Symbolically it was probably fitting that building work was taking place in the Irish Republican Felons Association’s club this weekend; it was the venue for the Ógra Shinn Féin National Congress. A lot of building work is going on within our party too!
It was clear from the few events I attended over the weekend that Ógra are to the fore of this building work.
On Saturday afternoon I ventured over the bridge and into Castle Street where I bounced into a Black Hack and took the journey to the Felons. I was met at the door by outgoing National Organiser of Ógra Barry McColgan, he looked every bit the busy man. I was looking forward to the debate being held inside, ‘Ireland’s Future? Free, Green and Left.’ (I would have added ‘Gaelach’ to the title, possibly an oversight on the part of Ógra) Eoin O’Broin from Sinn Féin, fellow east Belfast man Steven Agnew from the Green Party and Dónal Lyons from Labour were to lead the debate; sadly Dónal sent his apologies.
I’m sure Ógra will cover the content of the debate on their own blog and I know that they also videoed it, so it’s probably better that I don’t venture into too much of the details other than to say it was a worthwhile debate and I think a necessary aspect of any event of this kind, definitely something Ógra should look to build upon in the coming years. I think it’s fair to say Steven Agnew took a lot of flack on the current standing of the Green’s in the 26 Counties, I don’t think he had expected anything less!
That evening it was back over the bridge, this time to the city centre and this time in the company of Alex Maskey. We were attending the celebration dinner in honour of 100 years of na Fianna Éireann. Gearóid Ó hEara was the main speaker and spoke of the role of na Fianna over it’s century of history. It was an emotional evening, given the vast amount of families of those Fianna who were in attendance; each one receiving a presentation on behalf of Ógra, a tremendous gesture and I think worthy of special recognition; maith sibh Ógra!!
All in all, for the small amount of events I was able to attend I was hugely impressed by the work ongoing in Ógra, it was fair to say that in the Felons on Saturday afternoon there was over 100 young people from across Ireland in attendance. Ógra have a vital role to play both within our party and within the wider struggle; I wish all of those who attended this year’s Congress (no doubt some of them being new to our party) all the best for the future and look forward to working with them in pursuit of our Republican objectives.