Category Archives: youth culture

Love Parade catastrophe was preventable

Did the organizers stop at nothing for profits?

20 people died in the horrific stampede at the July 24 Love Parade festival in the German city of Duisburg, 500 were injured and, for a time, over 1 000 people were officially listed as missing. The revellers panicked at a tunnel entrance. But, already in the build up to the parade many thought there was a risk of mass panic developing.

By Jan Röder and Sebastian Förster, CWI Germany
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RATM – the music and the politics

Whether it was the songs of Pete Seeger in the 1930s, Bob Dylan in the 1960s or Public Enemy in the 1980s, the mix of politics and music has always struck a chord amongst a layer of young people who are angry and frustrated at the huge poverty, repression and exploitation that exists in the world.  In the 1990s, that honour undoubtedly belonged to Rage Against The Machine. 


By Stephen Rigney, Dublin Socialist Youth

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The Real Miss UCD!

Elisa O’Donovan, Dublin Socialist Youth

UCD Socialist Youth last week set up the Students Against Sexism campaign to protest against the Miss UCD beauty pageant sponsored by UCD Students Union. This beauty pageant is part of the Miss University competition and apart from being sexist, it bans mothers, wives and women under 5ft4 from entering!

The protest held was enormously successful with over 70 students and staff showing their support, along with messages of solidarity from other universities where the pageant had taken place.

The protest began with a speaker from the UCD equality department, highlighting the huge effects beauty pageants have on young women with regards to body image. Second speaker, Ailbhe Smyth, spoke of how acceptable sexism has become in society and how Miss World encourages this as it allows women to be viewed as just objects. The Socialist Youth representative spoke of how the union’s role was to fight for women’s rights on campus, particularly highlighting the lack of decent child care facilities and health facilities on campus. Each speaker was met with a rousing response from the large crowd of students.

Following the speakers there was the Real Miss UCD pageant. All contestants were immediately disqualified as one was too short, the other had two children and the other was too masculine! Eventually a sheep was crowned the real Miss UCD to signify the union following the flock and not standing up for women rights on campus. “There was a great feel about UCD today, students were standing up against discrimination. It was empowering and shows how successful direct action can be” said Sophie Grenham after the demo.

UCD Socialist Youth will now continue its campaign against sexism in UCD and continue the fight to ensure equality for all on campus.

Drimnagh: Revulsion at killings

Kevin McLoughlin

The killing of Pawel Kalite and Marius Szwajkos, unprovoked and vicious – stabbings directly to the head and neck – sent shivers of foreboding through ordinary people. Exactly one week later, the working class community in Drimnagh came out to show its revulsion. The significance of the vigil has been understated by the media. Between three to four thousand people turned out on a particularly wet and windy night.

Packed tightly together, the PA system still couldn’t reach every ear. All ages were present including many young people. It was a very working class demonstration, including many Polish people. A brief statement read by independent socialist councillor Joan Collins on behalf of the residents of Benbulben Road was followed by prayers. Five minutes of silence was respected perfectly. The sombre mood was etched on people’s faces. That the proceedings didn’t give full voice to people’s feelings was reflected by the spontaneous and prolonged applause that erupted from the crowd when they were asked to disperse. Instead of applauding some young people whistled their support for the stand the community had made.

People from working class communities, where anti social behaviour is an issue, would have been shocked but not surprised by this tragedy. That Pawel and Marius were Polish may have increased their vulnerability, but this was primarily a case of mindless anti social behaviour that had no restraints. Young people and drink was an aspect, but it hasn’t been claimed the youth involved were drunk. This sickening violence could have been directed against anyone who didn’t respond as the group of teenagers wanted. These men were attacked doing normal things, at 6.45pm in the evening, beside their home. Crucial questions for the community in Drimnagh and others around the country, are why does such violence erupt and how can it be combated?

No excuses can be made for this attack. The vast majority of young people don’t engage in anti social behaviour but a small minority do and within that minority, a layer is prone to violence. Some young people don’t get the assistance they need to cope with the increased pressures of growing up. Individualism, greed, and false images of what young men or women should be, are pushed again and again.

The education system and social services don’t do enough to stop the brutalisation of some young people and working class communities are paying the price. Incredibly nearly 20% of youth don’t complete secondary education. Time pressures, the decline in the tradition of trade union activity in the workplaces and in communities themselves is reflected by a lack of confidence and democratic community action to cut across these problems.

