Sinn Féin Republican Youth

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Sinn Féin Republican Youth
Founded c. 1997 [1][2]
Headquarters 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
also:
53 Falls Road, Belfast
Ideology Irish republicanism,
Left wing nationalism,
Democratic socialism
Mother party Sinn Féin
European affiliation European Network of Democratic Young Left
Website
republicanyouth.ie


Sinn Féin Republican Youth (known as Ógra Shinn Féin until 2012) (Irish: Sinn Féin Óige Phoblachtach) is the youth wing of the Irish political party Sinn Féin. SFRY is active and organised throughout Ireland.[3] Upon its establishment in 1997 it was originally known as Sinn Féin Youth, it changed to Ógra Shinn Féin in 1999. A number of Sinn Féin's elected representatives are also members of SFRY.[4][5] Although it does not publish its membership figures, SFRY is believed to have about 500 activists. It has also been described as "One of the largest and most active youth wings" in Ireland.[6]

Membership[edit]

Membership is free and open to anyone aged 16 to 25 who supports a united Ireland and the establishment of a democratic socialist republic.

Organisation[edit]

Sinn Féin Republican Youth is organised throughout the 32 counties of Ireland in both local communities and universities.[3] Its structure is similar to that of Sinn Féin. SFRY cumainn are largely autonomous from local Sinn Féin structures.[7]

  • Cumainn - Cumainn are organised within a local area or within a college or University. At present there are over 50 active SFRY cumainn throughout Ireland. A cumainn is required to have a minimum of five members.[7][8]
  • Cúige - Cumainn are then organised within a local Cúige. At the moment there are five different Cúige in Ireland representative of the regions of Dublin, Ulster, Munster, Leinster (excluding Dublin) and Connacht. Each of these Cúige elects its own Officer Board to oversee co-ordination between the cumainn. Each Cúige is entitled to at least two representatives on the National Executive. (Leinster has both northern and southern organisers due to the large geographic area which must be covered.)[citation needed]
  • National Youth Committee - The National Committee (Comhairle Naisiunta) is the democratically elected governing body of Sinn Féin Republican Youth. It consists of between 21 members. Half of the National Youth Committee will be elected by activists at an annual conference, and half will be selected by those elected already in place. The chair of the National Youth Committee will be appointed by the party chair.[9]

Campaigns and issues[edit]

Members of Ógra Shinn Féin in Derry 2008 painting a Royal Mail postbox as part of the Green Post-Box Campaign.
An Ógra Shinn Féin banner drop on O'Connell Street in April 2009, as part of the Save 16 Moore Street campaign

The long-term aim of Sinn Féin Republican Youth is "to recruit young dedicated activists to ensure the continuity and successful conclusion of the struggle" to establish a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic.[10]

Specific issues of primary importance include: Irish unity and independence; workers' rights; the protection of the environment; an end to sectarianism and racism in Ireland; decent housing for the people; weekend elections and referendums; education; supporting the Shell to Sea campaign,[11] voting age to be lowered to 16;[12] and the promotion of the Irish language (Gaeilge).

The following is a list of some campaigns which Sinn Féin Republican Youth has been involved in:

  • N.A.R.C campaign - The "Not Another Ravaged Community" campaign was an anti-drugs campaign launched by ÓSF at the beginning of 2008. The campaign focused on educating young people about the danger of drugs. It included information on alcohol abuse.[citation needed]
  • Educate to be Free Campaign - This campaign was launched in Winter 2008 and calls for free education for all. It also calls for an increase in Irish language education and for student empowerment and radicalizing students unions.[13][14]
  • Green Postbox Campaign - This campaign was launched in 2008 and involved young republicans in Northern Ireland painting postboxes green (postboxes in the Republic of Ireland are green while those in Northern Ireland are red). The campaign received severe criticism from Unionist politicians such as Jim Wells. It is alleged that hundreds of postboxes were painted throughout Northern Ireland.[15][16][17] Although this campaign was officially launched in 2008, it had been common for ÓSF members and other Irish republicans to engage in this practice. In 2006, a Tyrone ÓSF member was arrested for painting a postbox in Fintona.[18]
  • National Suicide Prevention Campaign - In 2006 Ógra Shinn Féin launched a nationwide suicide prevention campaign. The campaign focuses on the dissemination of information and the demand for an all Ireland approach to suicide awareness.[19][20]
  • ARISE - In 2007 Ógra Shinn Féin launched the Anti-Racism, Imperialism, Sectarianism and Exploitation (ARISE)campaign.[21][22]
  • In October 2014, Sinn Féin Republican Youth at Queen's University Belfast petitioned for the Student's Union to hold a referendum on Irish Unity. They gathered over 600 signatures at the university's annual Fresher's Fayre, surpassing the quota needed to launch a referendum. On 27 October 2014, the referendum was narrowly defeated, by 21 votes. Five months earlier, in May 2014, QUB Sinn Féin Youth tabled a motion to the Student Council to ban the sale of the Remembrance poppy on the university's campus. The motion was defeated by 40 votes to 15.[citation needed]

