Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pearse Doherty TD addresses Tyrone County Easter Commemoration in Carrickmore

A large crowd of Tyrone republicans descended on Carrickmore on Easter Sunday to mark the 95th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The County commemoration was the culmination of over 40 local graveside and wreath laying ceremonies throughout the O’Neill County.

Proceedings got under way with a re-enactment of the 1916 Easter Rising, choreographed by Gerry Cunningham and led by young republicans from Ógra Shinn Féin. The street theatre traced the key moments of the Rising with the Patrician Hall and its Pillars providing a very appropriate backdrop. The sound effects, and the authentic uniforms immersed the crowd in the action and the scene with the execution of the 7 signatories of the Proclamation was extremely emotive.

Following the re-enactment, the crowds assembled to start on the annual march around Carrickmore, and then to the Garden of Remembrance.

The march was led by a republican colour party which responded to commands in Irish.
There was a colourful display of Sinn Féin cumann banners at the march, with a large presence of young people in attendance with the Martin Hurson Memorial Band and the Coatbridge Republican Flute Band playing throughout.

When the march reached the Garden of Remembrance, Sinn Féin Commemoration Committee Chairperson Councillor Sean Begley chaired proceedings.

Pádraig Quinn from Derrytresk read aloud the 1916 Proclamation, and Kerry McColgan from Omagh read the Tyrone Brigade Roll of Honour. This was accompanied by a lament played on the fiddle by Álanna Campbell.

Marie Claire Devlin from Pomeroy delivered the Ógra Shinn Féin statement.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Republican Movement, the Old IRA, Sinn Féin, in memory of the Hunger Strikers, and by Ógra Shinn Féin.

The main speaker on the day was newly elected TD for Donegal South West, Pearse Doherty whose speech was followed by a very powerful and evocative rendition of Amhrán Na bhFiann sang by Niamh McElduff from Carrickmore.

Delivering the main oration, Pearse Doherty TD said,

"It is a privilege and honour to be standing here before you today in Carrickmore to pay tribute to Ireland's republican dead on the 95th Anniversary of the Easter Rising. As we honour the men and women of 1916, let us also remember all those republicans who gave their lives for Irish Freedom.

Tyrone was and is to the fore in the struggle for Irish freedom, you only have to look at the huge sacrifice borne in the most recent phase of the conflict with 57 IRA volunteers and 3 Sinn Féin activists on the Tyrone Brigade Roll of Honour.

Let us also remember here today all the Republicans in Tyrone who have dedicated their lives to the cause of a united Ireland, to the achievement of freedom, justice and peace, who have passed away since last Easter.

The principles set out in the Proclamation have yet to be put fully into effect on this island.

At the core of it, are Irish independence, sovereignty and equality. It is up to us to interpret these principles for our time, and to work together to achieve the type of free, just and equal Ireland envisaged by the men and women of 1916.

In 1916 we saw the coming together of republicans; nationalists, Irish Language activists, trade unionists and the women's movement in the cause of Irish Unity.

Today we need to build similar alliances not just to make Irish unity a reality but to ensure that it is an Ireland based on equality and justice. There has never been such a need for republican politics. The big questions of sovereignty, of people's rights, of citizenship are more relevant today than they have been for many years.

In these difficult times the absolute logic of political and economic reunification has never been easier to understand. The achievement of a United Ireland is within our reach. The peace process and the political developments which have grown from it have ensured huge change - Irish Language rights have been advanced, society demilitarised, second class citizenship has gone, and republicans are in the lead of a power sharing government.

But that is only part of the journey - we need to build support for Irish Unity. We need to engage with unionists about the future. We need to use our increased electoral strength to put pressure on the Irish government to begin preparations for re-unification. One very simple thing they could do immediately is to ensure that people in the 6 counties have a vote in the Presidential elections, which will take place later this year.

It is now less than a decade to the 100th anniversary of 1916 and we are now closer to bringing about a united Ireland.

