victimisation of Republicans has been dramatically reduced. Many young people wish to see a united Ireland but they are also concerned about achieving a normal, fulfilling life. This means having access to a good education, successfully passing exams, having money in their pockets and the opportunity to build a life for themselves in a way that was denied to their parents and grandparents.
This does not mean that our republican objectives have become any less important and the role played by Ógra Shinn Féin on a range of issues is of vital importance. A united Ireland will benefit everyone and a single island economy has social, economic and political benefits. It would lead to greater job creation and increased opportunities and we need therefore to make our message clear to the youth of today - a united Ireland is the only way to achieve this.

Young people need be a force for change, and Ógra Shinn Féin is ensuring they are heard. Through numerous initiatives that highlight a range of issues, including the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse to our present campaign of 'Who Fears To Speak Of A United Ireland? we are to the fore in driving change. Our aim is to empower young people so they can be part of driving the change most of us want to see.
Young people must mobilize in order to achieve this - mobilize for jobs, mobilize for equality and mobilize for a united Ireland. Join Ógra Shinn Féin!
Caithfidh daoine óga iad féin a eagrú leis seo a bhaint amach - ar son post, ar son comhionannais, ar son Éire Aontaithe. Gabh le hÓgra Shinn Féin.

Doherty helps launch Ógra Easter Lily drive

As republicans in Strabane prepare for the upcoming Easter commemorations, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty and Cllr Keiran McGuire, Strabane District Council Chairman have called on people to wear an Easter Lily and to attend their local commemoration.

Their calls came as the two helped members of Ógra Shinn Féin launch their Easter billboard campaign. The youth movement have erected a number of billboards around the town promoting the wearing of the Easter Lily.

Speaking following the billboard launch the Sinn Féin MP said;

“Easter is a time when republicans gather to commemorate and pay tribute to the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of Irish Freedom.”

“At monuments and gravesides the length and breadth of Ireland and further afield Easter commemorations and wreath laying ceremonies will be taking place over the Easter period and especially on Easter Sunday. I would encourage people to attend their local commemorative event and to show that the sacrifice of our friends and comrades has not been forgotten, and that we still share their desire for freedom, justice and equality as outlined in the Easter proclamation of 1916.”

“The Easter Lily is our national symbol of remembrance and will be distributed far and wide by republican activists in the run up to Easter. I would call on those who share the ideals of the men and women who took a stand at Easter 1916 to wear an Easter Lily with pride. The local Strabane Commemoration will take place in Strabane cemetery at 12pm and the main Drumboe Martyrs Commemoration will leave from Johnston’s Corner Stranorlar at 3pm, Bígí linn!”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter Lily launched in Omagh

Sinn Féin members young and old joined Omagh District Council Vice Chair Sean Clarke in launching the Easter Lily in Omagh today (Wednesday 24 March).

The Easter Lily, which is worn to commemorate Ireland’s patriot dead, was launched ahead of the republican emblem being distributed across the O’Neill County.

Ógra Shinn Féin activists attended the launch to give their full support to the campaign to ensure that thousands of people throughout Tyrone will wear the Easter Lily in the lead up to Easter.

The republican youth movement have an ongoing campaign to gain equality for the Easter Lily, they have recently erected a number of Easter Lily murals in Carrickmore, and will be busy promoting the Lily door to door in the next fortnight.

Encouraging people to wear the Easter Lily, West Tyrone Ógra activist Stevie McGahan said,

“Easter is a time to remember all of those who give their lives for Irish freedom, and to stand in solidarity with the families of our patriot dead in their ongoing loss. 56 Volunteers and 3 Sinn Féin activists from Tyrone lost their lives in the recent phase of the conflict, the majority young men, whose lives where cut down, as they selflessly went out to achieve an Irish Republic. It is only right that today, the Republican Youth of Tyrone do their utmost to keep their spirit alive, and so we ask that you wear an Easter Lily with pride.”

Jobs Campaign Video

Anti- Racism week 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tyrone Ógra Gear up For Easter

Ógra Shinn Féin erected a number of murals in Carrickmore, County Tyrone last night (22 March) ahead of the main Easter Sunday County Commemoration taking place in the republican heartland.

