Monday, October 31, 2011

National Youth Strategy

A chairde,

please note the National Youth Strategy, as endorsed by the Congress in January, by the Ard Chomhairle, and as officially launched at the recent Ard Fheis. Please take the time to read it, it provides a useful explanation of the blueprint for future activity.


Sinn Féin’s National Youth Strategy is the product of an extensive period of reflection, discussion, consultation and debate within the party.
It marks a step-change in our approach to youth engagement and development and puts youth very firmly at the heart of the Republican struggle.

It is intended to provide a clear framework for youth activism, to facilitate the growth and popularisation of republican politics amongst young people in Ireland today.
This will mean relating the republican vision of a united Ireland that provides equality of opportunity and equality of welfare to the everyday lives of young people, and communicating it to them in a language they can understand.

It will mean providing solutions, and providing hope, whether that’s to the young person leaving school without basic literacy and numeracy skills or to those completing third level education; to those faced with unemployment or to those looking to start a business.

The National Youth Strategy provides the template for a structured and focussed approach. It envisages a youth structure which is organised, well informed and active in its community.
One that is professional and flexible, creative and dynamic, resolute and determined. Above all, it provides young republicans with the opportunity to shape the next phase of struggle.

Darren O’Rourke
National Youth Committee

A Chara,
In every generation people have been called upon to advance the cause of Irish freedom. Today is no different. In the hard times that Ireland is currentl experiencing young people with a sense of purpose need to step forward.

This means standing with communities in the fight against cuts, bringing forward radical alternatives, building support for Irish re-unification and mobilising other young people into political action.

That is what Ireland needs today.
As young republican activists you have a big responsibility on your shoulders. This is your time.
Republicanism today, and our vision of the future, reflects our historical experience and our political objectives for this time.
We draw inspiration from the heroes of this phase of struggle and from our friends and comrades internationally.

Sinn Féin has demonstrated time and time again a preparedness to go on the political offensive, to take initiatives and go toe-to-toe with our political opponents in the battle of ideas, as well as in the hard job of delivering radical change.
It is never enough to sloganise.

We are not rhetorical revolutionaries. We are serious about turning the vision of 1798 and 1916 into a reality. I believe this generation of Irish republicans will do just that. You can deliver Irish re-unification in our time.
Is mise,
Gerry Adams TD

A Chara,
I ngach glúin dá dtáinig, glaodh ar dhaoine chun cás saoirse na hÉireann a bhrú ar aghaidh.

Tá sé mar an gcéanna inniu. San am crua seo atá againn in Éirinn faoi láthair is gá go dtiocfaidh daoine óga fadcheannacha chun tosaigh. Ciallaíonn seo seasamh le pobail sa troid in éadan ciorruithe, roghanna radacach a thabhairt chun tosaigh, tacaíocht a spreagadh do ath-aontú nahÉireann agus daoine óga eile a ghríosadh chun gníomhaíocht pholaitiúil. Sin an rud atá de dhíth ar Éirinn inniu.

Sibhse uilig atá i bhur ngníomhaithe poblachtacha óga, tá freagracht throm ar bhur nguaillí. Seo é bhur ré. I bpoblachtachas inniu agus san fhís atá againn don todhchaí, tá scáil ár staire le cois ár n-aidhmeanna polaitiúla le feiceáil. Faigheann muid ionspiorad óna laochra sa chéim seo den streachailt agus ón ár gcomrádaithe idirnáisiúnta.

Tá sé léirithe ag Sinn Féin arís agus arís eile go bhfuil muid ullamh chun polaitíocht ionsaitheach, go bhfuil muid tionscantach agus go bhfuil muid réidh le dhul buile ar bhuile lenar n-iomaitheoirí polaitiúla sa chath chun theacht ar idéanna agus san obair chrua chun athrú radacach a bhaint amach.
Ní leor briathar gan beart. Ní reabhlóidithe reitriciúla muid.
Tá rún daingean againn fís 1798 agus 1916 a fhíorú.
Creidimse go mbainfidh an ghlúin seo de phoblachtaigh Éireannacha fíorú na físe sin amach.
Is féidir libh athaontú na hÉireann a bhaint amach lenar linn

Is mise,
Gearóid MAc Ádhaimh TD


1) Introduction

Young people have always played an indispensible part in the Republican struggle.

