12 November 2009 Edition
Large crowd for launch of Ógra in Fermanagh
Ógra Shinn Féin National Organiser Barry McColgan gave an in-depth review of work carried out by local activists over the past 12 months including canvassing on behalf of Debbie Coyle in the Enniskillen by-election and hosting the National Youth Camp in Knockatallon.
“2009 marked an important year for Ógra Shinn Féin as it marked the centenary of the founding of Na Fianna Éireann and Ógra were proud to assist in organising the National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Galbally, Co Tyrone in mid August and we were honoured to play a part in the parade that took place 100 years to the day since the founding of Na Fianna Éireann.”
McColgan also said that he was confident that Ógra Shinn Féin would play an important role in the struggle for Irish independence and that young activists in Fermanagh are well positioned to become a major influence on other Cumainn throughout Ireland.
IMPORTANCE OF YOUTH
Councillor Phil Flanagan who also attended the event gave a brief speech outlining the importance of youth to the history of the Republican Movement.
“Eighty nine years ago this week, one of Ireland’s most celebrated Irish Republican Martyrs, Kevin Barry, was hanged. Barry was brutally tortured and yet he still refused to inform his captures of the names of his comrades. He bravely accepted his fate and was proud to give his life for his country. We would do well remember the bravery shown by young men such as Barry in the fight for Irish freedom. In times gone by, young republicans faced no choice but to take up arms and fight in order to free our land. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
“We now have the political strength and support to bring about real and lasting change for all of the people of this island and we will not allow the sectarian regimes of the past back into power. Sinn Féin have brought us closer to our goal of Irish unity and independence than at any stage since the 12th Century.”
LEADERS OF THE FUTURE
Flanagan concluded his speech by saying:
“As a young councillor of only 25 years of age, I say it is now up to the younger generation to continue that work. It is the current membership of Ógra Shinn Féin who will be the party leaders of the future.
Mar a deirtear, ‘Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí’. As the old Irish proverb goes, Praise the youth and it will prosper.”
Concluding the launch, experienced republican and Chairperson of Fermanagh Sinn Féin, Sean Lynch drew attention to the changes in this country since he was a youngster. He said that the current political struggle is just as challenging as any other stage of the conflict.
He paid tribute to his late comrade Seamus McElwain who was murdered by the SAS in 1986. McElwain, as a former member of Na Fianna Éireann from the age of 14, was well aware of the important role that the youth played in the Republican Movement and had openly stated his opinion that a republican political group would be needed in order to carry on the struggle once the British government had been brought to the negotiating table.
Lynch also said that he would like to encourage any young republicans in Fermanagh between the ages of 16 and 29 who wanted to play a part in the struggle for Irish freedom to join Ógra Shinn Féin. He also made it perfectly clear that he has faith in the youth of today and that Sinn Féin were not a closed shop and that new members are always welcome.
The evening finished with live music from Spirit of Freedom.