Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Launch of Campaign to Elect Martin McGuinness

The campaign to elect Martin mcGuinness as President will begin in earnest this weekend with the official launch of the campaign. There will be a rally in Dublin at 7pm this Saturday, in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda, in Parnell Square.

A large youth presence is essential, to promote mcGuinness as a candidate with the support of the youth of Ireland, and its important that there is a presence there from all parts of the country. Bí ann and pass on the message.

Beidh an feachtas chun Martin McGuinness a thoghadh ag tosnú go dáiríre an deireadh seachtain seo le seoladh oifigiúil an feachtas. Beidh rally ann dé Satharn ag a 7in ins an seomra Pillar sa Rotunda i cearnóg Pearnall.

Tá séan-thabhachtach go mbeidh go leor daoine óga ann chun a léiriú go bhfuil daoine óga ag tacaíocht le Martin, agus tá sé tabhachtach go mbeadh daoine ann ó gach cuid den tír. Bí ann agus scaip an teachtaireacht.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bilbao Kukutza Demolished

Barra Mac An Fhaili
Dermot Crowley/Paula Murphy Ógra Cumann

Anyone who was on the Ógra mobilisations to the Basque country in the past number of years will be familiar with the Kukutza or Gaztetxea in Bilbao . The Kukutza was demolished last week in a move which was undertaken against the wishes of the local population and in favor of local property developer. The huge military operation needed to undertake the demolition was just a small measure of how unpopular the move was amongst the majority of the local population.

A number of people had been arrested in the Kukutza last Wednesday as a forced eviction was undertaken by heavily armed members of the Basque regional police. Plastic Batons rounds were also fired on this occasion, injuring several people. In the days following the demolition over 30 people were arrested and many more injured in demonstrations.

The cultural and social centre was equipped with a public bar, climbing wall, clothes shop, Gym, computer suite, conference facilities as well as accommodation facilities and cooking and restaurant facility. The building was used by the local community for various classes and activities. The Kukutza was also a hive of activity no matter what time of the day it was.

Ógra members will be familiar with the building because it served as a vocal point for a number of delegations. It also provided accommodation for two Ógra delegations for two years; in 2007 and 2008. In this time over 40 members of Ógra passed through and stayed in the building. We were astounded at the diversity of activities going on in the building and the amount of development being undertaken in the building. Throughout our stay we were afforded the greatest hospitality and were made very welcome throughout.

The network of Youth Houses or Gaztetxea in the Basque country was an impressive aspect of the Basque struggle. It provided many young people with a facility they could call their own. It was an outlet to channel their energies and time and provided an unrivalled service to the local communities. The Kukutza in Bilbao was recognised as one of the most successful in the network of Youth Houses.

I stayed in the facility on a number of visits to the Basque country. The last time was during Easter 2009. After completing the grueling mendi martxa -or mountain march- I stayed on the building for two nights along with other international representatives from Sweden and Norway . Like me they were amazed at the ever continuing development of the Kukutza.

It was with sadness that I learned from a great friend from the Basque country some two months ago that the building was ear marked for closure and demolition. The groups based in the building were served with eviction notices. Just last Thursday over 5,000 people came onto the streets of Bilbao in protest at the demolition. Over the weekend as protests continued many protestors were arrested and injured as the Basque police opened fire on protestors.

I think I can speak for the Ógra representatives who visited the building when I say that we were saddened at the news of its demolition. It was truly a unique building.

No matter what is put in its place it will go no way to replacing what the Kukutza meant to local people. It will also be no substitute for the good work that was undertaken in the building for a wide cross section of the local population. Once again big business and wealthy property developers, supported by the ruling elite have trampled upon the ordinary working class people.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A President for All; Contact the Candidates!!!

As the Presidential Election race begins to pick up the momentum, the work of Sinn Féin and Ógra Shinn Féin has put the issue of voting rights for those in the North on the political landscape, and it is being discussed, on National newspapers, on websites and on local radios stations.

You can help the campaign, and it will only take a few minutes.

