Sinn Fein vs UK Youth Parliament?

In response to this thoughtless blog post: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2010/10/sinn-fein-member-of-uk-youth-parliament.html A difficult one to right as I would have just been happy using many four-letter expletives.

On the 29th of October 2010, for the second time, Members of the UK Youth Parliament sat and debated on the famous green benches in the House of Commons at Westminster. They are the only group of people, other than elected MPs, to ever do so. A great honour, and a privalage to be allowed to do so.

Only it seems as though the great work of all MYPs, those who led the debates, those who spoke and those who didn’t, has been overlooked by people such as Iain Dale, who seem intent on belittling those who spoke. I speak of Connor Morgan, MYP for Mid Ulster in Northern Ireland and member of Sinn Fein, a Member who gave a passionate, well thought out and overall awesome speech regarding university tuition fees. The fact he is a member of a political party at all is irrelevant, as UKYP is not affiliated with party politics. The issue seems to be surrounding Connor’s choice of party. That how can any member of Sinn Fein, elected MP or otherwise, sit, let alone speak, in the House of Commons when they won’t swear the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. That why should Connor be any different, and is he crossing a line by doing so. In the nicest possible way, Iain Dale, get over yourself.

Yes, Connor is a member of Sinn Fein, so what? Get over it. People have their own preferences. Get over it. Not everyone agrees with everyone else. Get over it. He is also a Member of Youth Parliament, and who he decides to put a cross next to in the polling booth has absolutely nothing to do with the work he does for the young people who voted for him (and those who didn’t). Because UK Youth Parliament isn’t about party politics, its about making a change and getting your voice heard.

It is a real shame that people have to demean the hard work of people, without actually doing their research. If Connor had entered the chamber, intent on broadcasting his party to the world, then yes, I’m sure there would be reason to cause a stir. But he didn’t. It makes you wonder if these people, these small-minded people, actually watch the debates, or even know exactly what the Youth Parliament actually does. Because with all due respect, if you did know, then there wouldn’t be an issue.

Aside from that, it is unbelievable and actually in some ways, extremely creepy, that you wasted your own time looking at Connor’s profile to deliberately pick out “evidence” to use against him, to supposedly back up your argument. In fact, I think many young people, MYP or not, will find that slightly strange and for that I feel sorry for you – sorry that you have to go onto a young persons personal profile and effectively stalk him to justify what you have to say. It is a sad reflection on critics of the UK Youth Parliament when they not only criticise the organisation, but its members. There is one word I can think of to describe it: pathetic.

As for speaking Irish Gaelic in the chamber, I think I speak for every other MYP, PG and member of staff here when I say, bloody good on you, Connor, for doing that. How you had the confidence to stand up and speak a different language at the dispatch box is admirable and you were very well respected for doing it. On a different note, I do not understand your concerns, Iain, about the language difference. Connor didn’t deliver his entire speech in Irish, only the opening line. He didn’t use Irish Gaelic to offend anybody, only to thank the Speaker of the House for allowing the opportunity in the first place. He didn’t speak in Irish Gaelic and move on, he stopped and translated for everybody in the chamber who didn’t speak “fluent Irish”. What is unbelievable, in fact, is the fact that in the debate that followed, Hollie Mediana, an MYP for Brigend in Wales, SPOKE WELSH. She opened her speech in the same way as Connor, in a different language – yet there is no uproar surrounding it. And why? Because she isn’t a member of Sinn Fein? Anybody watching the debates who wasn’t aware of Connor’s political preference wouldn’t bat an eyelid. And why? Because it isn’t important.  We should be celebrating the progress being made, and welcoming a new approach and another step towards unity, not finding a reason to shut people out of the process. Just because elected Sinn Fein members do not sit in the chamber, it by no means suggests that anybody who shares the same ideology should be banned from joining in the event – an event which in itself is used to celebrate and inform about the work of the UK Youth Parliament and all its members. An event which is there to empower young people and allow them to influence government decisions by representing the views of young people across the nations.

In direct response to you, Iain Dale, I will give you some advice: do not stalk young peoples Facebook pages to try and back yourself up (you look slightly perverted and intensely creepy); do not post the link to said Facebook on your blog in the hope you can gain a few more supporters because again, it just makes you look a little bit dodgy and finally, do some research, because you really don’t know the facts and therefore really do sound like a bigoted, close-minded, bitter and ignorant old idiot.

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