The two murals erected on Quinn's Corner are one urging people to 'wear an Easter lily' in remembrance of Ireland's patriot dead and the other one is highlighting the strong solidarity links between the Basque and Irish Youth.

The murals are the first of many to be erected across Tyrone in the coming week.

Encouraging people to remember Ireland's patriot dead this Easter, Ógra spokesperson Kerry McColgan said,

"It is right and fitting that we remember the lasting legacy of the Leaders, men and women of Easter week, and to honour the sacrifice of all of those who have gave their lives for Irish freedom. To this end, we would encourage everyone to wear an Easter Lily and attend the many Easter Commemorations taking place throughout Tyrone, particularly the main County Commemoration in Carrickmore on Easter Sunday."

"Ógra Shinn Féin and the republican youth of Tyrone are ever mindful that without the huge sacrifices of our patriot dead, we would not be so far progressed on the road to freedom, and the least we can do is continue to keep their memory alive at Easter and ensure we lift the resolve and determination of another generation to achieve what they died for."

Tyrone Easter Commemorations 2010 - Bígí Linn!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ógra Shinn Féin ag rith ar son na Gaeilge i nGaillimh

Dé Céadaoin seo caite, Lá Fhéile Pádraig go deimhin, ghlac Ógra Shinn Féin, OÉ Gaillimh páirt i Rith 2010. Bhailigh na reathaithe ón chumann D’Arcy-Mellow’s sa gcoláiste ag an seipéal i mBearna ag 11.45 i.n. agus thosaigh an rith ag 12 i.n. ann. Rith siad ó Bhearna chuig cathair na Gaillimhe – thart ar 8 gciliméadair taobh thiar den Chathair - agus thóg sé thart faoi uair amháin ach bhí sé túirsiúil agus cailleadh cúpla duine ar an mbealach!

Tógadh na chéad chéimeanna de Rith 2010 i mBéal Feirste ar an 9 Márta 2010. I ndiaidh an tsearmanais tionscnaimh, osclaíodh an Bata agus cuireadh an teachtaireacht tacaíochta don Ghaeilge isteach ann. Ansin, bronnadh an bata ar rásaí an chéad chiliméadair agus thosaigh an turas.
Iompraíodh an Bata timpeall na hÉireann ar feadh naoi lá, ó mhaidin go hoíche, ar thuras 1600km, trí breis is 250 baile agus 15 gcondae! Críochnaigh sé ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig i gCathair na Gaillimhe!Ghlac go leor ball de Shinn Féin agus Ógra páirt ann, ag rith ó Bhéal Feirste timpeall na tíre, an bealach iomlán go Gaillimh. Ag deireadh an reatha, shiúil an grúpa Rith 2010 (muintir Ógra Shinn Féin san áireamh) suas tríd an mbaile le paráid Lá Fhéile Pádraig na Gaillimhe agus nuair a tháinig sé chuig an Fhaiche Mhór agus bhí an teachtaireacht críochnaithe, dúirt Senan Mac Aoidh – Oifigeach na Gaeilge d’Ógra Shinn Féin san ollscoil – é seo faoin imeacht:
'' Sílim gur bhain muidinne ar fad sult ar dóigh as an Rith, cé go bhfuil an chuid is mó againn traochta ón turas. Rud iontach a bhí ann ar son na teanga agus tá tuilleadh imeachtaí spreagúla cosúil leis de dhíth. ''

NUIG row in behind jobs for the unemployed campaign

Ógra Shinn Féin, NUI Galway recently set up a stall in the college which was based on the on-going unemployment crisis in the 26 counties. While its general objective was to highlight the drastic state of current unemployment figures, it was specifically aimed at drawing attention to the major problem of youth unemployment.