Recent events[edit]

Upon the establishment of Sinn Féin Youth, a logo incorporating a petrol bomb, symbolising the militant origins of republican youth organisations, and an Easter lily was adopted. The words Sinn Féin Youth, which encircled the logo were changed to Ógra Shinn Féin in 1999 when the name of the organisation was changed.[citation needed]

As part of the transformation of the Republican Movement to reflect changing realities brought about by the peace process, a decision was taken to change the logo, and at the 2004 National Congress the green star and orange graffiti-style logo was adopted. The logo was again changed at the 2006 Congress when the current logo, incorporating the words Ógra Shinn Féin, the Starry Plough, the Sunburst Flag and the "Freedom Lark" was adopted. Ógra Sinn Féin has been criticised by the Young Unionists for failing to remove the petrol bomb logo from a number of its wall murals.[24]

At the Special Congress in 2007 called during the policing debates in Sinn Féin, Ógra Shinn Féin took the controversial step of voting not to support the motion put to the Sinn Féin Special Ard Fheis by the Ard Chomhairle. This was in opposition to the leadership of Sinn Féin. In their motion that was passed at the Special Congress OSF stated: "We will recognise the decision made by the Ard Fheis."[citation needed]

Affiliations[edit]

International[edit]

Sinn Féin Republican Youth has strong connections with a number of pro-independence and socialist groups throughout the world, including:

  • Ghjuventù Indipendentista - A youth movement which supports Corsican Nationalism and advocates independence from France. An ÓSF delegation attend the "Scontri Internaziunali" which is held in the town of Corte in central Corsica every year.[34]

Notable members and former members[edit]

Members of Ógra Shinn Féin (along with SWP and WSM) protesting against the reintroduction of college fees, Dublin, February 2009. Note the use of the sunburst flag, a symbol of Fianna Éireann
  • Mairia Cahill – Former ÓSF National Secretary[38] who has since gone public with allegations that she was abused by a former IRA member and that the IRA and Sinn Féin covered this up.[39][40] The accused has denied it and was also acquitted of the charges[41][42]
  • Eoin Ó Broin – Sinn Féin Director of European Affairs. He is also a published author and a former National Organiser of Sinn Féin Youth.
  • Daithí McKay – Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim, Ballymoney District Councillor and member of the Policing Board.
  • Niall Ó Donnghaile – Sinn Féin councillor representing East Belfast, and Sinn Féin Assembly Press Officer. Lord Mayor of Belfast (2011–12).
  • David Cullinane – Senator and previous member of Waterford City Council.

National organisers[edit]

Sinn Féin Youth members in South Armagh 1997
  • Eoin Ó Broin - 1997-98
  • Matt Carthy - 1998-2000
  • Damian Lawlor - 2000-02 (Author of Na Fianna Éireann and the Irish Revolution - 1909 to 1923)
  • Chris O'Ralaigh - 2002-03
  • Mickey Bravender - 2003-06
  • Barry McColgan - 2006-09
  • Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire - 2009–2011

Publications[edit]

The front cover of Awaiting the Lark written and published by Sinn Féin Republican Youth

Sinn Féin Republican Youth publishes a quarterly republican youth magazine entitled Splanc. The magazine was launched in 2001, eventually ceasing publication around 2006. It was re-launched in 2007, primarily in online format, with the same name, Splanc (which is the Irish language translation of Spark).[43]

ÓSF has published its own book Awaiting the Lark in 2006 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the 1981 Irish hunger strike. The book includes interviews with many well known Irish republicans such as Michelle Gildernew, Barry McElduff, Sean Crowe, Seanna Walsh and Martina Anderson. It includes photographs from the funerals of the hunger strikers and protests that took place around the time. The book also includes information about Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died on hunger strike in 1974 and 1976 respectively.[44][45]

Notable actions and incidents[edit]

Sinn Féin Republican Youth frequently attracts media attention or causes controversy due to some of its activities.

