Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ógra Shinn Féin launch Youth Manifesto

23 November, 2003


Letter From Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin is an Irish republican party. We are a party of radical change. We are an all Ireland party. We are the fastest growing political party in Ireland, and the only party with a strategy for the reunification of our country.

As republicans we are totally committed to ending inequality and to bringing about a society where all are treated equally. We have been leading the way for change in our communities, in political institutions and in the negotiations. We have stood up to the rejectionists, inside and outside of government and we will continue to do so.

Are you interested in politics? Do you want to have a say in how your life is run? Do you believe that the politicians in charge are representing your interests properly? Five years after the publication of the Good Friday Agreement do you, as a young person, feel more included in the political life of your country?

These are just some of the important questions facing you in the upcoming election.

This manifesto has been produced by Ogra Shinn Féin. It has been produced by young people, for young people. It sets out the commitments of young republicans.

If you want to know more about Sinn Féin and our policies, or join the party, why not log onto our new web site www.sinnfein.ie

Remember your voice can be heard — but only if you make it. I am asking you on November 26th to use your vote and to vote Sinn Féin.

Is Mise

Gerry Adams

Introduction

Ógra Shinn Féin is the most vibrant and radical youth wing of any political party in Ireland. We are dedicated to bringing about revolutionary social change, ensuring youth rights and culture are respected, challenging corruption and imperalism at home and abroad and achieving the freedom of our country.

Is e Ógra Shinn Féin an t-aon pháirtí uile-Éireannach agus tá sé mar idhm againn poblacht daonlatach 32-contae a bhunú agus deireadh a chuir le riail Shasana in Éireann.

Through protest action, political discussions and international solidarity we campaign on issues that matter to young people' in particular:-

  • Irish re-unification
  • Globalisation
  • Youth rights
  • Minimum Wage
  • Car Insurance
  • Environment
  • Anti-racism and anti-sectarianism

Irish Unity and Independence

Ógra Shinn Féin is an Irish repubican party. We are working to bring about Irish Unity and Independence. Ógra Shinn Féin will be part of the generation that will see freedom, justice and a lasting peace in Ireland.

Ógra Shinn Féin is campaigning for:

  • The building of a broad alliance for Irish Unity;
  • A Green paper on Irish Unity;
  • Radical social and economic change;
  • Expansion of the all-Ireland agenda.

Five Years of British and Unionist Stalling must end

The Good Friday Agreement heralded a new political dispensation on this island. For the first time, people were promised a real say in how our lives were governed. The Agreement opened the way to all Ireland development and real change on the equality, human rights and economic and social justice fronts.

For the last five years we have had ongoing loyalist attacks and the Unionists and the British government have been stalling and blocking the implementation of the Agreement. This failure to stand by the Agreement has created a lot of anger among young people.

It is important that we do not become disillusioned, change cannot be prevented. The Agreement must be implemented in all its aspects. And Sinn Féin will continue to be at the forefront of the campaign for change.

Ógra Shinn Féin is demanding:

  • Full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement;
  • An end to the the governments reneging on their commitments;
  • Full equality for all.

Education

Education is a human right, and should be open and accessible to all. Ógra Shinn Féin is demanding :

  • The abolition of the 11 plus;
  • Widespread change in the structure of our education system;
  • Equality for all forms of education, and in particular Irish language and integrated schools;
  • The re-introduction of student grants;
  • The abolition of student fees;
  • Increased provision of third level places to people from low income backgrounds and other excluded groups.

Homelessness

Homelessness and housing shortages are a problem which affect many young people.

Ógra Shinn Féin believes that:

  • The present running down of the Housing Executive must come to an end;
  • The Housing Executive should become the main provider of new social housing and increase its new build programme substantially;
  • The Housing Executive should have a greater focus on the needs of young families and single people.

Employment

We are constantly told that employment is on the increase, and that there is a reduction in the numbers of those out of work. However what they are not telling you is that the way in which unemployment statistics are counted has changed 11 times since 1997. The present figures mask the real level of unemployment in our society, especially among young people.

Ógra Shinn Féin demands:

  • A more focused strategy for developing employment at a local level;
  • An increase in the minimum wage for 18-21 year olds into line with that received by over 21s;
  • The development of social economy projects which meet the needs of local people while providing sustainable employment in the long term;
  • Additional funds to develop employability training programs in niche market industries such as music, film and television, multi media design and fashion. Such initiatives would enable young people to access the skills necessary for participation in some of the worlds last remaining expanding markets.

