Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dublin Ógra delegation visit Catalonia

Ógra Shinn Féin sent a delegation to attend Acamapda Jove, a festival organised by JERC in Catalonia from 15th to 17th of July. JERC (Left Republican Catalan Youth) is the youth wing of Esquerra Republicana. The festival, which is attended by tens of thousands of young Catalonians each year and features many popular bands such as Skatala and Banda Basotti. The most prominent theme of the event was indepedence, aswell as anti-facism, equality and internationalism.

A number of political acts were held over the weekend of events, including the signing of the Declaration of Montblanc, which Daithi Byrne from Dublin signed on behalf of Ógra Shinn Féin. The main points of the declaration were;

  • We show our support for the Independentist Youth, which is currently leading the independentist movement in the Catalan Countries.
  • We express our support for the People's Initiative to hold a referendum in the Principality of Catalonia that will be carried out in the coming months.
  • We demand that the Spanish and French States take the commitment to resolve the political conflict experienced by the Catalan Countries through democratic means and by recognising the right of self-determination of peoples.
  • We reaffirm our commitment, support and solidarity amongst the different Nations without State that want to exercise their right to self determination.

The first Acampada Jove fifteen years ago had two-hundred attendees, but this year it attracted thirty thousand-people thronged to the event located in Montblanc, a medieval town about an hour from Barcelona. The event is one of the most successful projects of the Catalan countries, and results from the collaboration of all young indepedendists. This year, the festival came on the heels of one of the most interesting political contexts in recent times for Catalonia. Throughout 2010, over half a million citizens have been able to excercise their right to decide on their political future in 463 municipalities of the Catalan countries. Daithi Byrne, who attended on behalf of Ógra Shinn Féin said;

"It is an honour to be invited to represent Ógra Shinn Féin at Acampada Jove, only a week after approximately two-million people marched through Barcelona to voice their desire for the self-determination of Catalonia. From the first day of the event I was told of the unfortunate situation that the Spanish Government decided there was no legal basis for recognising Catalonia as a nation, and ruled against Catalan taking precedence over Spanish, therefore preventing children in schools from being taught the native language. The festival itself was fascinating, succeeding as a result of the mixture of music and the desire for Catalonian independence. The crowds which attended the weekend of events were all young and mostly political, and many existing similarities could be seen between JERC and Ógra Shinn Féin, especially the dedication of young activists to suceed in community projects. I think these trips are hugely beneficial not only because of the strong historicial ties between JERC, SEGI, Ógra and others, but also because of the new people one meets, such as the delegates from the YSI (Young Scots for Independence), Gazte Abertzaleak from the Basque country and Darreu from Asturias. I was approached by countless young independists who declared their support for Sinn Féin and its efforts to achieve a united Ireland, as well as the recent Ógra campaign 'Who fears to speak of a united Ireland?'.

Dublin Ógra commemorate Asgard landing at Howth

Dublin Ógra Shinn Féin activists travelled to Howth on Saturday to take part in a day of activities to commemorate the Howth gun-running of 1914.

The significant milestone in Irish history was in response to the arming of the Ulster Volunteers. The weapons, from Hamburg in Germany were to be used to to arm the Irish Volunteers in the run up to the 1916 rising. Nine hundred Mauser rifles 29,000 rounds of ammunition were to prove pivotal in the events of Easter Week.

Dublin Ógra activists from across the county arrived in Howth in the afternoon. Donning replica Irish Volunteers uniforms, they distributed leaflets in English, Irish, Spanish and Polish to the many locals and tourists who had gathered to watch the commemoration take place. After the distribution of thousands of leaflets and the arrival of the Dublin Republican Flute Band, the crowd marched along the East Pier in Howth to the very spot where the Asgard unloaded the arsenal of German weapons on the 26th July, 1914.
The Irish Volunteers were founded after the Tory Party in England joined with the Unionists in North-East Ireland in an armed conspiracy to prevent legislative Home Rule for Ireland. When the First World War broke out at the time of the Howth gun-running Home Rule was postponed.

The skipper of the Asgard was Erskine Childers who later worked for Dáil Éireann and took part in the Treaty negotiations in 1921. He opposed the Treaty and the Partition of Ireland and was executed in 1922 by the Free State government during the Irish Civil War.
When the guns were landed on that day in 1914 they were taken back to Dublin City by the Irish Volunteers. The British Army fired on a crowd of civilians in the city, killing three of them. Every year Ógra Sinn Féin in Dublin commemorates the Asgard landing in celebration of the spirit of Irish freedom, in support of the demand for Irish unity and in remembrance of those who died.