Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ógra organise Youth Canvass on 30th Anniversary of Bobby Sand’s Election

Ógra Shinn Féin have organised a youth canvass in Enniskillen for Saturday 9th April from 1 – 5pm on the 30th Anniversary of Bobby Sand’s Election as MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone.

The youth wing of Sinn Féin will be undertaking the canvass to assist in getting the youth vote out to win a historic three Assembly Seats for the party and increase their number of Councillors.

Enniskillen Sinn Féin Candidate Ciarán May said,

“This year is a very significant year for republicans, as it marks the 30th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike. Fermanagh South Tyrone is synonymous with that defining moment in Irish history as it was the area that demonstrated to the world the support that existed for the republican prisoners and it was a new departure for republicans into elections.”

“The youth canvass will be taking place on the 9th of April, 30 years to the day that Bobby Sands was elected as our MP; the elections on May 5th will fall on his death. For many reasons the Hunger Strikers provide endless inspiration and motivation to us to continue our momentum to a new and free Ireland, they put all our lives and struggle in perspective. The recent election of 14 Sinn Féin TDs in the southern elections, and the anticipated Sinn Féin success on May 5th has only been made possible by the sacrifice of the Hunger Strikers and our patriot dead. They are our motivation for bringing about necessary change and providing strong leadership for all communities.”

If you would like to help with the youth canvass contact Padraig on 07834592880.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Donegal Launch New Ógra Cumann

Ógra Shinn Féin continues to grow with yet another cumann established within Cuige Uladh. The North West Donegal cumann was officially launched on Saturday the 3rd of March at the Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh commemoration.

Caoimhín was killed along with two other nationalists by a loyalist attacker at Milltown Cemetery on the 16th March 1988. This atrocious attack happened while family and mourners attended the funeral of the Gibaraltar three when a loyalist gunman shot indiscriminately into the crowd.

Ógra played a leading role in the commemoration, at which they where commended by poll topping TD Pearce Doherty.

Speaking on the establishment of the new cumann, Donegal spokesperson Fintan Butler said:

“There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in Sinn Fein. Throughout the last number of weeks we have presented a clear, coherent and grounded alternative to the failings of the Fianna Fail/ Green government and because of this we were able to come away with 14 TDs in the general election. The high from this victory defiantly contributed to the formation of the cumann, with 10s of young people seeking to join Sinn Féin.

Ógra will play a key role in the Donegal area in the time ahead as Sinn Féin continues to be the only real opposition to the Fine Gail Labour collation”.

From the launch the cumann have already met to discuss key issues, plan a program of work and elect an officer board.

Is you are interested in joining Donegal North West Ogra Shinn Féin contact:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fermanagh Sinn Féin Youth Engagement; '1981 Hunger Strike - 30 Years On'

Two of Sinn Féin's youngest stars Pearse Doherty TD for Donegal South West, and Seanad Candidate Kathryn Reilly will be the main speakers at a Sinn Féin Youth Engagement in Donagh Hall on Saturday 2nd April at 2pm.

The public talk will focus on the 1981 Hunger Strike, and how events 30 years ago have shaped modern Ireland. There will also be a focus on issues of today, particularly around jobs, and education and there will be an opportunity for young people to raise any burning issues that are impacting on their lives.

Encouraging people to attend the youth engagement, Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Ciarán May said;

"We would encourage the maximum turnout to this event. Pearse and Kathryn are two of Sinn Féin's youngest and most gifted activists providing quality leadership and vision; they will deliver a deeply interesting talk and indeed provide answers for any burning issues you have. The talk will provide an interesting look at the Hunger Strike and also a focus on where we are today, with an opportunity for people to highlight important issues affecting them. It is particularly apt as Bobby Sands the first person to die on the 1981 Hunger Strike was elected MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone with a bigger mandate than the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher."