Some notable examples include:

  • Arrests at Belfast City Hall 1997 - On 3 November 1997 three members of ÓSF were arrested after they scaled the front of Belfast City Hall and unfurled a banner calling for the release of political prisoners. This was part of the "Saoirse" campaign. The RUC special branch later allegedly attempted to recruit one of those arrested to serve as an informant.[46]
  • Alleged abuse by Gardaí in Store Street 1998 - In November 1998 seven members of ÓSF were arrested by Gardaí in Dublin for allegedly acting in an abusive manner. While being held in Store Street Garda station the activists alleged that they were kicked and beaten by Gardaí. A protest which took place outside the Garda Station that night resulted in skirmishes between demonstrators and the Gardaí.[47][48]
  • UCC Riot 1999 - In November 1999, 50 gardaí were called in to reinforce University College Cork security after a melee broke out in the corridors of the Science building. Members of Ógra Shinn Féin, the Socialist Party, Workers' Party and anti-fascist groups had attempted to force their way into a lecture hall where British writer and Holocaust denier David Irving was to hold a talk. Gardaí were forced to baton charge the 600 strong crowd.[49]
    Protest outside Crossmaglen British Army (1999)
  • South Armagh demilitarization riots 2001 - In December 2001 ÓSF was blamed for carrying out petrol bomb attacks against RUC and British army bases in south Armagh. Twenty-two police officers, three soldiers and two police dogs were injured in the incidents during which protesters attacked the watchtowers at Creevekeeran and Drummuckaval with iron bars, bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs.[50][51] Two soldiers suffered serious head injuries after being hit with petrol bombs and had to be airlifted to hospital. Another soldier suffered serious burns. The barracks at Crossmaglen was attacked and protesters managed to smash through the main gate after igniting an oil barrel and pushing it into the entrance.[52][53]
  • Attack on SDLP councillor's office - In January 2002, SDLP councillor P. J. Bradley claimed members of ÓSF were responsible for an attack on his offices in Warrenpoint during which eleven windows were smashed and paint was poured over the building and in through the windows. Caitríona Ruane disputed Bradley's comments.[54]
  • Attack on Rosslea PSNI station 2002 - On 1 July 2002 ÓSF was blamed for an organised attack against Rosslea PSNI station. Up to 50 masked youths threw stones and bottles at the police station causing extensive damage to the exterior of the building. The Unionist Newsletter described the attack as "appalling" and condemned ÓSF for "laying vicious siege" to Rosslea PSNI Station.[55][56]
"Britain, It's Time 2 Go" sticker
  • Sit-in at British Tourist office in Dublin 2003 - In May 2003, six members of ÓSF staged a sit-in in the British Tourist office in Dublin, in protest at the decision by the British government to postpone the elections in Northern Ireland. A picket in support of the protest was held outside.[57]
  • ÓSF banned from Trinity College 2005 - Sinn Féin had been banned from organising in Trinity College Dublin until the ban was overturned in 1999.[58] In 2005, it was temporarily re-instated (until the end of the college term) after the TCD chairperson forwarded an email on to others [clarification needed] which included threatening remarks towards former British Prime Minister Lady Thatcher.[59]
ÓSF sticker calling for the Royal Ulster Constabulary to be disbanded
  • 1916 Auction Protest 2006 - In April 2006 members of ÓSF disrupted a sale of memorabilia associated with the Easter Rising of 1916 at James Adams & Sons Auctioneers on Stephen's Green, Dublin.[60] Two activists were arrested by Gardaí but were later released without charge. The protest was the lead story on a number of News broadcasts including TV3 News.[61]
  • Down Orange hall incident 2007 - In September 2007, ÓSF was heavily criticised after one of its members was taken to hospital following a fall from the roof of an Orange hall. The member had been removing a Union Flag from the roof. This incident occurred at a time when Orange halls in the area had been subjected to firebomb and arson attacks.[62] Some people claimed that removing the flag was anti-sectarian and should be applauded.[63]
  • Green Postbox campaign 2008 onwards - One campaign undertaken by ÓSF involved changing the colour of Royal Mail postboxes in Northern Ireland from red to green (green is the standard colour of postboxes in the Republic of Ireland).[64] Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff described the campaign as "peaceful political statement". Other politicians claimed this amounted to the MLA condoning criminal damage.[65] It is believed hundreds of postboxes were painted green in such republican heartlands as Derry, Strabane and West Tyrone alone.[17]
  • Occupation of Green Party offices 2008 - On 4 December 2008, a number of ÓSF members took part in a protest organised by the student based "Free Education for Everyone" (FEE) group. A number of protesters were arrested after they occupied the offices of Paul Gogarty, Green Party Spokesperson on Education, in Lucan, County Dublin. Gardaí were forced to break down the door of the office and arrested ten of the activists.[66]
