'For us, capitalism and racism are intertwined': Cork socialist youth organisation calling for change

'For us, capitalism and racism are intertwined': Cork socialist youth organisation calling for change

L-R Kevin Cashman of Connolly Youth Movement, Stevie Grainger who heads a youth project at Cork Migrant Centre in Nano Nagle Place and Dr Naomi Masheti, Programme Coordinator at Cork Migrant Centre. The Cork branch of Connolly Youth Movement raised €700 for the Migrant Centre. Picture credit: Stevie Grainger

ALTHOUGH a relatively small group in size, Connolly Youth Movement is making a big impact when it comes to rejecting racism.

The Cork branch of the socialist organisation recently raised €700 for the Cork Migrant Centre – a charity which provides free, confidential and current information on access to services and immigration issues.

Speaking to The Echo, Kevin Cashman, Social Events Officer at the Cork branch of Connolly Youth Movement explained that the fundraising efforts were inspired after the Black Lives Matter movement was brought back into sharp focus following the murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis last May.

L-R Kevin Cashman of Connolly Youth Movement, Stevie Grainger who heads a youth project at Cork Migrant Centre in Nano Nagle Place and Dr Naomi Masheti, Programme Coordinator at Cork Migrant Centre. The Cork branch of Connolly Youth Movement raised €700 for the Migrant Centre. Picture credit: Stevie Grainger
L-R Kevin Cashman of Connolly Youth Movement, Stevie Grainger who heads a youth project at Cork Migrant Centre in Nano Nagle Place and Dr Naomi Masheti, Programme Coordinator at Cork Migrant Centre. The Cork branch of Connolly Youth Movement raised €700 for the Migrant Centre. Picture credit: Stevie Grainger

Mr Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes as he pleaded 'I can’t breathe'.

“The original idea was actually to have something that would donate to one of the groups trying to raise bail money for some of the people involved in the protests in the US but then we thought there’s obviously a lot of problems with racism in Ireland that are not really spoken about too much so we thought it would be opportune to raise awareness about it and raise a bit of money for a local charity,” Kevin explained.

The group then enlisted the help of some musician friends and set up a live streamed charity gig in aid of Cork Migrant Centre.

“We were overwhelmed with the amount of support there was for it,” Kevin said.

“We had an initial target of €200 and we ended up raising around €700 which was fantastic really." 

Connolly Youth Movement has been in existence since the 1970s, but the organisation in its current guise has been around for the last six or seven years.

The Marxist-Leninist group say they believe that capitalism has a big hand to play in the inequalities and injustices of our society.

“For us, addressing these inequalities and injustices is only really going to be meaningful and long-term if we address the economic system that’s caused them and maintained them,” Kevin said.

“For us, capitalism and racism are very intertwined and we want to address and undermine both of those. 

“Some of our work lately has involved opposing some groups that are trying to capitalise on that kind of fear and distrust that’s happening in Ireland at the moment with immigrants and everything.

“We’re seeing a lot of organisations set up stalls and protests and trying to rope people in essentially to this kind of mindset and again a lot of what we’re doing is opposing them on the street and trying to discredit these movements as much as possible before these ideas take off." 

Connolly Youth Movement, whose members are aged between 16 and 30, has around 100 members nationally and Kevin says there has been increased interest in the organisation of late as people become less tolerant of the injustices around them.

“There has been huge support in recent times for groups like MASI (the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) and Cork Migrant Centre as well,” he said.

“Things are far from ok here [in Ireland]. 

“I think it has the potential to be quite a positive transformative period but it’s going to take time to get to where we need to be.”

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