"The Hunger Strike was a defining moment in Irish history and a catalyst in the republican struggle, propelling republicans into the electoral arena, internationalising our struggle, and galvanising support for our vision. The Hunger Strikers were all young men; Patsy O'Hara was only 23 and the oldest Hunger Striker was Joe McDonnell only 29. It is important for young people today to learn and understand the circumstances and indeed the motivations which led to young people only 30 years ago willing to die on Hunger Strike. The youth engagement promises to be extremely interesting, educational and informative, an event not to be missed."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RIR Homecoming Divisive, Insensitive and Waste of Money - May

The recent announcement that there is to be an RIR Homecoming in Enniskillen on the 20th May has angered Ógra Shinn Féin.

Ciarán May spokesperson for the republican youth movement, who is also a Sinn Féin representative for Enniskillen has criticised the event as a 'coat trailing triumphalist parade that will be divisive, insensitive in the extreme and a waste of money.'

Mr May said,
"The proposed RIR homecoming is an absolute disgrace, and will do nothing but ferment division in Enniskillen. This coat trailing exercise and triumphalist parade will be divisive, insensitive in the extreme and a waste of money. Ógra Shinn Féin has actively and continues to oppose the bloody occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and for these people to be given heroes return from Afghanistan following their oil driven murderous exploits beggar's belief. Not to mention the RIR/UDR's record in Ireland and Fermanagh, were they were up to their necks in collusion and state murder."

"At a time of economic recession, it is also appalling that money would be wasted on such an offensive thing. Ógra Shinn Féin is opposed to this event and calls for it to be cancelled."

Monday, March 14, 2011

The 1981 Hunger Strike Key Focus of ‘The People’s Forum’

Tyrone Republican Ex Prisoner group Éirí na Gréine are hosting a forum including public talks and discussion looking at the 1981 Hunger Strike.

As well as recalling events from 30 years ago, ‘The People’s Forum’ will also look at the legacy of the Hunger Strike, the future and the particular role that young people will play in shaping a new society. The event is organised through the Éirí na Gréine ‘Looking Back to Move Forward’ project.

The event will take place in Quinn’s Corner, County Tyrone on Saturday 26th March from 12pm – 4pm.

The first part of the event is titled ‘Looking Back - The 1981 Hunger Strike’ led by Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane who was OC of the IRA prisoners in Long Kesh during the Hunger Strike, and Jackie McMullan who endured 48 days on the 1981 Hunger Strike.

In the concluding session, people will look at the legacy of the Hunger Strike with the theme of ‘Moving Forward – 30 Years On, A Risen People’ in a discussion led by Kathryn Reilly, who was one of the youngest candidates in the recent election in the 26 counties and recently elected TD for Meath West, Peadar Toibín.

Lunch will be provided between both talks.

Speaking ahead of the event Éirí na Gréine Project manager Barry McNally said:

“The People’s Forum will aim to build understanding and provide an insight into the 1981 Hunger Strike from key people who were involved in this pivotal moment in recent Irish history. It will also explore the significant impact and legacy of the Hunger Strike, and how it has helped shape the society we live in today, and the type of Ireland we aspire to in the future. This event is open to everyone, and will provide interest to many different people including former political prisoners, students studying this as part of their curriculum, to people who have an interest in Irish History, and those who lived through and took part in solidarity events in 1981.”

As spaces are limited you must confirm your attendance by contacting Barry McNally on 07542937545,

Young Republican delegation attend Corsica event

A delegation of Ógra Shinn Féin activists attended the 7th Scontri internaziunali in Corsica last week. The week long event comprised of discussions on
the role of music and liberation struggles and tourism, as well as cultural events and tours. Ógra Shinn Féin has a record of participating in this annual event organised by the youth movement Ghjuventú Indipendentista. The event was held in Université de Corse Pascal Paoli in the town of Corte.

Scontri Internaziunali is attended every year by young representatives from all over the world, including Catalonia, Euskal Herria, Kanaky (South Pacific), Ireland and Sardinia. This year, SEGI from the Basque country had no representatives present due to increasing repression inflicted by the Spanish state. Nationalist sentiment in Corsica is high and great emphasis is placed on the native language and culture which was discussed throughout the week. In 2003, a referendum was held to decide on acquiring more autonomy from France and greater recognition for the language. The result was close, with the decision being 54,990 voting in favour compared to 57,180 votes against.

