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Young Fine Gael (YFG) is the autonomous youth wing of the major Irish political party Fine Gael. It offers its members scope to assist in formulation of political policy, and the day-to-day running of the senior party. It is a founding member of the centre-right pan-European organisation, Youth of the European People's Party, which is the youth wing of the European People's Party.

Young Fine Gael
PresidentKillian Foley-Walsh
Founded1977
Headquarters51 Upper Mount Street,
Dublin 2, Ireland
European affiliationYouth of the European People's Party
Websitewww.yfg.ie

YFG's constitution allows for the organisation to act on its own, independent from its parent party, enabling it to promote its own political objectives, or, in the case of important issues of conscience, to allow individual members to decide and campaign on their own position.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Young Fine Gael was formed in 1977 as part of the internal reforms to Fine Gael instigated by Garret FitzGerald, who had become leader of the party that same year.[1] They grew rapidly with over 100 local branches of YFG being formed by 1978. During the 1980s the organisation pursued a fairly liberal agenda, supporting the repeal of Ireland's homosexuality laws; a ban on the state funding on single-sex schools; and greater family planning options.


More recently in 2015, YFG campaigned in favour of legalising same-sex marriage by supporting the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.[2] In 2017, YFG members at the organisation's Summer School voted to take a neutral stance on any upcoming referendum on Ireland's Eighth Amendment governing the country's abortion laws.[3]In 2018, YFG members voted in favour of Ireland becoming a member of the European nuclear research centre; CERN. In 2019, YFG established its first branch in Northern Ireland, with a branch launched in Queen's University Belfast.This was attended by the Attorney General & European Minister Helen McEntee.[4]

OrganisationEdit

YFG is organised at a national level by its National Executive, elected at National Conference, held every 16–22 months; by regional councils, currently based on European Parliament constituencies; and locally by branches. Committees may also be established at a national level, accountable to the National Executive. Officers of all units work with the Fine Gael National Youth Officer, Ciara McMahon, who is based in party headquarters.

National ExecutiveEdit

The last National Conference took place in the Great National Ballykisteen Hotel in Co Tipperary from 23–25 March 2018. The President, the Vice President and the first candidate elected on the panel sit on the Executive Council of Fine Gael. These are currently Killian Foley-Walsh, Genevieve O'Mahony and Art O'Mahony.

The current members of the YFG National Executive are:

Executive Position Officer
President Killian Foley-Walsh
Vice President Genevieve O'Mahony
National Secretary & Director of Policy Art O'Mahony
Director of Membership & Engagement Conor McGowan
Director of Recruitment and Campaigns Daniel Lynch
Director of Marketing Mark Kavanagh
Director of Communications Chloe Kennedy
Leinster Regional Organiser Mourad Mejdi
Dublin Regional Organiser Eoin Scarlett
Munster Regional Organiser Ian Hutchinson
North-West Regional Organiser Sinéad Bolger

BranchesEdit

The basic unit of organisation in Young Fine Gael is the branch. These are organised in every constituency in the country with some constituencies having more than one YFG branch. YFG also has prominent branches in most of the country's third level institutions to provide a forum to interested students in areas of political discussion, policy, debate and social activities.

International CommitteeEdit

Young Fine Gael's International Committee deals with all of YFG's international relations and foreign policy. It is also responsible for the development and maintenance of relationships with other youth political parties worldwide, particularly those in the European Union. YFG is a founding member of the Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP), the youth organisation of the European People's Party. YEPP is Europe's largest youth political organisation, bringing together 57 member organisations from 39 countries. Eileen Lynch, the Secretary General of YEPP, is a member of YFG, and formerly served as International Secretary. The current International Secretary is Paula Campbell.

Policy CommitteeEdit

Young Fine Gael's policy committee issues annual pre-budget submissions to the senior Fine Gael (FG) party. The youth-wing is also responsible for establishing a manifesto on their proposals for youth affairs. The policy committee is currently chaired by the Director of Policy on the YFG national executive, Art O’Mahony. YFG's policy committee also submit proposals for inclusion on the Fine Gael’s General Election manifesto.


