Young Fine Gael

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Young Fine Gael
President Marian O'Donnell
Founded 1977
Headquarters 51 Upper Mount Street,
Dublin 2, Ireland
Ideology Conservatism
Economic liberalism
Social Conservatism
Pro-Business
European affiliation Youth of the European People's Party
Website www.yfg.ie

Young Fine Gael (YFG) is the autonomous youth wing of the major Irish political party Fine Gael. It is Ireland's second-largest youth wing, after Labour Youth. 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. 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 national issues, to take no position.

History[edit]

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. Nowadays there is a broad range of political viewpoints held by members, ranging from centrist and social-democratic to the more conservative.

In July 2013, YFG passed a motion calling on the Government of Ireland to start accession talks for NATO membership.[2]

In 2017, YFG controversially voted to take a neutral stance on any upcoming referendum on Ireland's Eighth Amendment governing the country's abortion laws.[3]

Organisation[edit]

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, Kate Acheson, who is based in party headquarters.

National Executive[edit]

The last National Conference took place in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co Galway from 25–27 November 2016. The President, the Vice President and the first candidate elected on the panel sit on the Executive Council of Fine Gael. These are currently Marian O'Donnell, Michael Ward and Vivienne Phelan.

Current YFG National Executuive elected November 2016

The current members of the YFG National Executive are:[4]

Executive Position Officer
President Marian O'Donnell
Vice President Michael Ward
Director of Organisational Development, Recruitment & Women’s Engagement Vivienne Phelan
National Secretary & Director of Communications Killian Foley-Walsh
Director of Campaigns & Engagement Seamus Kearney
Director of Policy Stephen Browne
North West Regional Organiser Keelan Moran
Ireland East Regional Organiser Daniel Burke
Dublin Regional Organiser Clodagh Murray
Ireland South Regional Organiser Sheila Lynch

Branches[edit]

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 Committee[edit]

Young Fine Gael's (YFG) 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 Financial Auditor of YEPP, is a member of YFG and is the YFG International Secretary.

Recent National Campaigns[edit]

  • 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.
  • Break the Ban Campaign (2014). A campaign that calls for the repeal of the legislation that bans the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.
  • Priorities for Young Ireland (2014). A policy document launch that summarises all YFG policy. This document was launched by An 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.

Controversies[edit]

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.[5]

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.[6]

In February 2016, a YFG member altered the image of Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and posted it online. It was described as an example of "everyday sexism", "tasteleless" and "smutty".[7]

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.[8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]