Ógra Shinn Féin International Officer said;

"As with the previous events in Corsica, we were more than happy to attend this one in the University in Corte. The relationship between Corsican nationalists and Irish republicans is a strong and historical one. This year, we discussed tourism among other things and our delegation learned from others and vice versa with significant contributions were made by our delegation regarding the successful Irish tourism industry. These international events are hugely beneficial to the participants and make for important exchange of ideas and support. We believe that these events help solidify the links between movements across the world who strive for freedom and empowerment of the people. Corsica is a small country with a very rich culture. Over the week of discussion, native music groups such as Diana di l'Alba and L'Arcusgi demonstrated Paghjella - the singing tradition exclusive to Corsica and safeguarded by UNESCO. Overall, the week was a success and delegates and visitors were pleased to see an Irish republican delegation in Corsica. We express sincere gratitude and appreciation to our Comrades there who invited us. We will continue to build links with the Corsican youth movement and express solidarity with their cause."

Friday, March 11, 2011

UCC Commemoration - 21 March 7pm

The Annual Republican Commemoration in UCC is taking place Monday the 21st of March.
It begins at 7pm in front of the Student Centre, and the main Speaker is newly elected Cork North Central TD, Jonathan O'Brien. The macCurtain/MacSwiney RFB will be in attendance.

This years commemoration is of particular note, due to the historic breakthrough in electing 2 Cork TDs in the most recent general election, but also as it is the 90th anniversary of the Dripsey Ambush, which is where a number of those buried were captured and subsequently executed.

Ógra Shinn Féin An Lorgain react to Vance comments

ÓSF An Lorgain have denounced the comments made by the Upper Bann TUV assembly candidate David Vance regarding the raid by the Israeli military on an aid flotilla trying to bring aid to Gaza in May of 2010. Mr Vance, in a post on twitter (, commented that he hoped Israel would ‘deal with’ the Irish boat the MV Rachel Corrie with ‘no messing about this time’.

He also claimed the boat was ‘full of Hamas enablers’.

Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Lee Casey stated;
‘The comments made by David Vance and other local Israeli apologists cannot hide the fact that the Israeli Military boarded a ship, in international waters, carrying humanitarian aid and killed nine voluntary aid workers. These comments are made all the more offensive when you consider the objective of the aid flotilla; to deliver basic aid supplies to the people of Gaza who are being kept in deliberate abject poverty and are routinely oppressed by the state of Israel. Would Mr Vance advocate military intervention for aid flotillas bringing aid to the people of Haiti or Darfur?’

He continued;
‘Mr Vance is also inaccurate in claiming that the boat was ‘full of Hamas enablers’ as it included on board a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a former Assistant Secretary General of the UN’
‘Mr Vance should re-think his inaccurate and offensive views but then again this is to be expected from a member of a party which revels in and celebrates military oppression, be it at the hands of the British or Israeli forces.’

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Danny Morrison to launch Hunger Strike commemorative Exhibition in Omagh

The former Assembly member for Mid Ulster and current secretary of the Bobby Sands Trust, Danny Morrison, will officially launch the National Hunger Strike exhibition in the Strule Arts Centre on Monday evening at 8pm.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Morrison said "The Hunger Strikes of 1980 and 1981 were defining moments in recent Irish history. As one of the negotiators at that time, I was on friendly terms with most of the men on the strike.

"As such, I find it even difficult now to talk about those 10 men and their families and what they came through. Although 30 years on, it still seems like yesterday, it's still powerful, and in terms of Republicanism, it is up there along with 1916 for its effects and inspiration.

Mr Morrison continued,

"I was absolutely delighted to receive the invite to speak at the launch of the exhibition and facilitate a discussion on the hunger strike.

"The exhibition consists of interpretative panels and personal artefacts which tells the story of the prison struggle. It is very personal and moving, and I encourage everyone, especially the younger generation to come along and learn about this period of our history.

Mr Morrison concluded,

"I have a long association with this part of Tyrone having represented the area as an Assembly member from 1982 until 1986. During this time, I made many good friends in the county and am looking forward to renewing old acquaintances.