At the stall young activists asked fellow students to sign postcards addressed to An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen declaring that they want to put their ‘skills and education to work’ and furthermore, demanding that he ‘needs to act now to create jobs for the unemployed’. The United Ireland leaflets which were designed recently by Ógra Shinn Féin for the national campaign were also distributed at the stall, receiving an enthusiastic reception from most students.
Seán Perill who manned the stall for a considerable period of time on Tuesday felt that it was a brilliant idea and that it turned out to be extremely successful:
‘It’s crucial to keep in mind that at the moment, one in four young people are unemployed. Dole payments for young people were slashed in the last budget and it is estimated that 60,000 people emigrated in the last year with many more expected to leave this year. The government doesn’t have any credible job creation initiatives so therefore it is crucial to raise these issues. To hold the stall in a busy walkway on campus was great because it drew light on the issue of unemployment figures for many within the college as well as re-igniting the debate on an argument for a United Ireland among the student population, some of whom had never even contemplated the proposal before now.’

Nach bhfuil sé in am dúinn droim láimhe a thabhairt don Eaglais?

Tá siad nochtaithe mar dhream a raibh caimiléireacht, droch-chleachtais, tromaíocht agus seannósachas amaideach go smior iontu. Le tamall fada anuas tá líomhaintí ag teacht amach in éadan na heaglaise caitilicí in Éirinn fá dtaobh den droch-íde a bhí á thabhairt ag an il-iomad sagart do pháistí agus do dhaoine óga na tíre seo. Leoga tá an pápa i ndiaidh trioblóid a tharraingt air féin lena bhí a dhéanamh aige agus é in eapag i Munich. An pápa céanna nach féidir a bheith mícheart dar le teagasc na heaglaise.

Anois, anuas air na tuairiscí agus na nochtaithe uilig, sheol an pápa litir amach chuig paróistí agus tithe pobail na tíre seo ag cur ina luí ar dhaoine go bhfuil sé i ndáiríribh faoi fhadhb na caimiléireachta ina institiúid féin. Má léann tú an litir, tchífear nach bhfuil ann ach leithscéalta lofa. Rud a chur isteach ar go leor, mar shampla, an leithscéal a úsáideann sé ag míniú cad chuige gur tharla an droch-íde sa chéad áit – gur mar gheall ar dhí-eaglaisiú na tíre a bhí na tarlúintí seo titim amach. Sa litir déanann sé tagairt aríst 's aríst do chreideamh na gcaitliceach agus do mhíreanna ón bhíobla, is cuma sa diabhal i dtuairim an iriseora seo, ní ceist reiligiúnda í seo, is ceist coiriúlachta agus caimiléireachta í.

Ní haon ionadh go bhfaigheann muid cur chuige mar seo ón phápa Ratzinger. Fear atá ar dhuine de na daoine is coimeádaí i gcliarlathas na heaglaise. Is i dtreo nua a bhí an eaglais le bheith ag imeacht, 'spiorad Vatacáin 2' mar a thugtar air, ach an é an meon sin atá ag an phápa seo? Ní dóigh liom é ón mhéid atá cluinte againn uaidh. Ag moladh dlí canónta at bhíonn sé sa litir, ach 'sé an rud ná ní hé an dlí canónta dlí na tíre seo. Is ''poblacht'' é an stát ó dheas againn ar an oileán seo a deir an rialtas linn ach de réir mo thuisceana féin ní bhíonn ach dlí amháin i bpoblacht agus sin dlí na ndaoine. Ar oscailt chéad leathanaigh an bhunreachta againn ní shílfeá gur poblacht atá anseo leis na tagairtí ar fad do dhia.

Na ligfear don eaglais dallamullóg a chur orainn, is muintir na hÉireann ar leo an tír seo agus ní an eaglais chaitliceach ná eaglais ar bith eile. Tá an tír seo ag athrú, mar a admhaíonn an pápa féin, tá ról agus stádas na heaglaise ag ídiú i measc na ndaoine – buíochas le dia! Tá mé ag tnúth le tuilleadh laghdaithe agus ídithe ar an eagraíocht gan mhaith sin. Ní seo ach mo bharúil féin, agus ná bíodh míthuiscint ann, ní ag maslú an reiligiúin i gcoitinne atá mé ach cumhacht na heaglaise caitlicí in Éirinn. Caithfear dí-eaglaisiú na tíre seo a chur i gcrích mar is ceart agus caithfear dhul i ngleic leis an eaglais. Cumhacht pholaitiúil, eacnamúil, chultúrtha agus shóisialta atá acu. Cumhacht a chaithfidh muid, ar mhaithe linn féin, a bhaint uathu.