Every generation of Irish men and women have played their role in shaping the Ireland they live in from the United Irishmen to Na Fianna Éireann and from the hunger strikers to our young political activists of today.

The present time presents us with new challenges and new opportunities. The absence of conflict, and the evolving nature of political struggle has led to a feeling that there is a less of an urgent need for revolutionary political activism among the public.

On the other hand, it is many generations since Irish Republicanism enjoyed as much popular support as it does now. This creates new opportunities for us and opens new doors for us.

To take full advantage of these opportunities, to develop our project in to the future and to combat apathy towards political activism, one ingredient is key; Youth.

If we are to build and sustain SF as we enter a new decade of struggle we need to develop a coherent, holistic and inclusive youth strategy that captures the revolutionary zeal of Irish youth, harnessing their passion and vibrancy to progressive republican activity, and enhancing our political project in the process.

We want young people to be able to look back on this period in years to come, and to be able to identify their part in the key political developments of this generation, and to be able to recall that a vibrant republican youth movement was central to creating the political spectaculars which defined the era.

This strategy is the culmination of a number of month’s intensive discussion debate and planning. It is a strategy developed by young people for young people.

This is intended to be the beginning of a new era in youth engagement among republicans, and to make Sinn Féin the key party as far as young people are concerned. But this document alone will not do that. For this document to have any effect, it will require that all republicans, and particularly young republicans, take on the youth project as a key priority for the party nationally and locally, to take ownership of this strategy, and to bring this project to young people in every corner of this island.

2) Process

The National Youth Committee (NYC) was established in 2010 under the national chairpersons department. The purpose of the NYC as detailed in its terms of reference:

‘To review and assess all existing republican youth development structures and initiatives, including Ógra and college cumainn; and identify how these can be changed, and or, improved upon.’

The National Youth Committee, took it upon themselves to fulfil the objectives set out in the terms of reference. Following discussion and consultation with a broad range of activists of all ages a series of reports were presented to a national youth conference on the future of Republican Youth in Ballybough Community Centre.

The conference commissioned a subgroup to develop on the debates and engagement up to that point, and to develop it into a cohesive, far sighted strategy, which would bring Sinn Féins engagement with young people to a new stage.

This document represents the fruit of that process, and comes with the endorsement of the Ard Chomhairle and of Ógra, and with a clear commitment from the leadership fo the party to provide whatever support they can to ensure that this vision outlined in this document in this strategy becomes a reality.

3) Strategic Framework

At the outset of this process, a vision, and a set of objectives were agreed upon to provide a strategic framework for the work of the National Youth Committee and to provide definition to the development of a youth strategy and to guide how Sinn Féin engages and works with young people.


‘’To mainstream and popularise republican ideals among all young Irish citizens.

To position Sinn Féin as a radical, progressive and relevant political alternative for Irish young people. To maximise the relevance of Sinn Féin by listening to, engaging and building alliances with young people.

To promote a progressive vision for the future which cherishes and guarantees the hopes, rights and aspirations of our young people. ‘’


* To popularise republicanism and the Party’s national strategic objectives.

* To encourage, engage and mobilise ever increasing numbers of young Irish citizens in support of national and democratic objectives.

* To develop political strategies and campaign programmes which reflect the needs and realities facing young people today.

* To put in place appropriate and cohesive organisational modes which are integrated with the wider national Party structures.

* To bring renewed innovation, imagination and energy to the Sinn Féin project.

* To promote the credibility of youth affairs within Sinn Féin and the overall republican struggle.

* To empower young people in a changing Ireland.

These objectives will bring definition to a single youth strategy which guides SF’s communication, engagement with and outreach towards youth in modern Ireland.

