7 October 1999 Edition
Young and Independent
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, in his address to the Ogra Shinn Féin National Congress, spoke of the need for a radical overhaul of the system north and south of the border and the need to gain further support for republicanism.
``I want to welcome especially people from north Antrim, Toomebridge, Randalstown, Crumlin and other parts of County Antrim-because that's the place where it's dangerous to be a republican,'' Adams began.
Putting the current wranglings in the peace process in perspective, he explained that ``whatever we do on the microscale has to fit into that on the macroscale of our beliefs''. He also reminded delegates that electoral support for the republican analysis is a necessity if we are to consolidate these beliefs: ``Any notions that we can free Ireland must be put to one side. Only the Irish people can free Ireland''.
On the issue of corruption, which was discussed by Ogra members, Adams said that what we are seeing is the exposure of ``an elite group of corrupt politicians, corrupt business people, corrupt financial institutions, who have colluded together to rob decent people of what they deserve of right.
``It isn't enough just to tinker with the system. Ruairí Quinn made a suggestion that the money that was stolen through the Ansbacher accounts should be reclaimed and given back to the taxpayers - that's just stroke politics, just a little bit of opportunism. What the Ansbacher scandal proves is that the system is rotten to the core.''
Adams spoke also of the young people living in deprived areas of Dublin city: ``At an event I attended in the Seán MacDermott Street/Sheriff Street area of Dublin a year ago, people gathered to commemorate the loss of 86 young people through drugs abuse. I know Seán MacDermott Streets and Sheriff Streets in my own constituency. But none of these areas that have had 86 people die as a result of 30 years of conflict.''
Ogra Shinn Féin National Congress
By Danny McCloskey
Around 200 members of Ogra Shinn Féin descended on Dublin's Liberty Hall on Saturday, 2 October, for the group's second annual National Congress.
Addressing the conference were delegates from all over the 32 counties; international groups from the Basque country and Catalonia; the British left, and political prisoners. The main speaker of the day was Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
In the two years of its existence, Ogra Shinn Féin has grown throughout the country.
Over the past year, Ogra Shinn Féin has campaigned on the disbandment of the RUC, the ending of harassment of republicans by the Special Branch, and the release of all political prisoners.
The morning session of Congress consisted of reports from all the cumanns and the National Board.
Former political prisoner Vincent Woods read a statement from the Portlaoise republican prisoners, ``commending the excellent work Ogra Sinn Fhéin is doing in helping to politically educate young Irish men and women and we salute the idealistic and motivated example your members so often set in being to the fore in political activism''.
Showing their autonomy within the broader party, delegates were not afraid to go against the party line by voting against the implementation of the Patten Report. The youth movement declared that the report had not gone far enough; only the complete disbandment of the corrupt police force would satisfy them. They also reasserted their commitment to socialism and independence.