The past year has been one of growth and new energy for the Connolly Youth Movement, as events and successes set a confidently growing momentum. A new branch has come into being in Mullingar and membership has increased all over the six counties with potential new branches in Ballymena and Newcastle, showing the appeal for revolutionary politics exists on both sides of the partition as youth feel the squeeze of health services under attack and the continuing atrophy of career prospects and educational opportunity led by twin neoliberal regimes.
Music has proven an important medium for political expression and rallied young workers and students in an environment of celebration rather than despair. Anti-Fascist music nights have drawn great receptions both in Dublin and Cork, as the Connolly Youth Movement made its stance of opposition to national chauvinism, xenophobia, and politically sanctioned and normalised prejudice both at home and abroad. At the Spailpin Fanach in Cork, the movement joined veteran activists in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in recital and song.
The housing crisis fomented by the policies of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael has overseen an unprecedented surge in the number of rough sleepers. It has forced students into a precarious and unwinnable fight with unscrulupous landlords and cynical rent hikes. The CYM has answered this situation in Cork with the expropriation of a derelict property near UCC to house young workers and students in crisis. This campaign has met with intimidation by the authorities but also broad popular support from the people of the city. This is the beginning of a widespread campaign to develop organic structures of collective ownership to exist parallel with capitalism, laying the first foundations for democratic spaces to supplant it.
The Connolly Youth Society at University College Cork has been the source of exciting events, including a talk given by the Cuban Ambassador Dr. Hermes Herrera Hernández which was attended by over 100 people, as well as continuing film screenings and educational discussions on a range of topics. This theme of bringing revolutionary ideas and lively debate to campus will be continued in 2018 with more prominent speakers and topical films to come. The Dublin branch of the movement has enjoyed success with monthly screenings, beginning with I, Daniel Blake, which have stoked interest in anti-capitalist politics in the capital. The Belfast branch has multiple forthcoming events, including participating in anti-fascist counterprotest to the ethnonationalist sect Britain First, as well as Information sessions to broadcast the presence and activity of the Connolly Youth Movement to a wider audience.
The Connolly Youth Movement has ended its first phase of activity since its refoundation in the early noughties. The organisation has ended this period of regrowth and consolidation, and regained a firm footing with membership and activity across the island. Once again, the CYM is foremost in the minds of young people as they look for support in their confrontations with a ruling class totally deaf to their concerns and intent on maximising their exploitation. This rising trend is a reflection of the growing disillusionment of a generation abandoned by the state, the first to enter life more disadvantaged and more precariously employed than the generation before it. Our movement has faced challenges in establishing itself, but has now come into its role as one of the primary groups in Ireland defending the interests of young workers and students. The CYM has shown its firm militant tradition was not ephemeral, but will continue as long as there are committed socialists within it. As community-based activism and trade union politics return to the fore and the efforts of the movement are tempered by experience, impact will grow exponentially. The Connolly Youth Movement rejects career politics, opportunism and the political compromise that has failed us and led to our current powerlessness in the face of multinational corporations and absent representation. As we prepare for the work ahead, we remember the words of Joe Hill – Don’t Mourn, Organise!