This framework represents a new strategic development in the party’s national work programme.

4) Structure

The development of a National Youth Strategy involved a number of discussions related to how youth activity was structured, and it related to the work of the party at large. In acknowledging the significant amount of work that had been carried out by various youth structures over many years, it was agreed that there was a need for a re-evaluation of how to structure youth development within the party, to ensure that party development was a central part of the work of the party, and to ensure the most effective possible delivery of the strategy.

Central to this was the idea that youth development work had to be led by, and driven by, young people, and needed to have the full support of the party, as well as good communication with the party.

On that basis, it was agreed that the National Youth Committee had to be the key body within the party as regards youth development and engagement. It has to act as a strategic reference point for activists, and it will have responsibility for setting the strategic and political objectives of the youth development project, and co-ordinating all youth activity

Naturally the makeup of the National Youth Committee allows for young people to choose their own leadership, as well as attempting to be representative of the party as a whole.

A third of the National Youth Committee will be elected by activists at an annual conference, and a third will be appointed on behalf of the party leadership by the party chair, under whose department the committee falls. An additional third will be selected by the two thirds already in place. The chair of the National Youth Committee will be an activist with a keen insight into youth affairs both within the party and in general, and will be appointed by the party chair.

It is naturally essential that the voice of young people within the party is heard at the highest levels within the party, and therefore the National Youth Committee will have representation on the Ard Chomhairle.

However, while the NYC is tasked with setting the political and strategic objectives for the youth project, there is clearly a need for particular bodies to deliver the functional, mechanical aspects of the strategy, and to bring it in to effect.

The strategy recognises the very different nature of organising among young people within, on the one hand, colleges and third level institutions, and on the other, within the community at large. This was based on a general consensus among youth activists expressed throughout the process.

Therefore it was agreed to develop different work plans for both the colleges and for the general community. These are entitled the ‘Coláistí’ programme, and the ‘Ógra’ programme.

With a view to the effective delivery of the workplans, and of the strategy generally, it was agreed that there should be a co-ordinating group for each of these workplans. Crucially, however, it was felt essential to guard against the development of two entirely separate youth wings, and that the entire youth project had to be tightly bound together, whilst taking consideration of the different nature of the struggle in the colleges and in the community. It was agreed therefore that the work of these two workplans would come converge under the central project identity and objectives of Sinn Féin-Republican Youth.

Core to this intention is the desire to push the project forward with significant, exciting flagship projects, to which all youth activists should contribute.

5) Ógra

Ógra Shinn Féin has played a central role within the republican project since it was established. That only fourteen years after its foundation, we have seen many leadership figures emerge from its ranks, such as Pearse Doherty, Daithi McKay and Toiréasa Ferris, is testament to its contribution.

The need for effective leadership and engagement with young people in working class and rural communities is more crucial than ever. This work, which will be undertaken hand in hand with local party structures and the ODU, will be the central focus of the Ógra workplan.

There is a co-ordinating group established to deliver this workplan. The co-ordinating group will have as its focus the roll out of the strategic vision and framework of the NYC. It comprises organisers selected on a regional basis to cover all of Ireland, who will each have responsibility for working closely with local areas in the furtherance of the youth strategy. It ought to be the body which can establish best practice for local areas to engage with, to organise, and to campaign with young people. The best practice and the criteria for it must however be constantly reviewed, re-evaluated, and renewed.

It will assist local areas in formulating and implementing youth strategies, which follow the patterns of best practice which have been agreed at the level of co-ordinating group. It further ought to keep the success of those local strategies under review.

It will the key support structure for those with key responsibilities for youth in local areas, and should provide those activists with training and education in order to equip them to take on crucial roles in the implementation of local youth strategies, as well as providing them with advice support and resources where possible and suitable.

Its work will be heavily co-ordinated with the work of local areas and of the ODU, in developing youth strategies on a local basis, that are integral to the workplans of the party in that area, and working to the same objectives, while nonetheless providing a clear focus on the urgency of encouraging young people in to the party.