The exhibition will be open to the public from the launch on Monday until Friday 18th March, between 10am and 8pm, except for St Patricks Day, when it closes at 5pm. The launch and exhibition has been organised by Republican ex-Prisoners support group, Éirí Na Gréine, as part of their 'Looking Back To Move Forward' project.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Keep up to date with European Parliament

Bairbre de Brun MEP
Sinn Féin

Dear friends

Many young people would like to follow more closely what is going on in the European Parliament through the internet, but don't know where to access the information. A lot of information is available on the European Parliament homepage

For those who want to go further and access live or recorded broadcasts of plenary sittings, committee meetings, press conference and other events, here are a few tips.

A European Parliament multimedia online library allows you to be up to date with the current EU debates and give you a greater insight into what happens in Brussels and Strasbourg. You can either watch a session live or go to video on demand to get a recorded broadcast.

A detailed explanation is given on the following link, giving instruction and description on how to access the streamed sessions; This week, you could, for example, go online and see former Irish President Mary Robinson address the special event for International Women's Day in the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) or watch a debate on GMOs in the Environment Committee

I hope this will help people get a bit more up to date information,

Also, my office in Brussels is always available to answer your questions, you can contact me there at

You can also follow the work I do through my facebook page;!/pages/Bairbre-de-Br%C3%BAnMEP/142358829175

Derry Ógra hold 12 hour fast to mark 30th Anniversary - start of 1981 Hunger Strike

Young republicans in Derry marked the 30th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike by constructing a mock H Block cell and holding a fast.

Spokesperson Adrian Óg Kelly said,

"Ógra Shinn Féin decided to mark this significant date by holding a twelve hour fast on Tuesday 1st March to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the start of the 1981 Hunger Strike. We also constructed a mock H-Block cell on the green space at Free Derry Wall. Local people were very supportive, with many people coming over to chat to us, and many more cars beeping their horns in support as they passed.”

“While 30 years have now passed since this pivotal period in the course of Irish history, the pride with which the H-Block Martyrs are remembered is ever enduring. I would urge republicans from throughout Derry to reflect on this sense of pride by making a special effort to attend the events taking place over the coming months. The fast took place from 7am until 7pm.”

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Students in Belfast Mark the Beginning of the 1981 Hunger Strike

To mark the beginning of the commemorative events surrounding the 30th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, Queens and Jordanstown Sinn Féin gathered with students from both universities for a candle lit vigil outside Queens University. The event was held on the 1st of March which marks the very beginning of the hunger strike. It was on that date 30 years ago that IRA Volunteer Bobby Sands began his strike.

Spokesperson for Sinn Féin in the colleges Megan Fearon commended the attendance at the vigil and went on to say,

“30 years ago, 10 men died as a result of their unselfish sacrifice in the fight for Irish freedom. The events of 1981 were a watershed moment for the Republican struggle and the sacrifices made by these volunteers remain with us to this day. Today, the memory of the hunger strikers lives on and we are continuing to work for the United Ireland that they were so determined to achieve. It is of great importance that 30 years on, people the length and breadth of Ireland continue to remember these brave Irish patriots with pride, and that oppressed people throughout the world continue to be inspired by their courage and determination. I was not alive during the Hunger Strikes and neither were any of the young people who took part in this vigil tonight. However the events of 1981 and the sacrifice that people like Bobby Sands made for Ireland is an inspiration to me and every person who attended this event.”

“Not only did the men and women of 1981 build a mass political movement that has changed the foundations of Irish politics completely, they also left a legacy to the generations of Irish people who have followed them. A legacy of struggle against a foreign oppressor and a responsibility to finish the job that they started.

I call on my fellow students around the country to get involved in similar events which are planned for the term ahead to commemorate this hugely significant anniversary”.


Bobby Sands (66 days), Francis Hughes (59 days), Patsy O’Hara (61 days), Raymond McCreesh (61 days), Joe McDonnell (61 days), Martin Hurson (46 days), Kevin Lynch (71 days), Kieron Doherty (73 days), Tom McElwee (62 days), Michael Devine (60 days).

