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May Day for my new Young Guns: Republicans need a youth movement that has clout

(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

I'm commemorating this May Day Holiday by launching an all-island youth movement, Saighdiuiri oga na hEireann De (The Young Irish Soldiers of Ireland).

Sonhed will seek to make amends for the historical disaster and cultural embarrassment which nationalism's traditional youth wing, Fianna na hEireann has deteriorated into.

Sonhed's spark has been created by deputy First Minister Marty McGuinness' confusing, amusing and bemusing speech at this year's Shinner shindig in the South.

An intended wise-cracking broadside against dissident terrorists turned into a pondering session of 'what age can someone actually join the IRA given that TD Gerry Adams once stated – they haven't gone away, you know?'

One of the major problems for mainstream republicans is that the peace process has thrown up a new generation of Sinn Féin 'draft dodgers' who have never traditionally cut their political teeth in the Provos.

Would-be IRA terrorists were not sworn in and given their notorious wee green book of rules until they hit 17.

In reality, all the Fianna did was take groups of young republican hardmen off to the bogs of Ireland to teach them how to throw stones properly.

The loyalists had their cultural and historical heritage drummed into them at a much earlier age with groups such as the Junior Orange Order, Young Militants (UDA youth wing) and the Young Citizen Volunteers (junior UVF).

And in the Seventies, primary and secondary school age loyalists formed Tartan Gangs, named after three Scottish squaddies murdered in an IRA 'honey trap.'

The Tartans rampaged through the peace lines kicking the crap out of any Catholics they found.

Top Stormont Shinner Marty has always maintained he quit the Provos in the early Seventies. But his dissidents jibe at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis has sent many republicans into confusion over his sums. They simply don't add up!

Marty bellowed at the conference: "Every now and again, you'll see these so-called republicans parading.

"And I look and I see these 50-year-olds, and I see these 40-year-olds, and I see these 45-year-olds, and I don't recognise most of them. You know what I wonder; I wonder where they were when there was a war."

Taking McGuinness' analysis, and when he claims he resigned from the Provos, some of "these 50-year-olds" must have been primary school kids aged 11 when they were supposed to be active IRA members!

But if you can't become an IRA terrorist until 17, how could they have been in the Provos at 11? Someone in the republican movement has seriously screwed up their recruitment figures, or else someone has not got it correct when they quit the IRA.

My new organisation, Sonhed, will seek to rectify this problem by recruiting young nationalists as soon as they able to walk and talk.

It will restore pride into the term republican, so that it is not another word for bomber, gunman and murderer.

Sonhed will be a uniformed organisation like the Boys' and Girls' Brigade movements, but will combine Christian teaching with Irish cultural and historical identity.

The ethos will be that never again must republicans ever resort to the gun as a means of settling political quarrels.

Republicans mouth off that their victory will be the laughter of their children. How can they say this if they don't have an effective youth organisation to channel this laughter?

Sonhed is that solution.

May 7, 2013

This article appeared in the May 6, 2013 edition of the Irish Daily Star.



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