6) SF Coláistí

The colleges create a unique set of circumstances for political activism. It is the largest concentration of young people available for any serious length of time. Where young people travel to attend university, they often don’t return home very often and summer aside will struggle to tie in with their own local SF structure. On the other hand, they are well placed to get very involved in the campus and the locality of their college.

Sinn Féin is active within most of Ireland’s main universities. Over recent years SF has learned a great deal from our dealings with colleges, and over time, are building up knowledge of the best practice models for organising in colleges, however there is still much work to be done.

There is also a co-ordinating group which has been established with a view to ensuring the delivery of the colleges workplan. This co-ordinating group shall have the responsibility to co-ordinating the work of the various colleges, and to encourage the implementation of best practice nationally, to set up and maintain College Cumainn in co-operation with local members, directing the fresher’s project, developing capacity within colleges and professionalising our project in the colleges.

The colleges in Uladh shall be the responsibility of the Colleges Chomhairle Ceantair which has developed in recent years, and a similar model will be applied in Dublin which has a high concentration of colleges. In other areas the co-ordinating group shall work closely with the directorates, and the ODU to ensure that college cumainn are operating in line with the workplans, and are active.

A College forum meeting twice a year will be convened to bring together a wider group of college activists before the fresher’s events and later in the academic year to collaborate on developing joint college events with national participation.

7) Flagship projects

The idea of a flagship project is to bring something new and different to the workings of the NYC. It’s essential purpose is to challenge young people’s thinking as regards the struggle and politics generally, be they young people within the party or young people generally.

These projects are intended to be the catalyst for the step change within SF by creating a focal point for all young people, across both work plans, and thereby maximising comradeship, cohesion and relationship building among and between young activists whilst projecting an attractive image to other young people outside organised republican activity.

A number of these flagship, signature type projects have been identified, and work has begun in some of these areas, however, the development of these flagship projects are central to the development of this strategy, and will be an on-going project

These are intended to include events such as the below, and many more besides.

* Large scale mobilisations of young people to Ard Fheiseanna

* Mass protests and mobilisations

* An annual youth congress event

* Training and capacity building events

* International events and delegations

* A regular series of weekend residentials.

* Outdoor/ large scale concerts

* The development of a social scene to cater for young republicans in large urban centres.

Flagship projects will be complementary to all the work plans and projects. They will require the full support of the aprty at large, and should not be left to the young people of the party alone; these are to be taken on as significant projects for the party.

They should foster a collective political identity among young republicans within the framework of Sinn Féin Republican Youth and seek to excite the imagination of other youth not yet involved in our struggle.

8) Setting priorities and delivering the workplans

Given the crucial nature of this work it is important that we set realisable, realistic and tangible targets. It is incumbent upon us to be ambitious.

The key priority of this strategy should be to ensure that Sinn Féin would become the most attractive party for young people to join.

Secondly we must aim for all young people involved in the party to identify with the youth project and to work to implement it.

Externally we must seek to create a wider pool of republican minded young people who will identify with Sinn Féin as their voice, and see it as interested in youth.

Finally , it is imperative that all areas will have in place, and are promoting effective local youth engagement strategies, and that there are youth engagements strategies in place for all third level institutions. This work then needs to be overseen by the delivery bodies of the National Youth Committee, the co-ordinating groups.

The proposed strategy needs to convert increased youth activism and youth work into increased membership of Sinn Féin among young people - and by so doing increase interaction between young people and Sinn Féin.

It is essential that we produce a generation of activists who are articulate considered and revolutionary young leaders, capable of promoting our message among young people with the benefit of comprehensive political education and training, as well as proper mentoring and support.

As noted above, both the Coláistí co-ordinating group and the Ógra co-ordinating group have developed detailed workplans intended to give effect to the strategic framework and strategy set out by the National Youth Committee, and delivering the youth project to more and more people.

This involves many different projects and initiatives which will vary in scale and in nature, but will all contribute to the development of the youth strategy, and contribute to its integration in to the party’s work generally.

