by Paul Murphy
Over 40 young people attended Socialist Youth’s fifth annual youth festival in Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow at the end of August. Yet again, it was a major success, enjoyed by all who attended. One of the notable features was the number of members attending for the first time.
One of these, Philip Lynn (Ballymena SY) commented:
“I thought it was very good, very educational. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on sexism because it was an issue I hadn’t given that much thought to before. It was good to meet other members from around the country, and it was a good bit of craic.”
Gearoid McLoughlin (Galway SY), said: “I really enjoyed having in depth discussions with members from different branches, as well as good theoretical debates on topics such as the Russian revolution.”
At the opening rally on Friday night, Joe Higgins spoke about the unfolding crisis in the world economy and the increasing attacks on workers’ and young people’s rights internationally. This rally set the tone for the weekend, which was one of discussions with a purpose – arming ourselves to fight the attacks of capitalism and for a socialist society.
The debate on Saturday night between Paddy Meehan (Belfast SY) and Anne Reilly of the Debt and Development Coalition tackled the issue of “Africa: How can debt and poverty be challenged?”
While Anne was very critical of the major powers’ role in enslaving the continent in poverty, she emphasised the need for us to try to make a difference today, by putting pressure on government leaders. SY members argued that those with a vested interesting in keeping Africa poor would not assist the African people, but were able to point to the magnificent recent displays of workers’ power in massive strikes in Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria to show the force that is capable of lifting the continent out of slavery.
Some of the most successful discussions over the weekend were: “Depression & Mental health: How can the crisis be ended?”, “Fight for your rights at work!” and “Religious beliefs: why do they still exist?”.
On Saturday afternoon, the sun shone allowing Dublin SY to take on the world in a rounders match that was competitively fought until an over enthusiastic swing put the ball in the trees! “The Barrytown Wheelies” ran away with the table quiz on Saturday night, yet, as Kevin Coughlan (Cork SY) put it, despite his team coming second last, it was “a good laugh” nonetheless.
The event ended with an inspiring rally about the need to build a socialist youth movement. This is an event that should be in every young socialist’s calendar next year.