By Conor Payne, Dublin Socialist Youth
On the 21 and 28 July, Socialist Youth hosted “Resistance”, a series of forums for young people around the South to discuss and debate socialist ideas.
The events were held in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. These were very successful with around 150 mostly young people attending overall. All the forums began with a debate. In Dublin and Cork, Socialist Youth members debated the Greens on the subject of how the environmental crisis can be solved. Challenged on their decision to enter government with Fianna Fail and the PDs, the Greens argued that there was no other way to ensure action was taken on urgent environmental issues, such as global warming.
Socialist Youth pointed out the link between global warming and the profit system that puts the interests of the fossil fuel industries and big business in general above the interests of people and the environment. To really fight against environmental crisis, we need to challenge this system and that can‘t be done in government with pro-big business parties.
The Greens claimed to agree with us on other issues such as privatisation, the use of Shannon Airport by the US military and Rossport! Yet they have sold out on all of this issues in government.
In Limerick and Galway, we debated the Young PDs, who argued that the free market was the solution to and not the cause of problems such as poverty, war and environmental crisis and argued the case for “socially responsible capitalism”.
Socialist Youth argued that from Irish Ferries’ attacks on workers’ wages and conditions to war for oil being fought in Iraq, capitalism is never socially responsible and always puts the lust for profit above all other concerns.
All four events included a discussion on the life of Che Guevara and the struggle for socialism in Latin America. Resistance was a great success with many young people indicating they wanted to join Socialist Youth.
Michelle Dempsey – Student Nurse
“The event was great as it talked about things that matter like workers’ rights, anti-sectarianism and cuts in the NHS.”
James Higgins – Student
“I thought the event was really interesting. It was good to see someone addressing the topic of climate change. With a lot of people at attending it made for some important discussion.”
Gemma Foster, 19, young worker from Dublin
“The discussion on young workers’ rights was of big interest to me. This is because I’ve been in a situation of not getting my rights at work and getting ripped off and it was great to see that someone was fighting for young workers. I was also interested in the issue of the environmental crisis.
“I liked that in the young workers’ rights discussion if you asked a question you got really good answers on how you can fight to get your rights in the workplace.
“I was working for a big supermarket chain that’s obviously really profitable. The pay was ridiculous – €3.75 an hour for under 18’s. You had to work overtime and it was unpaid overtime. The manager used bullying tactics to intimidate us, threatening to give us a bad reference for example.”
Marta, 19, Bolivia
“I find it incredibly interesting to come across a socialist movement in Ireland and Europe in general. This movement is a reflection that we live in a world with problems. Society is still developing. Socialism is the best way to direct it.
“In Bolivia our government is supposed to be socialist. They have good intentions but our biggest problem is still with the multinationals and it’s a big struggle that’s still happening.
“It’s amazing that Socialist Youth is concerned with the problems all around the world and knows about Bolivia and Latin America as well as fighting on the issues here in this country.”
What do you think of the Socialist Youth “Resistance” event in Dublin?
“The Resistance event to me was a very proactive, educating event to raise awareness concerning Important and undeniable aspects of the effects that the capitalist system has on the world such as the environment, workers rights, Latin America. In my opinion, it was a great event, it allowed the youth to be involved in the greater discussion concerning their country and beyond.”
Mira, 21, Palestine
How did you become active in Palestine?
“Living in a country torn by occupation like Palestine, it’s inevitable that you become an activist and fight against the oppression faced by your people in any way you can. I have been an activist for about five years now – becoming a social-political activist has been one of the most enlightening experiences in my life, it has taught me a lot and has motivated me to continue the struggle towards freedom alongside the oppressed of the world.”
Can you describe the conditions facing Palestinians living in the occupied territories?
“The Palestinian population living in the occupied territories suffer day to day human rights abuses, especially in terms of the lack of freedom of movement (there are about 420 military checkpoints in the West Bank). The people of Palestine are terrorised on a daily basis by the Israeli occupation, we suffer from lack of freedom of speech, education, resistance and most of all a free, safe life.
“But on the other hand, the Palestinian people are, on a daily basis, fighting against occupation despite all of the obstacles that we face, that are nowadays increasing. We are fighting for our freedom, because at the end of the day, the Palestinian people are not terrorists and they are not victims -, they are survivors.”