These work plans will include, among other initiatives, projects such as

* The beginning of the development of a comprehensive youth focused policy platform, headed up by 26 county spokesperson on Youth Affairs, and member of the National Youth Committee, Senator Kathryn Reilly. This will be a policy platform developed by young people and for young people, and will provide us with an excellent tool in engaging with young people all over the country.

* Beginning of set of regular monthly evening events in major urban centres, with a political talk discussion debate followed by a well-advertised and prepared musical/social event.

* creative campaigning essential, stunts, and use of new Media.

* Comprehensive engagement with local areas, to promote the youth strategy, and to begin the process of local areas developing their own youth strategies.

* Initial steps towards the planning of a concert/festival type event.

* A National Youth Conference

* The development of a joined-up and sophisticated approach to new media. This will be an essential area for youth activists in the time to come, and could prove an invaluable tool in advancing our struggle.

* A greater emphasis on youth at the Ard Fheis, using it to promote SF as a youthful party, with a youthful membership. This is to be achieved by large mobilisations, entertainment events, talks and fringe events, and the creation of a social focal point for young people within the Ard Fheis.

* International Delegation/projects with the purpose of forging strong links of comradeship both with fellow Sinn Féin activists, and with International activists, and to educate activists as to the international nature of struggle.

* Events to support the ongoing work of the United Ireland taskforce, including college focused surveys and public talks, campaigning for all Ireland voting rights, and developing the discussion on Irish Unity among young people through a series of engagements and conferences.

* Events to mark International Womens day and the role of women in our struggle.


The Irish Republican vision as set out in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil is as relevant today as it ever was.
The role of this generation of young republicans must be to translate that vision into the 21st century context, to see it realised, and in doing so to complete the work that so many sacrificed so much for.
To do this we will need to be active and energetic, and plan our way forward in a strategic and measured way.
The National Youth Strategy has the potential to deliver this. It provides a framework to build youth structures right across the island, to increase our capacity, and through flagship projects, to redefine youth politics in Ireland.
Through the work of young activists in their local communities or institutes of education, right across Ireland, we can place the ideals of the Irish Republic at the heart of youth politics.

There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, but the opportunity we have to make progess is unprecedented. Sinn Féin has made political, organisational and electoral gains North and South.
The commitment, enthusiasm and drive of young peopleto build on those gains will be key to our ultimate success.

Activity is the currency.
This National Youth Strategy provides the template.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ógra welcomes ETA annoucement

Ógra Shinn Féin has welcomed the announcement from ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna) that it is to end its armed activity.

In its statement, ETA declared its intention of embracing the resolution reached by delegates at the recent conference in San Sebastian, which Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams attended. Ógra Shinn Féin's International Officer, Daithi Byrne said;

"This is a truly historical declaration and a brave move by ETA. The Spanish and French governments should take this opportunity to engage with ETA and the Basque people. This statement is very clear. There is a desire for a peaceful and democratic solution to the long-running conflict. Both the French and Spanish governments need to embrace this monumental step and set about a process of dialogue and peacemaking. We hope that the Basque people will have a right to vote for candidates from any political party they decide, free from Spanish interference and repression. We are closely watching the developments in the Basque country and we wish our Comrades there the very best."

Full text of ETA declaration;

With this declaration, Euskadi ta Askatasuna, the Basque socialist revolutionary organisation for national liberation, wishes to give news of its decision:

Eta considers that the international conference that has recently taken place in the Basque country is an initiative of enormous significance.

The agreed resolution includes all the elements for an integral solution of the conflict, and it has attained the support of a wide spectrum of the Basque society and the international community.

A new political time is emerging in the Basque country. We have an historical opportunity to find a just and democratic solution for the centuries old political conflict. Dialogue and agreement should outline the new cycle, over violence and repression. The recognition of the Basque country and the respect for the will of the people should prevail over imposition.

This has not been an easy road. The cruelty of the fight has taken away the lives of many comrades. Many others are still suffering in prison and in exile. Our recognition and deepest tribute goes out to them.

