Connolly Youth Movement

The Connolly Youth Movement (Irish: Ógra Uí Chonghaile, often abbreviated as CYM ) is an all-Ireland Marxist–Leninist youth organisation.[1] It is a member of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. It takes its name from the revolutionary socialist James Connolly.

The CYM was founded in 1963 by young republicans who were influenced by the Communist Party during the Dublin Housing Action struggle. In 1970 with the merger of the Irish Workers' Party and Communist Party of Northern Ireland, to form the Communist Party of Ireland, the Northern Ireland Young Communist League joined the CYM, with Madge Davison as its general secretary. The CYM disbanded in 1991 due to a reduction in membership following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and eastern and central European bloc and the resulting political crisis in the World Communist Movement. However, following the resurgence of the left and anti-capitalist movement in Ireland, the CYM re-formed in 2002, grouped mainly around young members of the Dublin Branch of the CPI and student activists in NUI (National University of Ireland), Galway. The Connolly Youth Movement has relations with a number of young communist organisations around the world. The Connolly Youth Movement attends the Meeting of European Communist Youth Organizations (MECYO).[2]

Since 2016, the CYM has seen a growth in membership, with branches in Belfast and Derry in the north of Ireland and branches in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford in the south Ireland. The CYM is Irelands largest Socialist-Republican youth movement.

The Connolly Youth Movement aims at mobilising, educating and organizing a critical amount of young people in the overthrow of the capitalist system and the construction of Socialism i.e a social, economic and cultural system wherein the means of production, distribution and exchange are publicly owned and utilised for the benefit of the people. The Connolly Youth Movement will seek to mobilise young people against capitalism across a wide plethora of issues such as housing, equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community, imperialism, trade unions and the working class movement as a whole. The Connolly Youth Movement will practise the Socialism we seek to construct i.e democratic centralism, freedom of criticism but diversity of thought and unity of action. The Connolly Youth Movement will strive to inject Marxist analysis in all fields in which it struggles, with the singular purpose of raising the consciousness of other activists and developing a strong mass anti-capitalist movement among young people. The Connolly Youth Movement will align itself to progressive struggles abroad with organizations committed to objectives and analysis akin to their own.

The Connolly Youth Movement does not endorse any social democratic parties in Ireland and does not advocate a strategy supporting their formation. The only way to constructively influence the progressive elements of the parliamentary and union movement is through our activities and actions.

In 2017, members of the Cork branch of the Connolly Youth Movement occupied and re-purposed three derelict buildings near UCC as part of an initiative to highlight rising levels of homelessness.[3][4] In 2018, two of these buildings were repossessed by the Garda Emergency Response Unit acting in conjunction with a contractor for the O'Dwyer Asset Management Company that owned the vacant properties.[5][6][7] The first occupation, still ongoing as of 2021, is referred to as Connolly Barracks by the organisation.[8]

The Connolly Youth Movement was involved in highly publicised instances of direct action in 2018[9] and 2019[10][11] when members of the movement disrupted Fine Gael public meetings in Cork in protest of government policy in relation to homelessness and wealth inequality. One such action was criticised by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who stated "I think no matter what political party you come from or what your political views, we should all be committed to democracy and freedom of speech and trying to shout other people down and trying to shut down their meetings is profoundly anti-democratic".[12] The organisation responded that it had a right to challenge and question the government on policy issues.[13] In a March 2020 interview, then CYM General Secretary Alex Homits stated "Socialism will not and cannot be delivered through the ballot box and the CYM and its membership will not lie about this or endorse those who do."[14]

Many political youth movements as well as general political parties first conceive a radical political program. Lambasting their demands all over media/social media and informing the world: THIS IS WHAT WE WANT. But as Marxist-Leninists firmly rooted in the tradition of materialism and dialectics we must ask ourselves: Is there a purpose to having a radical program of demands we cannot fulfil or act upon? We set an agenda in the hopes of drawing people to it but if we cannot fulfil it what purpose does it serve? It is not enough to demand.

The CYM will not encapsulate demands but instead apply itself to the material conditions surrounding it. What can we do right now to empower the working class and if so, what tactics should we adopt in doing so? What are the practical realities of our position as youth activists and how can we consolidate our position? This is how we must structure our approach to resolving difficult political questions. We will lay no claim to being able to provide all of the answers but instead attempt to ignite a passion for organic intellectual development among other young people.

Through imperialism, the forces of capital and the capitalists seek to further enrich themselves off the backs of the working class. Another capitalist crisis has permeated European countries and laid the banking debt on the shoulders of the working class in Ireland. The sweatshops, factories etc. in low wage economies produce the goods that companies then resell at enormous super profits in the Western world. Venezuela and other countries continue to face the brunt of pressure for regime change.

The CYM states firmly that the British State benefits from the partition of Ireland. It uses partition to keep the people divided and weaker and the overcoming of partition therefore must be a key objective of any left wing movement. The CYM supports the unification of Ireland, despite knowing that this will likely happen while Ireland is still a member of the EU. The CYM will therefore see its objective in struggling for unity whilst politically educating our comrades and allies that a United Ireland will be a capitalist Ireland and that our objective is to reconfigure the social forces to achieve a socialist Ireland. The CYM desires neither a soft or hard border, but an abolition of the border. The CYM is opposed to Ireland’s continued membership and domination by the EU.

As a youth organisation the Connolly Youth recognises the abandonment of young people by the State. It is the responsibility of the collective society and state to look after its population. What we have seen under Leinster, Stormont and Westminster administrations is that they are willing to permit young people to struggle and die.

The CYM recognises that an environmentally sustainable society and capitalism are inherently incompatible. The expansion of capital demands the exploitation of limited natural resources. The consequences of this exploitation is visible in the form of climate change and increasingly frequent natural disasters. It is often the low wage economies of Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa however who bear the brunt of the devastation capitalism is causing to the environment.

A full in depth list of the CYM's Organisational programme can be found at