But none of this will happen by chance. We need to organise, build support for Irish unity; expand the all-Ireland institutions, and force the Irish government to begin practical preparations for unity.

Sinn Fein is the only party with a strategy for the achievement of Irish Unity. In Tyrone Sinn Féin are leading the way with 3 MPs, 7 MLAs and 30 Councillors. We are using that mandate to create necessary change in communities and lead the demand for a united Ireland.

Our priority must be to further advance the republican objective of a united, independent Ireland. To keep making steady progress, and not to be deflected.
Sinn Fein's ability to negotiate successfully is ultimately dependent on the political strength of republicanism.

A few weeks ago Sinn Fein's newly elected TD's joined with our MLA's and MP's in Belfast. This was a powerful symbol of an All Ireland political project in action. This was real leadership across Ireland.

Although more still needs to be done, we need to build the party in every parish across Ireland. I call on everyone here to come forward and join Sinn Fein - people who were involved in the past, those who have helped out in election time, ex POWs, republican families, young and old - we need everyone to become involved.

This year will have an Assembly Election and local Council Election.

The elections on May 5th will be very emotive and significant because they fall on the 30th Anniversary of the death of IRA Vol. Bobby Sands.

We need to build on the momentum of our success in the 26 counties. That means an All Ireland effort. It means activists from every county in Ireland playing their own part in this campaign. It means continuing the process of change. The future lies in Irish unity and national equality.

We owe it to the Volunteers and to all those who have died throughout our struggle to reassert our efforts to see our struggle for independence through to an end.

While commemorations are important it is not enough for us to come here every Easter, the only true commemoration of our republican dead is to finish the struggle for which they died for. We must rise to the challenge and to go from here and make our fallen comrades proud as they have made us."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dublin Ógra lead the way in Easter 1916 Commemorations

Over the last number of Days, Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin activists played a major part in organising the Easter Commemorations all over the county.

Dublin Ógra activists were central to the colour party, the flute band, stewarding, musicians, speakers and in selling booklets and collecting money.

Spokesperson for Dublin ÓSF Saoirse Ní Chonaraín, deliviered the following speech to an applauding crowd;

"Ógra would like to commend those who have turned out today to remember the patriots of Easter week. We are not just here to remember, but to re- dedicate ourselves to the cause for which these brave men and women sacrificed so much for, a 32 County Socialist Republic.

It is the duty of Dublin Ógra and all of us present to actively campaign for republican goals. We must be to the fore in campaigning to protect the rights of our people and to be actively involved in undermining the consensus of the right, keeping in mind our ultimate objective. Like the leaders of 1916, we reject not just British rule in Ireland but the capitalist system as represented by today’s government of Fine Gael and regrettably Labour.

We totally reject the use of the nation's wealth to pay of the private banking debts and prop up European capitalism while the people of Ireland endure cut after cut.

We completely oppose the state visit of the queen of England planned for next month. Not simply in opposition to her unapologetic stance on Britain’s bloody history in Ireland and throughout the world, but also, the obscenity represented by the waste of millions of euro on her visit, while countless people go without jobs, lose their homes and are forced to go without essential services in this city everyday. This represents everything we are against.

Over 800 years, movements of their time campaigned in their own way trying to achieve the goal of Irish freedom. We will be part of that campaign and we believe that we will be part of a generation of people that will win Irish freedom.

This year we also remember the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikers. We must think of these ten brave men as an inspiration. As in the words of Bobby Sands;

"They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who does not want to be broken."

This is what separates us from those who seek personal gain. We will never forget the sacrifices made by those gone before us, and can not let them be in vain.

We stand together today closer to the achievement of our aims than any generation in almost a century. We must take this opportunity and allow our page to be written in history, as a time when we lived out our patriots dreams and became patriots ourselves. The struggle continues. Beir bua."

Friday, April 22, 2011

British Queen not welcome!

Cathal Óg Donnelly
Colm Dalton Cumann
NUI Maynooth

Listening to people like Irish Hotels Federation’s Chief Tim Fenn and Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons you would almost think that the British Queen’s visit was all we needed to get the country back on it’s feet. IMF/ECB bailout? I don’t think so, bring old Liz over, according to many of the leading “experts” the tourism sector will boom, and sure what else could you want?