From here on the road will not be easy either. Facing the imposition that still exists, every step, every achievement, will be the result of the effort and fight of Basque citizens.

During these years the Basque country has accumulated the necessary experience and strength to address this path and it also has the determination for doing it. It is time to look at the future with hope. It is also time to act with responsibility and courage.

Therefore, Eta has decided the definitive cessation of its armed activity. Eta calls upon the Spanish and French governments to open a process of direct dialogue with the aim of addressing the resolution of the consequences of the conflict and, thus, to overcome the armed confrontation.

Through this historical declaration, Eta shows its clear, solid and definitive commitment.

Lastly, Eta calls upon the Basque society to commit to this process until freedom and peace are achieved.
Long live the free Euskal Herria! Long live Basque socialism! No rest until independence and socialism!
Basque country, 20 October 2011
Euskadi ta Askatasuna

Monday, October 03, 2011

Coalisland Clonoe Republican Youth Weekend

I dtreo Poblacht Nua; Chomhdháil ar Aontú Éireann i nGaillimh ; Conference on Irish Unity in Galway

This Friday will see a Major Conference on Irish Unity in Galway, at 7.30 pm in the Galway Bay Hotel.

Following on from successful conferences in Dublin, Cork, Monaghan, as well as the US and England, this promises to be a further opportunity to develop the conversation on Irish Unity and to popularise our message of Irish Unity, not as a mere addition of 6 counties to the 26 but as the creation of a New Republic.

Speakers on the night will include Uachtarán Shinn Féin, Gerry Adams TD
Stein Bredal, and expert on Norwegian Oil Industry, who will be speaking on the issue of Natural Resources
Prof. Terrence mcDonough, Dept of Economics NUIG
Dr Lionel Pilkington NUIG

This promises to be an interesting and significant occassion, and will also serve to bolster the campaign for All Ireland voting rights which is being promoted by Sinn Féin, Ógra, and presidential Candidate Martin McGuinness.

We are looking for a youthful presence, so please, make an effort to attend.

Friday, October 7, 2011,
7.30 – 9.30 pm 7.30

Chair : Toireasa Ferris 7.35
Opening Remarks : Senator Trevor ó Clochartaigh 7.40

Gerry Adams, T.D. – Uniting Ireland 7.50

Professor Terence McDonough – Economic Sovereignty 8.00

Mairéad Mac Con Iomaire – 8.10

Dr. Áine Macken Walsh – Land & Fisheries-Our Natural Resources 8.20

Discussion, Questions & Answers 8.30 Stein Bredal –
What can we learn from the Norwegian experience 8.40

Lionel Pilkington – Critical Protestanism 8.50

Peter Canavan – Sport & Culture 9.00

Discussion & Qs & As 9.20

Seán Tyrrell – Singer 9.40 Amhrán na bhFiann

I dTreo Poblacht Nua Óstán Galway Bay
Aoine, 7 Deireadh Fómhair, 2011,
7.30 – 9.30i.n.
7.30 Cathaoirleach: Toireasa Ferris
7.35 Fáilte agus Ráiteas Tosaigh: An Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

7.40 Gerry Adams, TD – Téama: ‘Ag Aontú Éireann’

7.50 An tOllamh Terrence McDonough – ‘Ardcheannas Eacnamaíoch’

8.00 Mairéad Mac Con Iomaire

8.10 An Dr. Áine Macken – ‘Acmhainní Nádúrtha Talúnagus Iascaigh’ 8.20 Plé, Ceisteanna agus Freagraí

8.30 Stein Bredal – ‘Céard is féidir foghlaim ó eispéireas na hIorua?’

8.40 Lionel Pilkington – ‘An Protastúnachas Criticiúil’

8.50 Peter Canavan – ‘Spóirt agus Cultúr’

9.00 Plé, Ceisteanna agus Freagraí 9.20 Seán Tyrrell – Amhránaí

9.40 Amhrán na bhFiann