Tuaraim duine gan aithne í seo.

Sinn Féin students visit European Parliament

A delegation of Sinn Féin students were recently hosted by the party's MEP, Bairbre de Brún during a two day visit to the European Parliament in Brussels. The delegation comprised of twenty seven students active in cumainn organised at Queens University Belfast, University of Ulster (Coleraine, Magee and Jordanstown campuses) and St Mary's University College, Belfast.

The delegation pictured with Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún

The visit which included an extensive tour of the European Parliament focused on Sinn Féin's engagement with the institutions of the European Union and the need for Left parties to work together to build a social Europe. Niels Jongerius of the Dutch Socialist Party addressed the young activists on how he has helped build effective and imaginative campaigns with his party s youth section, ROOD on a range of issues including the campaign to end the allocation of slum housing to students.

Bologna Process

Renato Soeira, a staffer with *GUE/NGL provided an update on the roll out of the Bologna Process which while not an EU initiative sees the European Commission aiming to make higher level educational qualifications recognisable across borders. The process has been criticised by many for turning universities into businesses or 'diploma factories' rather than places of learning. Soeira pointed out real concerns that students are being treated as customers and the the system which is over regulated doesn't allow for national differences or individual considerations. The emphasis on the attainment of vocational degrees, while not always a bad thing, has meant a reduction in funding in some non-vocational areas and has seen sponsorship by big business of the more 'employable' education programmes. He also highlighted the fact that very little debate has taken place regarding its implementation.

The delegation pictured outside the European Parliament

United Ireland strategy

Speaking on their return, delegation member Colm McCorry said: "Our activists in the universities and colleges were very glad to be given an opportunity by the Sinn Féin European Department to see the work of our party s team in the European Union which is putting a strong focus on the roll out of our United Ireland strategy."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cork Ógra get active on National Campaign

Cork Ógra hit the streets on wednesday, St Patricks day, to kick start the local efforts in the national campaign.A number of activists gave out hundreds of leaflets as well as promoting the easter lily in the middle of Cork City ahead of the parade. At the same time, Ógra activist Joe Lynch was targeting the Balincollig parade, and a number of Ógra activists along with members of the Youghal Republican Flute band leafleted the parade in Youghal, East Cork. The leaflets attracted significant attention and hopefully sparked a degree of debate on the issue.

Ógra activist Niamh Kerins had this to say 'St Patricks day is a day when we are all proud to be Irish and celebrate what that means. But many people can sometimes disregard the fact that we have partition and that part of our country remains occupied, and its our job to challenge that. We got a great reaction today, as did our comrades in Ballincollig and Youghal, and people were interested in the arguments we were making for unity.

This is only a starting point though, and we must go on from here to really engage with people and popularise republicanism, and challenge attitudes.'

Monday, March 15, 2010

The role of women in our struggle,

Gemma mcKenna
National Gender Equality Officer
Ógra Shinn Féin

This International Women’s Day, I want to invite you to reflect on the numerous roles women have played throughout our struggle. The role of women is often overlooked in the history of this country but indeed it has been women who have constantly kept the fight for freedom going. It is not only the great leaders such as Mairéad Farrell and Sheena Campbell but the numerous women who names will never be known who have contributed greatly to this movement.Politics and indeed armies have always been male dominated both past and present not only in Ireland but all over the world. However, this has not intimidated women in Ireland coming forth to fight for Irish freedom in whatever capacity they could. Ever since men have taken up arms in the quest for freedom of this island women have joined them. History also tells us that women recognised what needed to be done and often led the way. This is clear as Countess Markievicz was herself a great leader and one of the founding members of Na Fianna Eireann. She also was involved in SF, Inghinidhe na hÉireann and played an active role in the Easter rising alongside Pearse and Connolly.

The position of women in reunification of our island was enshrined in the proclamation where women are said to be equal to men; this was during a time when women didn’t even have the vote. During the latest phase of our struggle women in Ireland came to the fore again in whatever way was necessary.