Community control of the police and policing priorities could also have an effect. However the large turnout at the vigil indicates the potential may exist for an active response to serious anti social behaviour and the conditions that create it.

Opposition mounts against Mosquito device in Omagh

Daniel Waldron

Young people in Omagh have been outraged by the decision of the owner of Serene Treat, a beauty salon, to fit a Mosquito to her premises. This device emits a high-frequency sound which is audible only to people in their early twenties and younger. It is being marketed as a way of dispersing crowds of young people by creating discomfort.

The owner, Kerry McCrory, claims that her business is being hurt because crowds around Café Extreme, next door to her business, which is popular with young people, are engaging in “anti-social behaviour”. In reality, genuinely anti-social behaviour is rare in the area. This device is totally indiscriminate and affects all young people within range, as well as potentially affecting people with some disabilities. McCrory says she will take the Mosquito down if Omagh District Council and the police put in place “more effective” measures, i.e. more draconian measures, to disperse young people. The Council has largely remained silent on the issue.

The device has also met with opposition from parents, who are angered by their children being labelled “trouble makers” simply for hanging out with their friends. Many also acknowledge that Café Extreme provides a space for young people to socialise, which is very rare in Omagh.

Indeed, anti-social behaviour which does exist in the town can be linked to the shocking lack of affordable sports and recreational facilities provided by the Council. Omagh has one of the highest levels of teenage alcoholism in Northern Ireland, which breeds anti-social behaviour.

The use of measures such as this Mosquito demonstrates the increasing criminalisation and marginalisation of young people in our society, the vast majority of whom do not participate in anti-social behaviour. Young people need to organise independently of the right-wing, sectarian parties, who have failed to meet our needs, and fight against reactionary attacks on our rights.

UCD Students’ Union sponsors Miss UCD competition

Elisa O’Donovan, Dublin Socialist Youth

“Want to be the hottest girl on campus?” This was the slogan used to advertise the first Miss UCD beauty pageant, a competiton sponsored by the UCD Students’ Union in conjunction with the Sun and the News of the World.

UCD Students’ Union, like all student unions, should be vehemently opposed to all forms of sexism and be promoting a positive view of women. Beauty pageants are demeaning to women and are an excuse for putting sexism on parade. They encourage the idea that women should be seen as sex objects to be judged by men, as well as making women believe that to be desirable they have to conform to unrealistic types of “beauty”.

Socialist Party members demanded the immediate withdrawal of support for this so-called competition by the Students’ Union. In response the student union officials justified holding this sexist pageant by running it as a charity event for the primary immunodeficiency association; a charity that helps mothers and fathers cope with raising a child with an incurable paediatric condition.

It is ironic that in order to raise money to help struggling families, UCD Students’ Union has to resort to using a competition that bans mothers and wives from entering! Along with this the competiton banned all women under 5’4”!

South: Contraception – Why isn’t it free?

By Cian Prendiville, Limerick Socialist Youth

In January’s Finance Bill VAT on condoms was lowered from 21% to 13.5%. Any reduction should be welcomed, the crucial question is why, given the problems with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), is there VAT on condoms, or indeed why are they not free?

The VAT cut got some mixed reactions. As could be expected the Catholic Church was up in arms against it. The Union of Students in Ireland simply welcomed the reduction and called for the VAT to be reduced to 5%, unfortunately accepting the logic that there must be VAT and a price tag on safer sex.

This is at a time when according to one survey, 40% of students didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex. This is particularly worrying given the growing problems of STIs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea  and HIV. Between 1998 and 2003 the reported number of STIs increased by almost 400%.

Yet despite this condoms are more expensive in Ireland than most other parts of the EU, with companies such as Durex and Mates making billions. It is the height of hypocrisy that the government can claim to be trying to tackle the spread of STIs and yet allow this profiteering to take place.

As well as this there is a shocking lack of decent, non-judgmental sex education for young people. In report after report there are stories of teenagers not using condoms correctly or following myths such as “you can’t get pregnant if its her first time”. In order to tackle STIs and unplanned pregnancies, sex education, free contraception, STI tests and treatment must be provided without stigma or judgment to all.