Éistigí, The Youth Wing Of Saoradh

Éistigí or “Listen”*, is the teenage wing of the minor Irish republican party, Saoradh. It sometimes uses the sobriquet Republican Youth, which is the same name as the equivalent body associated with Sinn Féin. Internationally, there is a long history of political parties having separate organisations for young people, though few can boast of the revolutionary roots that groups in Ireland can point to. In this context, the original template was the early 20th century scouting body, the Fianna Éireann, a nationalist grouping largely for a male membership though the Belfast branch, the Betsy Gray Slua, was all-female. The organisation was purposefully militant in nature, many members passing on to the ranks of the Irish Republican Army or other insurgent bodies.

However, by the late 1980s most fringe republican parties in Ireland had adapted to the country’s mainstream political conventions, de-emphasising or eliminating the quasi-militarist veneer of their youth wings. In line with that development, Éistigí is focused on attracting new members to the parent organisation, issue-based activism and electoral campaigning.

Éistigí , the youth wing of Saoradh. Note the missing accent over the end “i” in the logo.

Interestingly, the group is represented by its own logo, separate from Saoarah’s chaotic party emblem. As I discussed elsewhere, since the 1970s the international five-pointed star has become a distinctive symbol of left-wing republicanism in Ireland. Éistigí combines this with a stock image of a clenched fist inside a round circle, using the green, white and orange colours of the national flag. While striking in its own way, it emulates the fussiness of the parent logo, lacking the clean lines you see in emblems used by the likes of éirígí, a small republican party. Indeed, though they might not like the comparison, the Saoradh family of graphic designs are not only old fashioned in tone but seem like Gaelic equivalents of the overloaded flags and banners of the anti-colonial movements of Africa during the 1960s and ’70s.

*The name appears as Éistigi in the group’s PR but the more conventional Irish spelling is Éistigí, with accent over the end “i“. Perhaps there is some alternative or regional variant of the term that I am unaware of?

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18 comments

  1. The final ‘i’ should definitely have a fada over it, it’s a mistake. You could make an argument over the middle ‘i’, based on pronunciation or emphasis, but conventional spelling wouldn’t have a fada there.

    1. Yep. Éirígí is the name of a tiny, once promising Irish republican party. I suspect the similarity is not coincidental. Anymore than the use of “Éistígí Republican Youth” with its close resemblance to Sinn Féin Republican Youth. They are all fishing from the same pool.

      Bit disappointing, to be honest. They declare newness, a revolutionary challenge to the established republican order, but hark back to older stuff or plagiarise from others.

      At least be innovative.

      1. Agreed. Too similar to éirígí. As you say, a once promising party – bringing us back to the recurring question: did we really need another one?

        1. LOL! True. I had some hopes for éirígí at the start but they seem to be an also-ran. Not as full-on in the slay the capitalist bourgeoisie pronouncements as Saoradh, which sounds like a republican-version of the SWP or SP.

          Hardcore Trotskyist language has as much appeal to the average Irish voter as a hole in the head. So to speak!

      2. “Hark back”. Oh dear, _Éistigí_ might be translated as “Hark Ye!” TBH it’s a rather an odd name for a political group, sounds more religious, shades of “Hear the Word of the Lord”. So maybe it was indeed intended to resemble _Éirigí_. Still feels a bit lame though.

        1. Yeah, but you do hear “éistigí” in school and places like that, so maybe that was the inspiration for the name of the youth wing. It already sounds familiar. But the casual resemblance to éirígí is more likely. Even I confused the spelling.

            1. Haha, I’d forgotten that school usage. Is very true.

              Just on éirígí, one thing one could not fault them on was their overall design particularly in the first two or three years. They had a strikingly good approach in that area.

              1. Yeah, they were a bit of a media thing around 2009, going on to take a prominent role in the anti-austerity and anti-water charges’ campaigns. Or at least, they had people with lots of branded flags and placards at the rallies. Then some members were caught playing with guns, which set them back badly PR-wise. There was a long lull for the last couple of years, as they went through the motions. Membership and commitment dropped, etc. Their social media presence stalled.

                Now they seem to be back. New red-and-yellow party colours and star logo (a bit Maoist to be honest), some activity on their party website. Or at least a few new blog posts. Facebook account is active, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube not really, but they could be trying to revive the party. Like everyone on the Left, the failure to fully exploit the austerity years was telling. And demoralising.

              2. Absolutely. They rebranded a while ago with a new red-and-yellow (gold) scheme. A wee bit communist, at least to unfamiliar eyes (though of course Labour UK uses the same scheme – but the big five-pointed star in the Éirígí logos gives them a certain frisson). The original green and orange party colours have been pushed to one side. Still good designs though. They are still producing eye-catching stuff.

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