Keep up to date with all upcoming events organised by Sinn Féin in the colleges:¬if_t=feed_comment_reply#!/profile.php?id=100000439897256¬if_t=feed_comment_reply#!/UUJ.SF

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin comment on Fine Gael/Labour coalition

Speaking after today’s announcements by the Labour Party and Fine Gael that they will enter a coalition government together against the wishes of Labour Youth, Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin Spokesperson, Saoirse Ní Chonaráin said:

“When Labour Youth first stated that the Labour Party should not join Fine Gael in a coalition Government supporting the IMF deal, Ógra Shinn Féin was very supportive and hoped the Labour Party would do the honourable thing and not join a right wing government.

“The Labour Party would be better off joining the opposition to this type of government rather than being responsible for further cuts and tax increases to pay off the bondholders.

We see see no difference between a Fianna Fáil-led government and a Fine Gael-led Government.

“We now expect more disastrous policies, from this incoming Government that will only go to serve a wealthy elite, while targeting the ordinary people for further financial hardship.

“Now that the Labour Party have fully embraced the right, I would ask those still on the left in Labour Youth to join Ógra Shinn Féin and those in Labour to join Sinn Féin to help build opposition to the Consensus for Cuts and the shoddy IMF/EU deal.”

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tyrone Republicans remember Cappagh shooting victims

On Wednesday evening, several hundred Tyrone Republicans assembled on Cappagh Main Street to commemorate the lives of John Quinn, Malcolm Nugent, Dwayne O Donnell and Tommy Armstrong.

The 4 men were killed in a UVF gun attack at Boyles bar, Cappagh on 3rd March 1991. John, Dwayne and Malcolm were members of the IRA and for the past 20 years the finger of suspicion has pointed towards collusion between Loyalists and Crown forces, culminating in the attack.

During the torchlight ceremony, which was chaired by local Republican, Paul Kelly, a wreath was laid on behalf of the Republican Movement by a friend and comrade of the men, Brendan Kane.

There were a lot of young people present and Ógra Shinn Féin provided the Colour Party at the Republican Monument in Cappagh.

In his opening remarks, Paul said 'Over the past 30 years, the community of Cappagh and Galbally has suffered greatly at the hands of Crown forces acting officially, and in collusion with Loyalist murder gangs.

'Although it has been 20 years since the killing of Dwayne, John, Malcolm and Tommy for most of us, it seems like just yesterday. It is extremely important for their families to know that we will never forget them and that they are forever in our thoughts and prayers.

The main speaker for the evening was MP for the constituency, Martin Mc Guinness.
During his address, the Deputy First Minister called for an independent, international truth commission to investigate the circumstances of the Cappagh shooting, especially given the strong belief of state collusion in the murders. He said that 'The shootings at Cappagh 20 years ago are a stark reminder of the brutal nature of Britain's role in Ireland.

Mr Mc Guinness continued 'I am proud to be an Irish Republican and to be a member of Sinn Féin, which is the only political party committed to pursuing the objective of Irish re unification.

'As a politician, I also have a duty to ensure that another generation of young people do not find themselves imprisoned or going to an early grave in pursuit of this objective.

'I want to re-emphasise to the families of those who have died that they have our full and never ending support and solidarity'.

The torchlight ceremony concluded with the playing of Amhran Na bhFiann on the fiddle by Coalisland Ógra activist Álanna Campbell, while proceedings continued in Galbally Community Centre with a talk from JJ Magee from Relatives for Justice and Francie Molloy MLA on the lives of the 4 men and the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The high stakes in the battle for union rights in Wisconsin

By Michael Burke
(from Socialist Economic Blog)

There are reports that protestors in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo are among the worldwide donors of pizza to the protestors in Wisconsin! The protestors have occupied the Capitol Building in an attempt to block passage of a union-busting bill adopted by the State’s Republicans. While the world has been enthralled by the Arab revolution, its militants have provided a practical demonstration of international solidarity.

