Article from the Feb. 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Socialist Youth - campaigning North and South

Education cuts start to BITE

by Aideen McMullen Belfast Socialist Youth

The effects of the cutbacks in education spending are already being felt. In early January, one young student fell down a dangerous slope and broke his leg at La Salle school in West Belfast.

The slope had been left exposed because of cuts. Plans to build safety fencing had to be abandoned as the board allowed only emergency maintenance. If this sort of incident is already happening and the safety of young students is at risk, surely these cutbacks have to be stopped.

If the government had put a fraction of the money that they spent on the war in Iraq into education here, this situation would never have arisen.

Education boards in Northern Ireland have overspent on their budgets due to government cut backs and an increase in oil prices. Fortunately many children with special needs are moving increasingly into mainstream education, so surely the government should increase budgets for education boards to be able to cope with the needs of all their students.

Three of the boards have agreed to implement these cuts, including the Belfast Education and Library Board.

Socialist Youth held pickets of the Belfast and Western Boards in late December. On 1 Feb the Belfast Board held a meeting to discuss potential cutbacks in libraries. NIPSA held a picket of the meeting, at which Socialist Youth intervened.

Because of the public pressure, that they are coming under against cuts in libraries, the Board backtracked on their plans to close at least seven Belfast libraries. This shows that pressure and protest action can get results.

Socialist Youth calls for students, parents and staff to stand up against the cuts, alongside a campaign of industrial action by the trade union movement to force the government to provide adequate funding for decent education for all.

Youth Radicalism dead? They wish!

by Paul Murphy, Dublin Socialist Youth

IN THE last week, journalists from both the Sunday Tribune and RTE have repeated the trite statement that youth radicalism is dead. Former so-called radicals like Pat Rabbitte were trotted out to lament the death of youth and student activism! Even supposedly left-wing students' union leaders like Fergal Doran of UCD declared that "We have tried to get students to protest and they just don't."

What a load of crap! Over the past four years, we have seen the first school student strikes and walkouts in decades, during the teachers' strike and then again in protest against the war in Iraq. Young people have been at the forefront of all of the protests of millions of people worldwide against the war and occupation of Iraq.

Third level students managed to push back the government's plans for re-introduction of full fees by protesting in their thousands as well as organising blockades, occupations and lecture boycotts. Even in the battle against the bin tax, young people were to the fore. David Murphy, a 19 year old student, spent three weeks in Mountjoy for protesting against the double tax!

As for the Students' Unions leaders - is it any wonder they are unable to mobilise their membership for protest? The leader of the USI is a right-wing Tory. These mis-leaders have no faith in the power of students and are therefore unable to outline a bold strategy for victory on any issue, which would be able to convince students of the necessity of taking action.

It is no coincidence that every clip of recent protests in the "News 2" piece featured Socialist Youth prominently. Because we know that young people do have power, we are able to make relevant arguments about why they should take action on important issues and mobilise people for protest.

Campaigning against the economic tsunami

by Kevin Henry, Omagh Socialist Youth

SOCIALIST YOUTH's new campaign demanding the cancellation of world debt has had an impact in the aftermath of the tsunami.

Our stalls have provoked a lot of discussion. We have challenged the belief that no one was to blame. We explained that tsunamis can be predicted if proper equipment was in place, but instead the ruling classes pour millions into military spending.

We also called for aid to be placed under democratic control and to be fairly distributed. Aceh on the northern edge of Sumatra has registered nearly two-thirds of the total death toll by the Asian tsunami.

The Acehnese so far have received only 30% of UN food deliveries. This will only serve to stir up further racial tension in the area. We also reminded people of the fact that Africa experiences a tsunami scale economic disaster every week! The campaign has reinforced the fact of the unequal world we live in and will hopefully draw people to socialist conclusions.

Campaigning for Socialism

by Cillian Gillespie, Dublin Socialist Youth

THE TSUNAMI that took the lives of over 250,000 people many of whom died needlessly because there was no early warning system, and the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed the brutal nature of international capitalism.

Capitalism and its political representatives place the pursuit of profit and wealth above everything including the lives of billions around the world. The relentless pursuit of profit at all costs has brought our planet to the verge of its greatest ever mass extinction. Only this time it is a human made disaster that is destroying life on earth. Humanity literally has no future under capitalism.

Yet the world doesn't have to be this way. Working class and young people can build a socialist world in which the resources and wealth of our planet can be used for the benefit of all and to protect our environment.

This is the message that members of Socialist Youth have been bringing on to the streets of Dublin. We have been organising information stalls aimed at getting the ideas of socialism out to young people. We have had a brilliant response. On one stall 12 young people expressed an interest in joining Socialist Youth within the space of an hour.

Socialist Youth believes that socialism represents the only alternative to capitalism. There is no half way house between the two. Capitalism cannot be tamed or regulated for the benefit of working class people. It has to be overthrown and replaced with a socialist society run for the needs of people not the profits of a tiny elite.

We urge all young people who are sick of the rule of the multinational parasites and warmongers that dominate our world to join Socialist Youth in the struggle for a socialist future today.

Strabane needs real jobs

by Brian McNulty Strabane Socialist Youth

ON THE surface the image of Strabane has improved a little over the past year. But only on the surface.

A number of businesses, with much backslapping from their friends in Sinn Fein and SDLP, have benefited from schemes that do not provide real jobs.

Strabane, particularly its young people, have been promised an arts centre, more computing courses and workskills initiatives.

All this is fine except that it means nothing without the thing young people in Strabane need before anything else - stable employment.

No schemes are of any benefit if no future employment exists, nor will they magically create long term employment.

Why do the mainstream parties not face the real bread and butter issues rather than prostituting themselves with so-called reform and improvement programmes that really amount to nothing for the majority of young and even older people?

Why I joined

Eoghan Stakelum, Cork

BASICALLY, I was already a socialist before I joined. I got socialist beliefs from my father when I was young. However, most of my socialist ideas had been overshadowed by republicanism. I was in Sinn Fein when I was younger, but I got disillusioned with the rightward road they were taking and left, as did most of the members of my Cumann. After that, I wasn't involved in politics for a few years.

My girlfriend persuaded me to go to the meeting in UCC of the Socialist Party on Societies' Day. I originally thought it was some sort of social-democratic party. But I was really impressed by the whole ideology behind the party and the international aspect to it as well. I realised the narrow-mindedness of SF ideology, which ignored the wider class struggle. It didn't take me long to decide to join after that!

Socialist Youth - other reports of campaigns, etc.

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