  • Gregory Campbell incident 2009 - ÓSF were criticised for comparing East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels on its web-blog. An accompanying edited image on the site showed Campbell's head superimposed on the body of a man wearing a Nazi uniform. The article criticised Campbell's NI Executive culture portfolio and his stance on the Irish language.[67][68]
  • PSNI recording incident 2009 - In January 2009 a member of ÓSF in Omagh was arrested following a confrontation in the town. While at the police station, a constable attempted to recruit the man as an informant. The ÓSF member managed to record the incident on his cellphone. The incident has been brought before Omagh DPP and is currently under investigation by the Police Ombudsman. The recording of the incident was uploaded to YouTube.[69]
  • Warrenpoint visit 2009 - On 10 January 2009 ÓSF held a Republican Youth weekend in Newcastle, County Down. Part of the weekend involved a trip to the site of the Warrenpoint Ambush where an IRA unit ambushed and killed 18 British soldiers in 1979. Protesters including Willie Frazer and Jim Wells branded the trip an "insult to victims".[70] Loyalist victims campaigner Willie Frazer said "10 years ago the world hoped that they had moved on from terrorism but as the last few days have shown they still firmly believe in armed conflict".[71] The local ÓSF spokesperson claimed it was simply part of a historical tour of the County Down area.[72][73]
  • Belfast dinner dance 2009: In January 2010 the Sunday World (Northern Ireland edition) ran a full page article which criticized ÓSF for hosting a "Pro-IRA event" in a hotel in Belfast City Centre. The paper also claimed that there were numerous chants of "F*** the Brits" and "You'll never ever beat the IRA". According to ÓSF the event was a celebration of 100 years of Na Fianna Éireann with the families of dead Fians in attendance and traditional Irish Rebel music.[74]
  • Government protests 2010: On 22 November 2010 ÓSF members took part in protests against the International Monetary Fund bail-out. During a protest outside government buildings in Dublin one member of ÓSF was injured and taken to hospital after he was struck by a ministerial car during a sit-down protest. Scuffles also broke out with police.[75] In Cork, Ógra Shinn Féin occupied the offices of Fianna Fáil councillors in Cork City hall protesting against the selling out of Irish sovereignty to the European Union and the IMF.[75]
  • Israel embassy protest 2012: On 15 November 2012, two members of SFRY were arrested during a protest outside the Israeli embassy in Dublin. Gardaí batoned activists who were taking part in a sit-down protest on the road in opposition to the Israeli bombing of Gaza as part ot its Operation Pillar of Cloud.[76][77]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ógra Shinn Féin Revolutionary Handbook, Pg.4
  2. ^ "About Ogra Shinn Fein". Sebelfastsinnfein.com. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "About Ogra Shinn Féin". Ogra Shinn Féin. 12 March 2009. Archived from the original on 18 November 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Large Ógra Shinn Féin mobilisation to the Basque Country". Anphoblacht.com. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  5. ^ "Interview with Ireland's Youngest Councillor: Johnny McGibbon". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  6. ^ Hildebrandt & Daiber (ed.), Cornelia & Brigit (2009). The Left in Europe: Political Parties and Party Alliances between Norway and Turkey. Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. pp. 96, 97. 
  7. ^ a b Cork Sinn Féin website; accessed 8 December 2014.
  8. ^ Ógra Shinn Féin Revolutionary Handbook, pp. 19-21
  9. ^ SFRY National Youth Committee, republicanyouth.ie; accessed 8 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Ógra Shinn Féin Átha Cliath - The Voice of Republican Youth in Dublin". Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Shell to Sea protest". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "OSF calls for voting age to be lowered". Sinnfeinassembly.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Ógra Shinn Féin. "Educate to be Free". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Launch of educate to be Free campaign". Indymedia.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "postbox message heard on the airwaves". Indymedia.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "green postbox MLA told to say sorry". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Greening the north one postbox at a time". Derryjournal.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "Young republican jailed for painting postbox". Indymedia.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  19. ^ OSF launch suicide prevention campaign, indymedia.ie; accessed 8 December 2014.
  20. ^ OSF discuss suicide prevention, ograshinnfein.blogspot.com; accessed 8 December 2014.
  21. ^ "ARISE against international imperialsim". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Ógra Shinn Féin. "New ARISE video". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Ogra Revolutionary Handbook (2008 edition) Methods of Revolution, Campaigns, pp. 25, 26.