Now is the time to escalate the campaign and to push this campaign further. We need to put the election candidates, and elected representatives under pressure. Please write to the various candidates highlighting why the need for this to happen. Particularly write if you are a northern citizen, and indicate that you would like to vote, yet are denied the opportunity.

The election candidates email addresses are;

The below is a sample letter

Dear .......

The subject of Irish citizens voting rights is on the agenda and some candidates have proclaimed their support for the idea for full voting rights for recent emigrants.
I believe many of those who have emigrated have left due to the economic factors on the island of Ireland and should definitely have a say in their native country’s future and who controls their fiscal policy in order to make Ireland a place in which they can have the opportunities they did not have on their emigration should they wish to return.
I feel compelled to ask, as an Irish citizen who was born in Belfast, what about the voting rights of Irish citizens in the North? The fact that the title of the office, the ‘President of Ireland’ does not allow for all citizens of this island to have their say on who that president should be is undemocratic and a complete contradiction.
The current situation on voting rights means that the president in office at this moment, Mary McAleese could not vote for herself were she living in her hometown.
Since the partition of this island, the government in Dublin is seen by many in the North as an institution that is and was supposed to protect Irish citizens in the times of political turmoil. In reality, there was little to no protection or intervention politically, diplomatically or otherwise in the grand scheme of things. In the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement and the increasingly good community relations, now is the time more than ever for the political institutions to reach out to northern citizens, who expect, and are entitled to expect legal protection, and yet they have no representation. It is essential in the interests of peace and reconciliation to make this happen.
This is not a controversial idea, and it received broad support from the Oireachtas Good Friday Implementation ctte, and has received support from spokespersons from most major parties, including Fine Gael, the SDLP, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil.
As long as the franchise of the Irish state extends only as far as Dundalk, the office holder cannot be properly called ' A President of Ireland'

I would love to hear your views on this…

Kind regards........

Contact your local TD and ask him or her to raise it

The address of TDs can be found here;

The list of TDs and Senators by Constituency is below.

(Senators and TDs email address follow the pattern

The below is a sample letter/email to a TD

I am writing to ask you to use your position to raise the issue of the
lack of presidential voting rights for Irish citizens in the north. There are hundrers of thousands of Irish Citizens, who are entitled to expect legal protection from the state, yet they have no ability to vote for the President of Ireland. If we can truly call the office the president of Ireland, then surely Irish people living just a few kilometres up the road should have the right to vote for their president.

Mary McAleese grew up in Belfast, if she had remained there she would
have never even got the chance to vote in the election of her
president never mind become one herself. In mnay countries like the
USA where the presidential role is much more powerful anyone with a US
passport can vote no matter where in the world they are but my Irish
neighbour, my cousins, my friends who live just a short trip away on
this very island have no right at all. Please give your support to
this call and raise this issue in the Dáil and elsewhere.

Kind Regards.....

Write in to your newspapers and radios, either as an Ógra activists or as an ordinary citizen and voter. We will be asking all areas to be active on this campaign over the coming time and asking them to conduct actions. This is a small action that any activist can take to highlight this issue and to lobby your Elected reps and the candidates.

Send us back any interesting responses you get,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Youth Strategy launched at Ard Fheis

Ógra Shinn Fein activists, college activists and an array of young republicans from across Ireland recently gathered at this year’s historic Ard Fheis in Belfast to see the official launch of the new national youth policy. The document, which was presented by Senator Kathryn Reilly, Martin McGuinness MLA, mayor of Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile and former hungerstriker Leo Green, aims at increasing the capacity of Ógra and college cumainn throughout Ireland, and improving the appeal of Sinn Féin among young people generally.

The event, which was chaired by Kathryn Reilly, kicked off with a few words from Martin McGuiness on the importance of young people to our struggle, and ended with a very emotive and inspiring speech from Leo Green on the hunger strike.

Later on that night the activists attended a reception hosted by Belfast city mayor, Niall Ó Donnghaile in the emerald road house, with special guest, republican and Irish language enthusiast heavy weight boxer Martin Rogan.

