24 January 2008 Edition
Upbeat Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress
YOUNG republican delegates from across Ireland and representatives of international youth movements mobilised in Dublin last weekend to take part in a packed and upbeat ninth Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams delivered the main address and helped launch Ógra’s new drugs and alcohol campaign called NARC (Not Another Ravaged Community) campaign.
The Sinn Féin president told the young audience that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland.
“The Lisbon Treaty, like many of the treaties that went before it, does not deliver reform, efficiency or democracy. It is a bad deal for Ireland. We deserve and can achieve better.”
On Friday night, Dublin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh welcomed delegates and chaired a debate on the encroaching Lisbon Treaty.
Following a lively and engaging discussion exploring exciting and innovative ways to bring the campaign to Irish citizens, delegates then dealt with motions on the peace process, environment and Europe.
Delegates then attended a video showing on the Basque struggle, which was a prelude to a discussion on the importance of internationalism.
Eoin Ó Broin opened proceedings on Saturday morning. The first national organiser of Sinn Féin Youth (from 1997 to 1998) said that the seriousness and level of debate at the Ógra congress is what sets it apart from other youth wings.
A new introduction to the National Congress was workshops. Topics included policing, building a mass youth movement, gender equality, the Lisbon Treaty, community engagement, the Irish language, and education.
Before activists broke for lunch, Lou, a member of the Save Tara campaign, addressed the importance of mobilising against the state’s attack of our national heritage.
A statement was then read out from the republican POWs which thanked Ógra activists for their solidarity actions. Jim ‘Flash’ McVeigh, the last O/C of the IRA prisoners in Long Kesh, read out the statement.
Gerry Adams then delivered the leadership address. He paid tribute to the campaigning work of Ógra and urged activists to lead a vigorous and innovative campaign for a ‘No’ vote in the referendum.
He also welcomed the NARC campaign being undertaken by Ógra, saying that whilst illegal drugs are having a detrimental effect on communities, we also need to focus on the huge problems associated with alcohol abuse.
Following the leadership address, cuige organisers gave their reports to the congress. The organisers reported back a steady level of activism throughout Ireland and also informed Ógra of numerous new cumainn set up throughout the cuige areas in the last year. Indeed, these cumainn were represented at the congress.
During the International Section there were addresses by Segi (Basque), Jerc (Catalan) and Gi (Corsica). They spoke of the importance and inspiration that Ireland remains to them and all received a standing ovation.
The Ógra Shinn Féin National Organiser Barry McColgan spoke of the growth and professionalisation of Ógra over the past year.
“In the past year, Ógra have continued to drive forward a radical agenda, building a mass republican youth movement that can and will effect necessary change across this country,” Barry said.
“In the past year, our organisation has strengthened, our activism has increased and as a result we are now without doubt the most visible, fastest-growing and impacting youth movement on this island.”
He said that Ógra has professionalised its organisation over the past year, greatly increasing the output of news, especially on the BlogSpot which now receives on average 500 hits daily, producing top-quality films on issues ranging from republican youth to the Basque struggle. Ógra also launched a new national website and have continued circulation of Glór na nÓg. Barry ended his address by saying:
“The past year has been a hectic, difficult yet rewarding one. We need to step up our actions and further the growth created. It is very realisable that next year we will launch a further 12 cumainn and double our membership if every activist implements a simple logic of recruiting one member each.”
“The NARC campaign, an extremely engaging campaign on an extremely important issue, can assist in this greatly. So let’s turn our words and thoughts here today into unstoppable action. Let us campaign, recruit and educate and be a shining light to all those who have gone before us. Let us be the generation that sees the rising of the moon!
“Tiocfaidh ár lá!”
Ógra launches NARC anti-drugs campaign
ÓGRA Shinn Féin’s new national campaign, NARC – Not Another Ravaged Community, highlights the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse on communities. The campaign will be the focus of Ógra activity over the next six months.
Speaking at the launch of the multi-faceted campaign on Saturday, outgoing National Campaigns Officer Peadar de Bluit said that the overall objective of the campaign is to publicise it, particularly through local launches where Ógra is active.
Ógra will also be lobbying local authorities and activists are asked to become involved with local community groups engaging with the epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse in their areas.
“We want to ensure that Ógra activists are at the coalface of tackling drug and alcohol abuse across the 32 Counties,” Peadar said.
“Activists are being asked to undertake a lot in the name of this campaign. However, if we commit ourselves to contributing as much as we can to this campaign, the benefits to communities across the country will make our efforts worthwhile.
“Tá carn mór obair le déanamh ag an uile duine againn san am atá le teacht. Is ceist an-mhór í ceist mí-úsáid drugaí is alcól sa phobail, le tús an fheachtas seo áfach táimidne in Ógra Shinn Féin á rá go soiléir nach bhfuilimid sásta cur suas leis a thuilleadh.
“Má chuirimid isteach an obair sin ní cur amú a bheidh ann insan méid a bhainimid amach ag deireadh an fheachtas. Ní neart go cur le chéile.”