19 July 2007 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected]. No attachments please


The future of Ógra Shinn Féin

A chara,
I am writing in response to a letter by Claire Fitzgerald (12 July ‘07) questioning ‘Does Ógra Shinn Féin have a future’. Firstly I think yes Ógra do indeed have a future, indeed we in Ógra are the future.
The youth of Sinn Féin have a very important role to play in the development of Sinn Féin and republicanism.
You can’t expect to throw young people into Sinn Féin to be hit with talk of socialism, national strategic objectives etc. You need to ‘ease in’ new recruits to the party. Ógra does this; indeed education is one of our main aims in Ógra, besides recruitment and campaigns. So instead of being thrown into the deep end so to speak Ógra educate people into understanding the meanings and importance of such issues as I have mentioned. However many of our membership are both members of Ógra and senior Sinn Féin. If this wasn’t the case it would be contradictory in my opinion.
Claire also raises the point “I believe people are missing out on the experience of older comrades. At the same time older comrades are not hearing the views of youth.” We regularly have briefings by members of the Sinn Féin leadership, which listens to our views and bring that back to the leadership, whilst we take on board the views of the leadership.
Claire also raises a question about what are Ógra doing in relation to campaigns, stating “Just talking about the Six Counties and international issues is not enough.” We in Ógra have been running with a suicide prevention campaign since last year which is a massive issue amongst the youth of Ireland. This should not be underestimated, and indeed in the coming weeks we will be launching a campaign around the issue of road safety. They are to name but a few campaigns.
 However with all this in mind people need to remember the Brits still occupy the Six Counties and we will not stop in working to secure their departure.
Is mise,
Barry McNally,
West Tyrone,
Ógra Shinn Féin

A chara,
Ógra Shinn Féin is a radical, vibrant and campanigning activist group and is the fastest growing youth wing of  any political party in Ireland. We in Ógra give young people a voice; we campaign on issues which both interest and effect them such as suicide prevention and road safety. We are represented at every level of the party’s structures and play a role in developing party policies. We in Ógra Shinn Féin are the future of this party, we are the next councillors, TD’s, MLA’s, MEP’s and MP’s. No party can survive without youth and in my opinion Ógra Shinn Féin’s future is well and truely secure.
Is mise,
Caoimhe Ní Shluain,
Ógra Shinn Féin,
Co. Na Mí

A chara,
In response to last week’s letter in An Phoblacht, of course Ógra has a future. I have to say that I found the analysis of Ógra’s activity to be spurious and unfounded. A youth wing is a necessary part to any political or revolutionary movement. Young people must be galvanised to participate in our struggle, in their own unique way if indeed our struggle wants to ensure its future.
Firstly to comment on some of the allegations made of Ógra’s activities. Ógra members do not separate themselves from Sinn Féin activities. Ógra members are an integral part of Sinn Féin structures. They participate in all of the party’s activities and certainly benefit from, “the experience of older comrades”. Secondly the assertion that Ógra is not campaigning on youth issues is absolutely false. At our last Comhdháil Náisiúnta we brought our extremely successful National Suicide Campaign to an end. Over the last few months, yes we have all been engaged in our Anti-Imperialist campaign ARISE, as we see partition and international issues as important in recruiting and educating young people. The popular media is careful to censor these issues from the public domain. However from next month we will again be engaging in a campaign which is quite relevant to young people — Road Safety.
Ógra Shinn Féin in our own local areas is continuously campaigning on issues relevant to young people e.g. misuse of drugs, underage sex, and homelessness. If members are in any doubt about this they can visit the Ógra blogspot. Finally, if in fact a problem exists with a lack of activity, on the part of Ógra, there is a need to greatly increase the membership of Ógra, a task which all Sinn Féin cumainn and Comhairlí Ceantar should engage in to ensure the future of the struggle.
Is mise le meas,
Peadar de Bluit,
Cill Choinnigh

Some leopard spots are not for changing

A chara,
Having now spent a good number of years living in England, Dublin and more recently the north coast of Ireland I have watched with interest how the 11th night and 12th celebrations have been ‘changing’ over the years in the North.
Spokespersons and the media would have us believe that changes towards a more inclusive event are now the new, if you’ll pardon the pun, ‘order’ of the day. Attempts at revisionism of the history of these events even suggest that they were never sectarian. Community funding in the thousands of pounds is now secured to promote events and provide the token football games etc show they have gone ‘cross community’.
This is nothing more than a smokescreen. Thousands of unionist and loyalist flags are still forced on communities against their wishes, painted kerbs still mark out the sectarian territories, again in mixed community areas. Thousands more Irish tricolours are traditionally hoisted on bonfires and shouts of joy erupt as they catch the flames, along with posters and effigies of nationalist/republican representatives and anyone else who fits the ‘fenian’ or ‘taig’ bill. Anyone who intefers receives the traditional threats/actions of physical retaliation, often courtesy of a police message.
Paramilitary flags and shows of strength are not a thing of the past, nor are illegal marches in the middle of the night, with the local police ‘force’ telling nationalists to leave the area, rather than deal with the problem. Crowds of 11th night revellers still ‘visit’ nationalist and republican houses in the early hours to intimidate, cause concern and generally give drunken verbal abuse.
Anyone of you out there who may be fooled by these spokespersons or the media and who are not living in these areas please take note: some leopard spots are definately not for changing.
Valerie Mhic Giolla, Fhinnein,
Co. Derry

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1