The women on the falls warned their community of the Brits coming by banging bin lids and when the Falls area was put under curfew in July 1970 it was the women led by Máire Drumm who pushed prams filled with supplies in the besigned area, ignoring the British Army and effectively breaking the curfew. It was majority women who led the anti- H blocks protests and voiced the concerns of the prisoners both in Long Kesh and Armagh. It was women who kept people in ‘safe houses’ and passed on important information. It was often the women who kept a family going when the men were imprisoned or had lost their lives in fighting the British Army. All these various roles should not be overlooked or underestimated, as it was the determination and courage of these ordinary women that kept our struggle alive.

Women also took up their guns in order to fight for a free and socialist Ireland. The women in Armagh Gaol endured the dirty protest along with the men in the H blocks and also took part in the first hunger strike in 1980. Cumman na mBan which was the women’s section of the army played a vital role throughout the war with leading figures such as Máiread Farrell.
Women have also taken on key political roles to advance the struggle; the first woman SF president was Margaret Buckley who took on the role in 1937. Máire Drumm became vice-president of the party in the 1970’s which has been followed by the current vice-president Mary-Lou Mac Donald.

SF is currently leading the way for women in politics as Republican women recognize their role in creating a socialist and united Ireland. They have not left it to the men to fight on their own before and will not do it now. We now have female councilors, MLA’s , ministers and MEP’s because where ever there is struggle for Irish freedom, women will be there in order to ensure the battle is won and the goal of a 32 socialist republic is achieved.

Women in Struggle Event in Cork

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Women’s debate opens up important discussion

Ógra Shinn Féin hosted a debate today in Queen’s University Student’s Union, Belfast. The discussion was led by former Ógra activist and current Moyle District Council Mayor, Cllr Cara McShane and West Belfast MLA, Jennifer McCann.

While both women opened the talk ‘from conflict to peace – a female perspective’ from a personal reflection, noting how they became politicised and active in the republican struggle, the debate that flowed soon focused on the current inequalities that exist for women today.

Jennifer noted in particular that women account for 52% of the population in the north, yet only 17% of the elected activists in the Assembly are women.

An interesting debate was also opened up on feminism, on defining it in the 21st century and making it relevant to people in their everyday lives.

Speaking on the debate, Ógra National Gender Equality Officer, Gemma McKenna said,

“The more we debate issues such as these, the more we realise both the progress that has been made, yet the massive strides that still need to be taken in gender equality. The talks from Cara and Jennifer were extremely thought provoking, and will provide much food for thought as we discuss and draw up future gender equality campaigns.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ógra member succesful in Student Election

Shaun Hannon, of Sligo Ógra Shinn Féin this week retained his position of equality officer in Sligo IT’s Students Union, with his renewed mandate a reflection on his sterling work thus far. His success came on the back of a tireless campaign organised by Connacht Ógra Shinn Féin.

Shaun Hannon, spoke of his delight at being re elected “I am relieved that I have retained the position and would like to thank Ógra Shinn Féin for all its support ahead of, and during the campaign. A lot of hard work was put into the campaign but it was worth it.”

Connacht Ógra Shinn Féin Organiser Mairéad Farrell said “We are delighted that the McManus cumann’s chairperson was re elected to the Student Union. Shaun is a great worker and we know that he will do all in his power to help the student body of Sligo IT. This augurs well for the forthcoming student elections in Connaught. NUI Galway are already preparing for their campaign, which will begin next week. Táim cinnte go mbeidh an bua linn arís!”

Ordinary women, and extraordinary women.

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire
National Organiser
Ógra Shinn Féin

As some of you will know, if I am asked to write an article on an issue, I will invariably go for an obscure and slightly odd angle. And so it is here. But bear with me…

A short time ago, I was watching a programme on BBC 4 about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, pretty humdrum stuff, usual BBC4 fare but there you go. It used this railway in Northern India to tell the stories of the people living in and around the area. And it was one of these people who inspired me to write this article. One of the people that was featured in the programme is a female railway porter by the name of Sita. By now in her 50s, her husband died when she was in her 30s, and she was left to provide for a family of five on her own.