I don’t think that I nor the speakers themselves have the patience or expertise to try and tease out the reality from these golden nuggets of speculation however the fact of the matter is the only boost to the Irish economy we are likely to see will be a one day spending spree on lollypops and tiny Union Jacks. I’m sure the country will prosper after such an anti-Paddy’s day. Bearing in mind of course that our taxes are likely to pay for the security of such a high and mighty visitor, one is forced to ask during a time of such economic hardship can it really be justified? I don’t know about you but I don’t want to see my taxes (yes I have paid taxes) pumped into high powered rifles designed to prevent Elizabeth’s jewel encrusted Crown from being damaged by some unruly protestor.

Denounce me as a political zealot if you will, but here are a few of the reasons why I am totally opposed to the Visit of her majesty the Queen. The British Queen is the head of the British armed forces. I hear people constantly question the limits of her power in relation to this debate. To clear things up, while she is not commanding ground forces in Iraq, she is the sole person who can declare war and conclude wars on other countries. At present, the British armed forces act as an occupying force in Iraq. The conflict thus far has claimed an estimated 122,483 civilian deaths. In Afghanistan where the queen’s forces are also present, 8131 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured in the past 2 years alone with casualties adding up even as I write this. Bear in mind that the original invasion took place in 2001, that is a quite a damning number of civilian deaths in just 2 years. I’m not sure about you but I’m not a huge fan of either conflict and I certainly won’t be there to shower the head of said armed forces with red, white and blue confetti.

The programme for our unelected visitor recently published by both Buckingham palace and Áras an Uachtaráin shamefully includes a visit not only to Croke Park, but the Garden of Remembrance. To add insult to injury her trip to Dublin occurs on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Aside from being downright bizarre it seems simply to be an attempt by southern politicians to bend over backwards in order to show how “pc” they can be while totally dispelling memory of our recent history. How will our imperialist visitor conclude her visit, with a stroll through the Bogside, or perhaps afternoon tea in Ballymurphy?

It ceaselessly amazes me that once the visit is mentioned, people go on the defensive, the Good Friday agreement, a sign of our political maturity, great for the country are terms bandied about from all sides. I however fail to see the merit in celebrating a visit by the Chief of the British armed forces when said forces happen to be occupying 6 of the 32 counties of our country. With the ink on the Saville report not even dry and the Ballymurphy massacre not even given mention, I find it a tad stinging that my Government and President would welcome a woman with honorary title in the Paratrooper Regiment responsible for the acts, to the south of our country with such open arms. The invitation is immature. The wounds from the Irish conflict are far too fresh. And while the North remains under British control I couldn’t see myself supporting such a move.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kurdish delegation visit Ireland

Ógra Shinn Féin played host to a delegation from the Association of Students from Kurdistan, Yekitiya Xwendekarên Kurdistan (YXK).

The delegation follows Navan's Cllr. Joe Reilly's visit to Istanbul last December where he participated in a conference on the Kurdish issue and the struggle for self-determination.

The delegation who are on a ten day trip around Ireland, were brought to significant historical sites all over the country. The students spent time in Dublin, Meath, Tyrone, Derry, Belfast and Cork.

The YXK was founded in Germany in 1991, and is an umbrella association of organisations and student groups from Kurdistan. In view of the conflict which has claimed 45,000 lives since 1984 between the Turkish military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), many Kurdish students felt the need to organize and stand up for the right ofself-determination for the Kurdish people.

International officer for Ógra Shinn Féin Dáithí Byrne, said; "We are delighted to have hosted the first Kurdish youth political delegation and we thought it important for them to visit to see sites which are hugely significant on the timeline of Irish history. We support the Kurdish struggle for self-determination, and extend our solidarity to them. We have many relationships with international organisations such as those in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Corsica. Our ties with the Kurdish students help us learn from other struggles and share our experience of the peace process here in Ireland."