The struggles in Egypt and Wisconsin are evidently not on the same plane, but they are linked. The global economic and financial crisis which began in 2007 has impacted all countries. In the colonial and semi-colonial world, the daily struggle for food has grown over into a wider uprising against unemployment, economic degradation, autocracy and national humiliation. In the ‘Western’ economies, the defensive struggle against the ‘austerity’ drive includes cuts in public spending, unemployment and falling standards of living. But in both cases it is in response to a determined effort to ensure that is workers and the poor who pay for the crisis- and that capital will restore its fortunes at the expense of labour.


In Wisconsin Governor Walker is leading an assault on collective-bargaining by all State employees, with no negotiating rights on benefits and pay linked to the consumer price index- challengeable only by State-wide referendum. This is a classic tactic of pitting public workers against those in the private sector, who are themselves experiencing a sharp fall in living standards and watching their publicly-provided services being cut for everything from teachers, to firefighters, police and sanitation.

The US media had overwhelmingly supported the Governor, with the Wall Street Journal recycling the right-wing talkshow epithet ‘Mad Town’ to describe the protests against Walker’s ‘very modest proposals’. Some the media hostility has retreated, though, in the face of opinion polls showing 61% US public opinion approval for the protestors, who have at times numbered just under 100,000, with only the top income earners supporting the measures . Instead, the media has attempted to shift the terrain by portraying the local unions, who have little recent history of militancy, as ‘thwarting the democratic will’ by opposing the recently-elected State legislature. This is an entirely specious argument as it overlooks the small matter than no elected official stood on anything like a union-busting programme in the election.

The unions have already agreed pay and benefit cuts as well as job losses. The further assault by the governor has a different agenda, that of union-busting, and the consequent drop in living standards which would follow from it is what is at stake.

The type of wage reductions that are envisaged have already been achieved in the US private sector. Furthermore during the last significant economic crisis of US capitalism, Ronald Reagan broke the air-traffic controllers’ union PATCO (who had supported his election!). Infamously, the union leaders were arrested, jailed and fined, having been led manacled and bound for the TV news. The union was fined and then broken by decertification. A clear massage was sent to all other unions.

As a result of such methods, In the US private sector union density declined from 30% in the 1960s to 7% currently. Union militancy plummeted. Real weekly earnings fell from $300 in 1979 to $260 in 1996, despite rising economic activity and productivity. Former Federal Reserve Governor Alan Greenspan called the breaking of PATCO Reagan’s ‘most important domestic initiative’. 1

But the US public sector has remained much more highly unionised - although at a level that is low by international standards. Just under 40% of US public sector workers are unionised. In some states, such as California and New York, that proportion is much higher. The aim is to break US unions in the public sector in order to drive down wages generally across the whole economy. In a familiar story, all this has nothing to do with reducing the US budget deficit- Wisconsin turned down Federal funds for investment in transport and broadband which would have generated new revenues. Already States such as Ohio and Indiana have signalled they will follow suit, and in a complete distortion of reality, a much larger group of Republican-led states describing themselves as the ‘right to work’ states, intend to introduce legislation even further curbing union power.

Not Just Wisconsin

Of course all this has implications not just for the US but in all the Western economies which take their policy lead from it - most especially Britain. While the Financial Times states it regrets the false claim that the union-busting is about saving money, it supports the offensive, likening the US assault on the the public sector unions to Murdoch’s attack on the print unions in the UK and expressing the hope that unions have had their day.

Before Murcoch’s assault on the print unions the Thatcher government’s introduction of severe anti-trade union laws, combined with the defeat of the miners’ strike of 1984-85, devastated trade union membership for a generation. As Chart 1 below shows, labour’s share of national income fell sharply as a result. The Tory-led government in Britain, led by the Tory Mayor of London, have already discussed curbing unions in the public sector and banning strikes. They, and all the reactionary forces in the world such as the tottering Arab regimes, which have faced sporadic strike protests to underpin the uprisings, would only take encouragement if the Wisconsin Governor is successful. Wisconsin may not at present be receiving the same attention as the truly historic events in the Arab countries but it deserves close attention by those who stand for progress left and total support by those who want to defend living standards everywhere.