Speaking on the event and the importance of the time ahead, Cuige Uladh co-ordinator Cllr Pádraig Quinn said;

"The event held last Friday was the culmination of over 12 months of hard work carried out by Ógra Shinn Féin and the newly formed national youth committee. Over 100 young people were in attendance at different periods of the day, many of which left re-energized and focused for the time ahead.

It is an extremely important document, refocusing the party’s dealings with youth and placing it firmly at the fore.

'I think it is important that we begin to see a new generation of young people emerge from the ranks of Ógra and take up leadership positions. Whether it be in local council, the assembly, the Dáil , local cumainn or CC, young people need to begin to take on serious positions, all the while learning from more experienced activists and applying new skills, a fresh set of eyes and new energy to our ever-changing struggle for freedom.'

This Ard Fheis very clearly had a youthful, vibrant feeling. There were large amounts of young people present throughout the course of the weekend with many young republicans contributing greatly to the debate and discusion.

Young activists such as Mayor Cllr Niall Ó Donnghaile and Senator Kathryn Reilly played key roles chairing events and addrising the crowds, while many ogra activists where elected to sinn féins national executive.  

In the coming weeks the Ógra Shinn Féin national executive will be working upon implementing a work plan. This will be the basis of our activism and campaigns for the months ahead and will see a new beginning for the republican youth movement by initiating a intensified engagement with local party structures throughout the country".

The National Youth Strategy will be posted on the blog in the coming days.

Sinn Féin Hold Successful LGBT Fringe Event

Among the many interesting and motivating fringe events held at this years historic Ard Fheis, was the launch of a new beginning for the party and its dealings with the issue of LGBT rights. The event, a panel discussion consisting of Catriona Ruane and Eoin O’Brien, saw a wide spectrum of interested party activists and community groups come together to discuss the current Sinn Féin policy on LGBT rights which was drafted in the mid 1990s.

The panel discussion was organized by the newly formed LGBT Sinn Féin committee and signaled the launch of consultation in view of developing a innovative, dynamic and comprehensive Sinn Féin LGBT policy.  The optimism and drive of those in attendance was clear to be seen with many congratulating Sinn Féin on its new commitment.

Speaking on the event and the issue of LGBT rights committee member and Ógra Cuige Uladh organiser Cllr Pádraig Quinn said:

“The discussion was a very informative and up beat event, with both the speakers and community groups participating in active discussion around the current policy and what lies ahead.

This is an issue that Sinn Féin feels very passionate about. One of our core fundamental principles, as republicans is that of equality.We believe that the LGBT community is wrongly being discriminated against in many aspects of life and that the current legislation does not go far enough to protect their rights. It is important now that as the leading voice in republicanism, Sinn Féin takes a pro-active approach in LGBT matters.

The new committee which will very soon see its AGM is committed to establishing a program of work which will not only see way to a new policy document, but challenge the current legislation and those who deem it worthy.

I think it is now important that activists from across the 32 county’s and in all aspects of our party’s structure consider joining this committee and assisting in the development of this document”.

For more information on the committee and its AGM please contact Pádraig Quinn on

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ógra Shinn Féin Doire hold President for All protest

Members of Sinn Féin and Ógra Shinn Féin organised a protest in Derry City Centre today regarding the lack of Presidential voting rights for Irish citizens living in the 6 counties. In order to maximise impact the ÓSF campaigns team in Derry made a banner, posters and around 300 booklets detailing the campaign to extend voting rights.

Ógra Shinn Féin Doire Campaigns officer Ruairí McLaughlin said "We are Irish, we are Republican and we demand the right to have say in the election of our President. A President for all? How so, if as Irish citizens in the north we are denied the right to elect this head of state? It is a ridiculous state of affairs when the friends and family of current President Mary McAleese who grew up with her and still live in Belfast weren't even allowed to vote in her elections? We need to hear from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the SDLP and all other parties who proclaim nationalist and republican ideals, where do they stand on this issue? The extension of voting rights to citizens in the north is a natural outworking of the Good Friday Agreement and an essential step in the reunification of our country".