Sinn Féin Youth Candidates

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Youth vote can deliver change in South Down

The chairperson of Ógra Shinn Féin in South Down, Brendan McGuinness, has called on young people to make their vote count in the upcoming Assembly and council elections.

Mr McGuinness said,

"As a young person I understand the questions that my peers will consider when deciding which party to vote for on May 5th. Issues such as tuition fees, youth provision, and jobs for the future are all high on the agenda.

"Sinn Féin have well thought out policies on all of these matters. When Sinn Fein proposed the abolition of student fees the SDLP opposed us in the assembly. Sinn Féin believe that education is a right, not a privilege, and we will continue to fight for this principle.

"Across South Down, many towns and villages lack adequate youth facilities. Sinn Fein have a clear track record within local councils of fighting for new and improved facilities. By voting for our candidates we can continue to prioritise the provision of leisure facilities."

“Locally, many young people are forced to emigrate in order to find employment. Sinn Féin has launched a job creation plan which clearly maps out solutions to this problem. It is unacceptable that South Down is being drained of skilled workers and educated young people who are forced to leave their families to travel abroad.

"Sinn Féin is a party of the future. We will use your vote to address all of these problems and more which young people across the county are faced with every day.

"On the 5th May, use your vote wisely and make your vote count. Vótáil Sinn Féin."

Clady/Ballymacnab (Armagh) Hungerstrike Weekend Launched

The Ballymacnab/Clady 81 committee recently launched a weekend of events to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike which will take place in the Ballymacnab and Clady area on Saturday 16th April and Sunday 17th April including a mass, function, exhibition and panel discussion. Conor Murphy MP joined a number of local republican activists, Sinn Féin representatives and former POWs in Armagh to formally unveil details of the event. Speaking at the launch, local Sinn Féin representative Liam Lappin said, “The 1981 hunger strike was a defining point in our history when ten very brave and courageous men defied British attempts to criminalise the republican struggle in Ireland. The hunger strikers have become iconic figures for freedom loving people across the world, and of course here in Ireland we regard them as heros.”

Also endorsing the weekend of events and encouraging people to show their support, Cathal Boylan MLA said, “I would encourage people, especially our youth to come and participate in this commemorative weekend. The year 1981 became a turning point in our liberation struggle and its legacy remains on a similar scale as 1916. The weekend will include the national hunger strike exhibition as well as a panel discussion with former blanketmen and protesting prisoners. The clar for the weekend is as follows:

Sat 16th April

7.30pm – Mass at Ballymacnab Chapel
9.00pm – Function in Clady Social club with music by Paddywagon and prominent speaker

Sun 17th April

11.00am – 6.00pm – National hunger strike exhibition on display in Ballymacnab hall
6.00pm – Panel discussion with former POWs Seanie McGerrigan, Freddie Toal and Paddy Quinn

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Óglach Seamus McElwain 25th Anniversary Commemoration

Republicans will gather next week on Holy Saturday (23rd April) to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of IRA Volunteer Seamus McElwain who was killed in an undercover ambush by the British SAS.

Sean Lynch was with Seamus when they were attacked, he was seriously injured in the ambush.

There will be a commemoration in Knockatallon, County Monaghan at 6.30pm, assembling at the monument dedicated to Seamus. Gerry Kelly is the main speaker and there will be a booklaunch and an exhibition in the Sliabh Beagh Hotel after. The events will conclude with an Irish night with music by Paddywagon.

Encouraging people to come along to the commemoration, Seamus's good friend and comrade Sean Lynch said,

"I am extremely proud to call myself a close friend and comrade of Seamus. I would encourage everyone to join with us in remembering a revolutionary freedom fighter. Seamus McElwain was a dauntless and brave IRA volunteer who struck fear into the British War Machine in the 6 Counties and even though he was momentarily captured, he was an integral part of the 1983 Great Escape when he alongside 37 IRA political prisoners escaped from Long Kesh."