Chart 1


1. Separately, Greenspan has argued that Reagan’s great global achievement was the overthrow of the Soviet Union, and the US boom that followed was a result of the capital outflow then from the whole of Eastern Europe. However, since that led to the US bubble, he has since modified this to suggest that the fall of the Berlin Wall led to the bubble

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Post Election Party in Dublin

Fergal O’Donnell Speech at ‘Murder Triangle’ Talk in Pomeroy

Fergal O’Donnell
(Brother of Vol. Dwayne O’Donnell)

I would like to thank the Dwayne O’Donnell Ógra Shinn Féin cumann for organising tonight’s event to coincide with the 20th anniversary of those murdered at Boyle’s Bar, Cappagh, twenty years ago.

I also want to thank Seana and Marie Claire for approaching my family and asking us to endorse the naming of the new local Ógra cumann after Dwayne.

It is fitting in different ways that Dwayne is associated with this new youth wing of Sinn Fein – he himself was one of the youngest volunteers to be killed, at only 17 years of age.

Our mum is also a Pomeroy woman and Granny still resides in Shanroy so the connection with this area is a strong one. It will also ensure that the memory of Dwayne will be honoured and remembered for years to come and for that I am delighted.

As a youth worker by profession, I also firmly believe in the potential of young people and such initiatives are extremely important if we are to promote republican values amongst young people and to ensure that we have highly skilled and articulate people within the republican movement.

Despite Dwayne’s being on 17, he did in many ways belie his young age. He was extremely mature, had a great presence, was very focused and ambitious, and had a fierce determination to succeed in life. Like his father he was a gifted engineer and was undoubtedly destined for great things. He was also a fantastic older brother to us all, and was always obliging in supporting us in whatever way he possibly could.

When we talk now of making big decisions at a young age we think of making choices around education, about travels, employment and relationships perhaps. But Dwayne’s choice to join Óglaigh na hÉireann surpassed all these, by what are most standards, important decisions – he was willing to dramatically change his life, he was willing to put his own safety in jeopardy, knowing full well of what consequences he might face.

And it is important to try and understand why such young men like Dwayne, and many others including his comrades Malcolm and John who died alongside him, decided to take such a stance.

You only have to look at the situation in which they found themselves – they grew up at a time where their own community was being treated unfairly and unjustly – being treated as second class citizens in terms of housing, employment and electoral practices.

The average day consisted of harassment, insults, interrogation and abuse by the British State forces. They had seen other young men and women, many of whom where friends and neighbours, being imprisoned or killed by the out workings of an unlawful and sectarian Government.

At only 14 Dwayne was arrested and charged for taking number plates of RUC officer’s cars as the left Dungannon barracks. Whilst perhaps not fully understanding the consequences of what he was doing, it did demonstrate Dwayne’s intention to try and redress the situation his community faced.

At a personal level Dwayne’s loss for the family was a tragedy. Mum and Dad lost their eldest son and we had lost a loving brother. There was now to be a void in our family that could never and will never be filled. We have nonetheless nothing but respect and pride for what Dwayne lived for and what he died for.

We also have the additional burden of knowing that British State forces colluded with loyalist gangs to facilitate the murder in Cappagh and I know Francie will explore this a little further later. To be honest when you look at the history of British occupation in the North of Ireland it is clear that this was just one of so many different murders in which loyalist gangs where provided with the local knowledge, weaponry and accessibility to republican areas like Cappagh.

Loyalist gangs like the UVF would not have dared to enter a community such as Cappagh without such assistance. It is ironic but not surprising that no one was ever charged with the murders.

Ten years later whilst on a night out in Belfast as a student I was caught short whilst attending a bar in the city centre. I was reprimanded by a police officer, had my name and address taken and had probably been in line for either a fine or perhaps just a telling off. But one officer who had obviously verified my details with HQ, approached me and made a comment “your boy got it with Baldy John”.

This was obviously to antagonise the situation (which it did) but also showed that ten years from losing Dwayne, and living in this new era, that there was still very sectarian attitudes within security forces.

Much has changed however in the republican movement since Dwayne died in 1991. Only a number of years after losing Dwayne a different approach was deployed by republicans which was unanimously supported at that time. It was to forge ahead on a political agenda and try bringing some stability to this area. It was a significant change in tactics and one which was to challenge us all.