  24. ^ Unionists hit out at SF on logos, irishnews.com; accessed 10 December 2014.
  25. ^ National Youth Council of Ireland. "NYCI members". Youth.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  26. ^ Hildebrandt & Daiber (ed.), Cornelia & Brigit (2009), p. 103
  27. ^ Staff. "SEGI send solidarity greetings to OSF national congress". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
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  29. ^ Proscribed organisations - France, diplomatie.gouv.fr; accessed 8 December 2014.
  30. ^ Proscribed organisations - Spain
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  33. ^ D.M./J.P. "'Comarades' in Ireland". Abc.es. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  34. ^ Ógra Shinn Féin. "OSF build strong solidarity in Corsica". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  35. ^ Ógra Shinn Féin. "OSF address JERC's 21st national congress". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
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  37. ^ "Pearse Doherty biography". Sinn Féin. 2007. Archived from the original on 18 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  38. ^ "Piece by piece, the Sinn Fein mountain of lies is crumbling". Irish Independent. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  39. ^ "Mary Lou must face down SF leadership to get truth for Mairia". Irish Independent. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  40. ^ Gerry Adams (19 October 2010). "How republicans dealt with allegations of child abuse". Léargas. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  41. ^ http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/four-accused-reject-mairia-cahill-allegation-647317.html
  42. ^ http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/31846
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  44. ^ "OSF launch Awaiting the Lark". Indymedia.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  45. ^ "Rebel county launches awaiting the lark". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  46. ^ "Saoirse sit on City Hall". Ogra.150m.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
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  49. ^ "Kicks and punches fly in riot at college". Fpp.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
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  53. ^ "Omagh report to accuse police of bungling inquiry". London, UK: Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  54. ^ "Business attack blamed on Sinn Féin youth wing". Archives.tcm.ie. 22 January 2002. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  55. ^ "Masked youths attack police station". BBC News. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  56. ^ "Republicans blamed for attack on Fermanagh police station". Archives.tcm.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  57. ^ Staff (17 May 2003). "Protest by Ogra Sinn Féin ends". Breakingnews.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  58. ^ "Trinity welcomes Sinn Féin". Anphoblacht.com. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  59. ^ The Celtic Tenors. "Sinn Féin booted out of Trinity College". Independent.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  60. ^ "Sinn Féin disrupt memorabilia sale". Indymedia.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  61. ^ Unknown. "News report on the auction sale incident". Youtube.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  62. ^ "Fall From Orange Hall". Archives.tcm.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  63. ^ "OSF member injured". Indymedia.ie. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  64. ^ "Postboxes restored to original colour". Newsletter.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  65. ^ "Green postbox MLA told to say sorry". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  66. ^ "Ten arrested in Dublin fees protest". Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  67. ^ "Outcry over Nazi portrayal of Campbell". Colerainetimes.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  68. ^ "Sinn Féin shows its Nazi side". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  69. ^ Unknown. "ÓSF activist approached by PSNI to be an informer". YouTube. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  70. ^ "Anger at SF youth massacre visit". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  71. ^ "Willie Frazer on Sinn Féin Youth". Victims.org.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  72. ^ "Anger at massacre site over SF visit". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  73. ^ "Sinn Féin goes ahead with visit to site of bombing". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  74. ^ Steven Moore, "Top Belfast Hotel hosts pro-IRA dinner", Sunday World, 17 January 2010.
  75. ^ a b "Protest staged at Government Buildings". RTÉ News. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  76. ^ "Gardai 'use batons' against Israeli embassy protesters". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  77. ^ Protest by SFRY outside Israeli embassy, anpoblacht.com; accessed 8 December 2014.

External links[edit]