Her only option for employment locally, was the Railway as a porter, normally a job for young men. This involves the most gruelling, back breaking work imaginable, hauling large bags and suitcases up steep hills and narrow streets. She is a slight woman, and visibly struggles, but doesn’t complain and just gets on with it. As the programme goes on, it becomes clear why she is willing to do this work. We see her arrive at what looks like a small fragile looking shack - the family home. The inside looks almost like a different house, tidy, well decorated, and with a television in the corner. She takes good care of the small amount she has. Her sons are well dressed, and she ensures they do their schoolwork, and reach the highest educational standard possible.

We meet her eldest son, an intelligent young man, and a hard worker. Sita wants him to go to college, but not only that, the very finest college in Darjeeling, St Josephs, which would cost much more than she was presently earning. Despite her sons protestations that he ought to go working, and earn money for the family, Sita would not hear of it, and insisted he sit the entrance exams. He was successful in his entrance exams. However reality hit home for Sita and her family, as it became clear that she would not be able to afford the fees. Undaunted, she went to speak to the president of the college, and persuaded him to waive the fees, so her son would be able to go to college, and to not be forced to live a hand to mouth existence. She and her son had succeeded against all the odds.

The above story was not to justify the discrimination, both class based and gender based, which she suffers, far from it. However, I could not help but find this woman hugely inspirational in a whole variety of ways. She was wiling to endure almost torturous work, and think nothing of it, for the people she held dear, and was utterly selfless, thinking only of her children, and their interests. She disregarded whatever scornful looks, and insults she had to endure as a woman doing a 'man’s' job, because she wanted something better for her children.

What struck me about this, is that while we highlight heroes of ours, and people who are recognised by history as having played an essential role in their political struggle, whatever that may be, or indeed in their personal struggle, as is the case with Sita, that’s not the be all and end all.
We recognise, and commemorate these people, and rightly so, but quite often it’s the ordinary woman on the street, who gets mentioned in no history book, who’s sacrifice is most impressive and extraordinary. These are my heroes. And indeed it is the women who are far more likely to be written out of the history books. The likes of which can be found in some of the below articles. The likes of Sita.
Or closer to home, the likes of Mary Manning. Mary Manning was an ordinary 21 year old working class woman working in Dunnes in the 1980’s, who became the first worker to refuse to handle South African fruit in protest at the apartheid regime. For this she suffered abuse, harassment and ridicule.

A plaque in Johannesburg dedicated to Mary Manning

But an ordinary woman, the same age as many of us, was able to send a message to the world through this small action, and yet an action that required extraordinary bravery.

The point I’m trying to make is that there is no difference between extraordinary women, and ordinary women, except circumstances.

Put to the pin of their collars, your mothers, your sisters, your aunts your grandmothers, and you yourselves will react in the same way, and find the strength that Sita finds as she gets up every day to do what she can for her sons, and that Mary Manning found to take a stand against apartheid, from behind a till in Dublin.

Within every ordinary woman is an extraordinary woman willing to what’s necessary, and what’s right.

New Anthem or New Team?

Fra Cochrane
Padraig Pearse Ógra Shinn Féin
South Down

Recent revelations in the media that the IFA have been considering a new anthem for ‘Norn Iron’ home games has been dismissed by the unionist community, Ian Óg even described it as "something that we should never concede".

But this has been welcomed by others.

A welcome gesture, but pointless and is definitely not the answer.

Is a new anthem going to make ‘our wee country’ a team welcoming to nationalists? I don't think so.

I have heard personal accounts of nationalists taking the risk of going to games at Windsor Park, only to be surrounded by jeers from home fans shouting "You fenian nigger", at the likes of Thierry Henry.

A new anthem will not correct this attitude.

Division breeds hostility, and division is the only thing we will gain by having two ‘national’ football teams in Ireland.

With top class players from the north using the IFA's programmes and facilities only to leave and play for the Irish national team, surely now is the time for the IFA and FAI to realize that the only answer is an all Ireland team.

We only have to look at the Irish rugby team to see the benefits that this can have.

Let’s face it, as the fans say, they aren't Brazil they're Norn Iron, and this also applies to the Irish national team. They aren't exactly world class teams.

