Republican News · Thursday 4 September 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Irish and Basque youth links planned

A visit from Jarrai, the Basque youth movement, to Sinn Féin Youth has strengthened growing links between the two groups.

Following a Sinn Féin Youth visit to Euskal Herria (Basque Country) last March, members of Jarrai visited Ireland during August. The trip, organised as a fact finding mission, is the first in a series of delegations being organised by the two groups over the coming year.

Focusing on the current situation of Irish youth in general and republican youth in particular, Jarrai travelled across the Six Counties and to Dublin in a hectic fortnight of meetings, tours, and other political activities.

txon Livaitz, of Jarrai's National Committee, explained the reasons for the visit: ``our objectives were firstly to use the visit to get to know the reality of the political situation in Ireland and especially the situation of Irish youth, and secondly to break the information block that the Spanish State has built around the Basque Country and to explain to Irish people the reality of our conflict.

``We also wanted to reinforce our relationship with Sinn Fein Youth. During our visit we explored a number of ways in which our two organisations can work together and learn from each other, helping to build our individual struggles and build international solidarity''.

Reflecting on his experience in Ireland Livaitz said, ``I have seen the reality of a war in Ireland, a real war in the context of Europe. It is true that there is a ceasefire but still I can see the reality of occupation and military repression. It has been particularly interesting for me to see the republican movement's peace strategy at work''.

On the similarities between the two conflicts the Jarrai delegate spoke about political prisoners, ``all our prisoners live under very hard life conditions, but I have been impressed by the important role which prisoners give to the struggle, as at home they play a vital part''.

Livaitz also praised the spirit of community which he witnessed everywhere he visited.

Sinn Fein Youth activist Niall O'Murchu said that the delegation was of great importance to''the development of the republican youth movement. We have a lot to learn from Jarrai. Sinn Féin Youth and Jarrai are examining a number of possibilities for working together, particularly in a European and International context where resources and strengths could be effectively pooled''.

The delegation began in Belfast with two days of meetings. Jarrai met with youth workers in Beechmount, young people from West Belfast, the Young Tongues project, and Sinn Fein Youth activists involved in last year's visit to the United Nations. In addition, a political briefing from Pat Rice of Sinn Fein's international department, and a tour of West Belfast with local councillor Tom Hartley were among the highlights.

The rest of the week was spent in Derry, South Armagh and West Tyrone.

The delegation also travelled to Dublin where they received a political briefing from Ard Comhairle representative Ann Speed, and Bernie Farrell of the POW department. Jarrai also met with community drugs workers and former heroin addicts in Ringsend.

The second week included visits to both Long Kesh and Maghaberry to meet POWs Joe Doherty, Harry Maguire and Martina Anderson.

Other meetings included a series of briefings from community projects in West Belfast dealing with issues such as drugs and the welfare state.

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