Crime

Crime is a serious issue in our society. However young people are often criminalised as the sole problem, particularly in term of anti social behaviour. This should not be the case, indeed young people have an active role to play in combating issues such as anti-social activity.

Ógra Shinn Féin is demanding:

  • Substantial resources to be invested in youth education and leadership programmes;
  • Training for young people to lead youth peer education and self esteem programs, we want to play a vital role in transforming local communities into safer and cleaner districts.

Policing & Demilitarisation

Young people in nationalist areas have born the brunt of unjust and violent policing for many years. Ógra Shinn Féin was at the forefront of the campaign to disband the RUC and remain committed to campaigning to achieve the new beginning to policing promised in the Agreement.

Ógra Shinn Féin are demanding:

  • The removal of the British war machine from our country;
  • The end of British Army and PSNI harassment of young people, and young republicans in particular.

Access to Political Institutions

If young people are to play a full part in the political life of our country then we need to see our political institutions and politics open up and become more accessible to young people. Too often political institutions are seen as the preserve of middle class men in dull grey suits, with little or no knowledge of young people and our needs and aspirations.

Ógra Shinn Féin believes that:

  • The voting age should be lowered to 16;
  • All political institutions should have shadow youth assemblies or councils;
  • Political and civic education should become core subjects in the school curriculum from 13 years and up.

Equality

Equality cannot be a meaningful aspiration, it must become a reality for all. Young people must have equality of opportunity and outcome in all aspects of life. Anything short of that is unacceptable.

Ógra Shinn Féin is demanding:

  • An equality minister and department in the new Assembly and in each local government body;
  • Measures to reduce the cost of car insurance for young drivers;
  • Proper resourcing to ensure that the Equality Commission is made accessible to young people;
  • A Minister for Children and Young People.

Sectarianism & Racism

In the recently published 'A Shared Future' Document there was not one single substantive reference to young people and our experience of sectarianism. Likewise in the recently passed race Relations Act (NI) young peoples concerns and needs, especially second generation young people, were almost completely ignored. Sectarianism and Racism need to be viewed as structural forms of discrimination which permeate our society in all its aspects, and which have specific effects on specific groups of people.

Ógra Shinn Féin believes that tackling the root causes of racism and sectarianism require:

  • A root and branch change to the institutional structure of our society, so that all people irrespective of race or religion have equal access to services, employment, resources, rights and entitlements;
  • Funding and empowering minority ethnic communities and good relations organisations is a vital part of this as real equality cannot be imposed from above but must be built from the grass roots up

Globalisation

Our society is becoming increasingly globalised. This brings many advantages but also many disadvantages. The globalisation of corporate culture and imposition of a bland, homogeneous and consumer led culture is not in the interests of our society, its culture or indeed our young people.

Ógra Shinn Féin believes that:

  • Internationalism is the real alternative to corporate globalisation;
  • The globalisation of human rights and social equality is the way forward;
  • Developing World debt must be scrapped;
  • Global financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank must be shut down and replaced with democratically accountable developmental agencies under the control of the United Nations.

Arts & Culture

For too long arts and culture have been relegated to the status of poor cousin to other areas of social and public policy. This needs to change. Young people have a right to express themselves and have access to the variety of artistic and cultural mediums which the arts have to offer. These practices must not be the right of the privileged few.

Ógra Shinn Féin believes that:

  • Arts and cultural education must be mainstreamed throughout all school ciricula;
  • Adequate resourcing is provided to ensure that all young people have a real option of training in a wide variety of cultural forms;
  • Employment schemes and resources must be made available for emerging and established arts;
  • Cultural organisations need to ensure that our local talent has the choice of staying here rather than emigrating for lack of opportunities at home.

Sport & Leisure

Like arts and culture Sports and Leisure are often relegated down the funding ladder by government. This has to change. More resources are needed to ensure that all young people have equal access to sports education and facilities and leisure facilities within local communities.

Ógra Shinn Féin supports:

  • A more serious approach to the issues of sport and leisure by local and regional government;
  • An all Ireland international soccer team;
  • Equitable funding for the GAA.

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