I have no doubt that together, with All Ireland co-operation for things like funding projects and youth development, Ireland would have a far stronger soccer team.
The IFA have made efforts to make soccer in the North more inclusive, and fair play to them for that.
But Nationalists can never accept the Northern football team simply because it is not a country.

No doubt Nelson McCausland, the minister of one culture, will try to block this, but young people with a strong Irish identity have a role to play in highlighting this issue, in pushing for a new All Ireland team and in promoting a united Ireland whether it be in sports, politics or geographically.

In terms of the anthem that’s played when we get there, well that’s a job for Liam Lappin...

Women to the Forefront of Struggle

Laura Gildernew
Ógra Shinn Féin
South Tyrone

When asked to write an article for International Women’s Day, I knew there were a plethora of inspiring female figures from our own struggle and other struggles around the world whose dedication and bravery would be an inspiration to anyone; however, I have decided to write about one of the most inspirational acts of defiance I have ever come across.

This event was the breaking of the Falls Road curfew, or “the rape of the Lower Falls.”

Women from Falls Road came out on the 5th July to break the curfew.

The British Army had placed this curfew on the Falls on the 3rd of July, it was an blatant act of oppression against the people of that area and during it five civilians were killed by the British Army and 300 republicans were arrested.

The women of the community rose up against this on their “bread march” to make a stand for their community and the welfare of their families. As the women marched down the Falls Road and pushed the barricades out of their paths, they sang “we shall not be moved” while the British army stood and watched, open mouthed and stunned at their bravery and open rebellion.

The women marched as far as the shops and back again, returning with loaves of bread and pints of milk. It must have been an amazing sight!
Minutes after the women defiantly marched through the Falls, an Army helicopter droned overhead and announced that the curfew was being lifted.
One of the women, 61 year old Dolly Monaghan, said, “They couldn’t mow us down, and they couldn’t clap us all in jail, there wouldn’t be enough room”
The women of the Falls Road made a stand in 1972, just as republican women have always done, including Kathleen Clarke and the women of Cumman Na mBan in 1916, Dolly Monaghan in 1972, Martina Anderson and Rita O’Hare in 2010, not to mention the thousands of women activists organised in Sinn Fein and Ógra throughout this island.
Our struggle will never be short of inspirational women.

Ritchie to face challenge for SDLP Westminster Nomination

Picture - 'Alan in Belfast' Blog

Be Honest Lads...

This weeks edition of the Co. Down Mourne Observer revealed that Margaret Ritchie, the newly elected captain of the Titanic sorry, SDLP will most likely face a nomination battle to become the SDLP’s candidate for the up and coming Westminster election.

An America born member of the party retired Rev. Dr. Gordon Graham is signalled his intention to contest for the seat so the SDLP can look at what he terms ‘’hard issues’’ what ever that means. The good Doctor also revealed an interesting insight into the internal workings of the retirement party by stating that: ‘’ I think Margaret Ritchie would not be satisfied if she stood in a convention where potential candidates or opponents were excluded on technicalities.’’

Something tells me that the stoops may be trying to avoid any sort of nomination contest. And who could blame them? Maggie hasn’t even been elected for a month as party leader and she is been challenged for the Westminster nomination.

The SDLP will no doubt try and play this down and cite this as an example of the stoops democratic principles, but no one, anywhere can deny that this isn’t highly embarrassing for the SDLP.

Can you imagine the media field day and wall to wall coverage if something like this happened in Sinn Féin?

I have no doubt that Margaret Ritchie will win the nomination and will do so comfortable but a challenge of any sort against a newly elected leader, is surely an indication of bitter internal division.

Be Honest Lads had also been told in the run up to the SDLP election ‘battle’ that the few remaining SDLP branches in the far south of south Down were intending to support Allister Mc Donnell rather then their fellow county woman Ritchie.

What this indicates is that the internal division that has blighted the Stoops look set to continue. Hardly inspiring stuff...

But then again it is the SDLP.

The Brave Anne Devlin

Barra Mac An Fhaili

When first asked to collate my views on a republican icon for international womens day I found it hard to single out one woman.

Even if you look back at the past 40 years there are so many women to choose from. If you take key significant events there are women who were to the fore in each case. Even collectively as opposed to individually women have been to the fore.