National campaignsEdit

  • Homeless Solidarity Campaign (2003 & 2004). Sleep-outs in Dublin, Cork and Limerick to raise awareness of Irelands' homelessness problem.[5]
  • Housing Tax Campaign (2004): Nationwide petition campaign to raise awareness of the government's excessive tax take on new homes for first-time buyers.
  • Talk! Campaign (2005): To raise awareness of Mental Health and Suicide [6]
  • Voter Registration Campaign (2006): To encourage Youth Participation in Politics
  • Lisbon Treaty Campaign (2008): Campaign to seek a Yes vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.[7]
  • Fair Fares Campaign (2014): A campaign to highlight the anomaly that students aged between 16–18 years of age pay an adult fare instead of a student fare. This campaign also called for the universal acceptance of school IDs as proof of identity.[8]
  • Break the Ban Campaign (2014). A campaign that called for the repeal of the legislation that banned the sale of alcohol in pubs on Good Friday.[9]
  • Priorities for Young Ireland (2014). A policy document launch that summarises all YFG policy. This document was launched by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Royal College of Surgeons on St. Stephen's Green in May.
  • Exiting the Crisis, Preparing for the Future (2014). A policy document that contained 15 recommendations for Government regarding youth unemployment. This document was launched by Simon Harris.
  • Positive Thinking, Positive Action (2014). A policy document that contained 12 recommendations for Government regarding Mental Health. This document was launched in Buswells Hotel by Senator Colm Burke.
  • Marriage Equality Referendum (2015). YFG campaigned in favour of a Yes vote in the Marriage Equality referendum in 2015.[10]
  • UseYourOwn Campaign (2018). Campaign for introduction of a €0.25 Government levy on disposable coffee cups.
  • Repeal the 8th Amendment (2018). Repealing the 8th amendment which limited abortion services.
  • Know Your Past Campaign (2018). Campaign in favour of providing History as a compulsory Junior Cycle subject.
  • Pay Our Troops (2018). A very large scale campaign which called on the Fine Gael-led government to restore the pay of members of the Irish Defence Forces to their pre-2008 Crash levels.


ControversiesEdit

In 2008, independent TD Finian McGrath accused Young Fine Gael of being "cheap and sexist" after it published pro-Lisbon Treaty posters. The first depicted a scantily clad male model in a tight pair of EU boxer shorts with the words "Enlarge your opportunities" emblazoned across them. The second poster showed a young woman holding a pair of melons close to her chest with the slogan "Increase your prospects." Mr. McGrath said he considered the campaign ""tacky and childish" and accused YFG of attempting to degrade the seriousness of the debate.[11]

In October 2015, president Padraig O'Sullivan resigned from his position “due to work and personal commitments”. It later transpired that his sudden departure was prompted by other members of the National Executive.[12]

In February 2016, a YFG member posted a meme of Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald, making fun of the fact she referred to 'Booby Sands' on a leaflet, online. McDonald described it as an example of "everyday sexism", "tasteleless" and "bordering on smutty".[13]

In 2016, a YFG member replied to a tweet by Sinn Féin councillor Sarah Holland, using the official YFG Twitter account. The reply contained the line 'where's that child I killed?', a reference to the IRA. YFG later apologised for the incident, stating that the tweet had been sent by an individual within the organisation using the YFG account.[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ . Irish Examiner http://www.irishexaminer.com/story.aspx?id=92785&m=5.3.4.0. Retrieved 1 July 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "YFG Marriage Equality Campaign @ #YFG15 - Young Fine Gael". Young Fine Gael. 3 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-08-13. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Young Fine Gael - Posts". Young Fine Gael. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  4. ^ Ferriter, Diarmuid. "Time for measured debate about the prospect of a united Ireland". Irish Times. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  5. ^ RTÉ Website. On Homeless campaign. [1]. Retrieved on 1 July 2009
  6. ^ RTÉ Website. On Youth Depression and Suicide Campaign. [2] Archived 2011-03-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 1 July 2009
  7. ^ RTÉ Website. On the YFG Lisbon Treaty Campaign. [3] Archived 2008-04-21 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 1 July 2009
  8. ^ "Young Fine Gael welcomes new 'Fair Fares' introduction".
  9. ^ "Young Fine Gael 'Break The Ban' Campaign". YFG.ie.
  10. ^ "YFG Marriage Equality Campaign".
  11. ^ "Enda, weren't you briefed on Lisbon posters?".
  12. ^ ""'Complete farce': YFG silent on sudden and mysterious departure of president - The sudden departure of Padraig O'Sullivan has caused controversy in Fine Gael's youth wing."". Archived from the original on 2015-10-28. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  13. ^ Healy, Catherine. "Controversy after YFG member tweets altered image of Mary Lou McDonald on beach". Journal.ie. Archived from the original on 2016-04-10. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Young Fine Gael hopes this tweet about killing a child didn't cause offence". The Journal.ie. Archived from the original on 2017-05-10. Retrieved 30 December 2016.

External linksEdit