"Gerry Adams TD spoke passionately about Seamus at his funeral calling him 'a brave intelligent soldier, a young man who gave up his youth to fight for the freedom of his country, an Irish freedom fighter murdered by British terrorists.’”

"Seamus gave his all to bring about necessary change and freedom to our country. He dedicated his whole life and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that young people of the future could live in a free and equal Ireland. Seamus was a revolutionary through and through, he was inherently political and knew that our struggle would lead us on a path of politics, that armed struggle could only take us so far. Infact he stood himself in the 1982 general election in Cavan Monaghan receiving almost 4000 votes."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Election Broadcast

Ógra Shinn Féin have produced an election broadcast for Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin. The republican youth movement have uploaded the broadcast onto YouTube and will be promoting through the various social networks like Facebook and Twitter from now until May 5th.

The video features footage from last year’s election, and emphasises the point that every single vote counts, it also includes footage of the current election campaign and also the hugely significant election of Bobby Sands as MP over 30 years ago. Among those interviewed are the 3 Sinn Féin Assembly Candidates, Michelle Gildernew MP, Phil Flanagan and Sean Lynch.

Encouraging people to watch the local Sinn Féin Election Broadcast, Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson Ciarán May said,

“With the ever increasing use of the internet, particularly YouTube and social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, Sinn Féin are keen to engage with people on these forums. While there is no substitute for face to face engagements, talking and listening to people on their doorsteps it is another avenue to communicate with people, promoting our vision and highlighting our work and activism.”

“We are particularly keen to engage young people and ensure they are informed and included in decision making processes. We will be using our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts to add to our already intensive door to door canvass operation and roll out of town hall meetings.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Donegal T.D to address Tyrone County Easter commemoration

The newly elected T.D. for South west Donegal, Pearse Doherty will be the main speaker at this year’s Tyrone County commemoration in Carrickmore on Easter Sunday. The county commemoration, along with over 40 local mobilisations are being organised by the Tyrone SF Commemoration committee. This includes a County commemoration in Coalisland on Easter Saturday (3pm) which will be addressed by former hunger striker, Pat Sheehan MLA. Martin Mc Guinness MP will deliver the oration at Ardboe on Easter Monday.

Speaking at the launch of the commemorative programme of events in the Garden of Remembrance last Friday evening, the chair of the organising committee, Sean Begley said:

‘This year marks the 95th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Nationally and internationally thousands of Republicans will mobilise to remember this defining moment in Irish history. ‘In this part of Ireland, the Tyrone Sinn Féin Commemoration Committee has organised over forty mobilisations throughout the county to mark this anniversary and to commemorate all Republicans who have played their part in every generation in the struggle for Irish freedom. Also speaking at the launch, were the Sinn Féin chairs of Tyrone’s 4 councils – Michelle O Neill, John Mc Namee, Micheala Boyle and Declan Mc Aleer. Cllr O Neill said ‘This is a hugely important and symbolic year for Republicans. Not only are we commemorating the 95th anniversary of the Rising, we are also remembering the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike when 10 Republican volunteers laid down their lives in defiance of Britain’s attempt to label them as criminals. ‘It is therefore fitting that the National Hunger Strike exhibition will be on display in the Cornmill, Coalisland on Good Friday and Easter Saturday and in the Patrician on Easter Sunday following the county parade in Carrickmore.

Also speaking at the launch, the Chair of Cookstown Council, John Mc Namee said ‘In every generation, Tyrone has played its part to the full in the struggle for Irish freedom. It is imperative upon us all to salute the huge sacrifice that people from this county have made. ‘In particular, this includes the families of the 56 IRA volunteers of the Tyrone Brigade and the 3 Sinn Féin activists who laid down their lives in the most recent phase of struggle. They and their families are always uppermost in our minds, particularly at Easter time.

The chair of Omagh Council, Declan Mc Aleer said

‘The commemoration committee have put together a wide range of events this Easter to celebrate and commemorate the sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives. In addition to the county and local commemorations, we also have exhibitions and street theatre. ‘The story of the hunger strike will be told through the National exhibition which will be on display in Coalisland and Carrickmore over Easter weekend. In addition to this, and due to unprecedented popular demand, we have decided to organise the street theatre again this year.