It required a building of relationships with those that had suppressed our community for so long. It was to radically change the political landscape, and we have seen this manifest itself over the last number of years. In these negotiations we have seen Sinn Féin grow to become the biggest nationalist party and perhaps soon to be the biggest party in Government.

Negotiation, by its very definition, means we have to compromise on certain disputed areas. It is my opinion however that we have made significant progress, particularly in areas of equality, in protecting the most disadvantaged, in demilitarisation, and in increased representation – on an all Ireland level – as the count in the south is showing today.

One of the greatest steps perhaps has now been the decision to engage in local policing structures and in light on what we are here for tonight, it can be understandably difficult to accept such a move.

I do not feel however that this is a concession, and rather a step towards ensuring that we place ourselves in positions whereby we can scrutinise and hold to account the actions of the police service going forward, the level of accountability upon policing has never been greater.

Abstaining from such structures will not serve to root out the sectarian attitudes which have been prevalent in the past. By not being involved we perhaps will only serve to maintain the status quo of a largely sectarian police force which has not served us well in the past. It does not also prevent us from continuing to seek the truth about collusion and in my opinion strengthens the opportunity for doing so.

I understand why and for what reasons people find the current situation challenging – I understand this as much as anyone. Which I firmly believe that we need to continue celebrating and reflecting upon those that have been at the forefront of this struggle – like we are doing tonight – we also need to ensure that more families do not endure the pain and suffering that we ourselves have experienced.

We need an alternative which I believe we now have and I am confident in our leadership that true republican values will be upheld as we press ahead.

Successful Talk on ‘Murder Triangle’ held in Pomeroy

Dwayne O’Donnell Ógra Shinn Féin held a very successful talk on Saturday night (26th Feb) in Murphy’s Bar, Pomeroy to mark the 20th Anniversary of the shootings in Cappagh on 3rd March 1991. Four men were killed that night by a UVF death squad, Vol. Dwayne O’Donnell, Vol. Malcolm Nugent, Vol. John Quinn, and Thomas Armstrong.

It was the first of two events being held to remember the men, with a wreath laying ceremony and candlelit vigil being held on Wednesday 2nd March @ 8.30pm at the Republican Monument, Main Street Cappagh. The Main speakers on the night will be Francie Molloy MLA and JJ Magee from Relatives For Justice.

The theme of the talk was ‘The Murder Triangle’, the area around Mid Ulster where Unionist paramilitaries worked in Collusion with the British State and were given impunity to go on sectarian murder sprees.

The talk was delivered by Francie Molloy MLA, and Fergal O’Donnell, brother of Vol. Dwayne O’Donnell.

Fergal spoke from a personal perspective, of his family’s experience of losing their loved one and how Dwayne’s death has left a huge void in their lives, yet the pride in which they and the entire community hold him allows them to continue on resolutely. He spoke of the struggle today and how we are doing the right thing in campaigning to create an accountable and civic policing service, and creating a peaceful, just and free society so that other families do not have to suffer what his went through.

Francie Molloy MLA spoke of the Murder Triangle, and the huge level of attacks carried out by Unionist death squads in the area around Mid Ulster, and how often you would wake up in the morning, turn on the radio expecting somebody to be killed in what became known as the Murder Triangle. He also spoke about high levels of Collusion were senior Unionist politicians, RUC and UDR members were working hand in glove and actively directing the Unionist paramilitaries. Francie also spoke about the aftermath of the Boyle’s Bar massacre and the deep scar it left on the community, the loss of four such popular men. However he insisted that if the attack was designed to break the will of the people of Cappagh, it done the opposite and had a galvanising effect.

Speaking on the event, Dwayne O’Donnell Ógra Chairperson Seana Mallaghan said,

“We were honoured to have Fergal speak at the event, it was a very emotional and thought provoking speech and Francie was extremely educational, providing a depth of information and personal stories of the chilling acts of collusion carried out in the murder triangle. It is important that we continue to remember all those who were killed as a direct result of Britain’s policy of Collusion and keep the campaign going for truth and justice.”