If you look at individual women people stand out such as Sheena Campbell ,Mairead Farrell, the volunteers of Cumann na mBan and going back to the early 19th century , Tyrone native, Alice Milligan, who I have a great grá for.

But someone who I have been fascinated by was Ann Devlin from county Wicklow.

Anne Devlin, born in 1870 came from a family steeped in republican tradition. Some members of the family circle had taken part in the United Irishmen rebellion of 1798. Opinion is still divided on whether her father was one of these. What is known however is that her father and cousins were imprisoned following the failed Rebellion.

Whilst History would describe Anne Devlin as the ‘housekeeper for Robert Emmet’ she was much more. Anne herself had been a protagonist in the events of 1803. She helped Emmet organise towards the rebellion and ferry messages of communication across Dublin. Although the 1803 rebellion proved unsuccessful in driving the British from Ireland it ensured that further generations would attempt the same fate. The Young Irelanders would attempt the same mission some four and a half decades later.

Anne suffered terribly for her unshakable believe that Ireland should be free. Her devotion to the rebels and to Robert Emmet in particular was unbreakable.

Following the failed uprising of 1803 the British forces came searching for Emmet and searched his house that he had tenanted in Dublin. The only one present in the house was Anne Devlin. The soldiers demanded to know where ‘Mr Ellis’ was. ‘Mr Ellis’ was the alias used whilst tenanting throughout Dublin. Anne replied “I have nothing to tell; I’ll tell nothing.” On hearing this the soldiers stabbed her with bayonets and told her if she still refused to tell the whereabouts of ‘Mr Ellis’ she would be hung. Again Anne resisted and with a noose around her neck she was hung, the blood still running down her half naked body.

She lost unconsciousness and after a period of time was cut down in the mistaken belief that she was dead, but Anne was not dead. Following this incident Anne moved in with her cousin in Dublin where she stayed before being arrested just days later.

She was subsequently sent to Kilmainham jail and was offered huge sums of money and other incentives to reveal the whereabouts of Emmet but Anne continued to keep her silence. Her comrade, by now had become the subject of nationwide search. Unbeknownst to Anne Emmet had been captured and was held by the British.

Her family were also arrested and imprisoned in Kilmainham, including her father and mother as well as other siblings. In all 20 members of her extended family were imprisoned. Her nine year old brother died whilst in prison due to sheer neglect by the British jailers. Anne herself spent 3 years in prison, spending the majority of the time in solitary confinement.

Whilst imprisoned and during a brief exchange Emmet told Anne to tell the British what she knew as his fate was sealed. He argued that whatever information she gave them would be useless, however Anne, always true to her word never told the British of any of her activities or those of Emmet.

Days later Robert Emmet was hung, drawn and quartered, convicted of high treason.

It is claimed that Anne Devlin whilst on the way to Dublin Castle for questioning was brought to St. Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street. Anne was then apparently forced to see Robert Emmet's place of execution. It is further claimed that the blood of her close comrade Emmet lay scattered on the ground with animals lapping up the blood.

Anne Devlin was released, undefeated, from prison in 1806. However the deterioration of her health whilst imprisoned and the horrors she had endured was evident.

In the years following her release Anne Devlin married a man named Campbell, who died suddenly in 1845. In the following years Anne was cared for by her son. Anne died of poverty, neglect and destitution in Dublin in 1851. She was 70 years old.

As is the case with so many of Irelands Patriot dead their stories aren’t recorded and sometimes their existence is lost or forgotten. Anne Devlin was a woman who had courage, determination and endured terrible suffering. Yet all the time she remained a committed, idealistic woman, dedicated to playing her part for the freedom of Ireland. She had an unconquerable, courageous spirit.

There are many instances of people like Anne Devlin throughout Ireland, who have played their part in the struggle and as a result were tortured, suffered hardship, and torment. Many of these stories remain untold and in countless cases are lost to the passage of time.

As we celebrate international women’s day let us remember Anne Devlin and indeed all women who have played and continue to play a leading role in the struggle for the freedom of our country.

When Ireland takes her place amongst the nations of the world Anne Devlins role in the struggle can be fully honoured.

I gcuimhne ar Anne Devlin