‘The street theatre will re enact the scene which unfolded at the GPO on Easter Monday 1916. When we did this last year, the feedback was hugely positive, so we have decided to re enact this particular scene this year. The play is quite emotive, but also a very effective way for people of all ages to learn at firsthand what occurred at the GPO in 1916, and its aftermath. The re enactment will commence at 2.45pm.

The chair of Strabane District Council, Michaela Boyle said ‘I am asking that you pay tribute to Irelands patriot dead by making a special effort to attend the county commemorations and as many local commemorations as possible. ‘In addition to attending the various events planned, I am calling on nationally minded people to proudly wear the Easter lily. The lily is our national emblem and is a very public expression of respect for those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom in 1916 and in every decade since’.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sinn Féin Youth Canvass in Enniskillen a great success

Sinn Féin carried out a successful youth canvass in Enniskillen on Saturday 9th April. It was organised to mark the 30th Anniversary of the election of Hunger Striker Bobby Sands as MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone. The youth canvass was led by the party's youth wing Ógra Shinn Féin, and included Ciarán May who at 20 is the youngest Council Candidate and Phil Flanagan who at 26 is the youngest Assembly candidate. The canvass focussed on youth issues particularly unemployment and job creation, emigration, education, suicide prevention, drug and alcohol awareness and youth and sporting facilities. The republican youth movement say they received a brilliant response on the doors. Ciarán May, Enniskillen Sinn Féin representative and spokesperson for Ógra Shinn Féin said, "It was very emotive to be involved in a canvass 30 years following the ground-breaking election of Bobby Sands as MP for our area. The youth vote will be absolutely key in this election and nobody is better placed than Sinn Féin to represent young people. We are a party of youth who passionately believe in promoting young people and ensuring they have a proper say in deciding our collective futures. We want to involve young people in decision making and the selection of me and Phil as Candidates and our vibrant youth wing is evidence of that." "More young people than ever are voting for Sinn Féin. The youth of Fermanagh South Tyrone played a decisive role in the nail biting 4 vote victory of Michelle Gildernew over the Tory Rodney Connor last year. The election last year and the election 30 years ago of Bobby Sands were two defining moments in the republican struggle. You can play your part this year in another crucial victory by electing three Sinn Féin MLA's and maximising our representation in the Councils."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Youth Talk a great success

A fresh and upbeat atmosphere filled Donagh's Millenium Centre on Saturday as Pearse Doherty TD and Seanad Candidate Kathryn Reilly were guest speakers at a Sinn Féin Youth Talk. The youngest Assembly candidate in Fermanagh South Tyrone Phil Flanagan chaired the event and the general feel was re-enforced by a large presence of young people. They were joined by the other two Sinn Féin Assembly Candidates Michelle Gildernew MP and Sean Lynch.

Kathryn Reilly and Pearse Doherty both spoke about the huge issues facing Irish youth today. They re-iterated that Sinn Féin were working and campaigning across Ireland to combat youth unemployment, campaigning for free education, adequate health, proper housing, provide decent youth and sporting facilities and working to reverse the plight of youth emigration. The Sinn Féin young spokesperson's highlighted that the recent success of Sinn Féin in the South, and the anticipated success in the upcoming Assembly and Council Elections will strengthen Sinn Féin's hand to continue to create the changes in society necessary to bring about freedom and equality.

Ciarán May, spokesperson for Ógra Shinn Féin speaking on the event said,

"The talk was an extremely useful engagement for local young people, many of whom asked very relevant questions of things facing them in their everyday lives. This is a great initiative which Sinn Féin are rolling out across the north, engaging the public on all issues. Everything about the event was youthful, the speakers, the chairperson and the crowd. It is clear from the quality and confidence of the young people in attendance that Sinn Féin is a party of youth and they have a bright future ahead of them."