The arrest of two prominent Republican activists has strained the new power-sharing government in Stormont (the Northern Ireland Assembly), established between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party of Ian Paisley in May. In January, as a step towards a coalition with the DUP, SF agreed to recognise the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI); SF members took up positions on the Policing Board for the first time on May 31.
Organising is underway for demonstrations during the APEC summit, which PM John Howard is hosting in Sydney on September 8-9 and which US President George Bush and other world leaders will be attending. The Stop Bush collective is organising a convergence for September 8, aiming to draw people onto the streets to protest against the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The protest will also call for urgent action to stop environmental destruction and for the defence of workers rights.
On May 12, 60 people marked the anniversary of the deaths in 1981 of 10 Irish republican hunger strikers in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland, who were fighting for their right to be recognised and treated as political prisoners. The commemoration, held at the Gaelic Club, was organised by the Sydney Cairde (Friends of) Sinn Fein group.
In early May, Green Left Weekly’s Emma Clancy spoke to Ciaran Quinn from Sinn Fein about the new power-sharing agreement between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which restores power to the Northern Ireland Assembly, ending London’s direct rule of the six counties. From 2003-06, Quinn was Sinn Fein’s deputy general-secretary, and he is a member of the party’s Ard Chomhairle (national executive). He is currently living in Sydney, where he is coordinating Friends of Sinn Fein Australia.
As the regime of President Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt faces a growing crisis of legitimacy, expressed by protests, boycotts and industrial strikes, the government has pushed through a referendum to amend the constitution and enshrine the countrys police-state laws. On March 25, Amnesty International said the amendments will cause the greatest erosion of rights in 26 years in Egypt.
Hanan Aruri, a Palestinian woman from Ramallah, became involved in the fight against the Israeli occupation as a teenager during the 1987 intifada (uprising). Today she is an activist in the international campaign to boycott Israel, and is also involved in campaigns for womens rights. She was a guest at the Socialist Alternatives March 30-April 1 Marxism Today conference. Aruri spoke to Green Left Weeklys Emma Clancy about the current dynamics in Palestinian politics and the struggle against the Israeli occupation.
Hanan Aruri, a Palestinian woman from Ramallah, became involved in the fight against the Israeli occupation as a teenager in the 1987 intifada. Today she is an activist in the international campaign to boycott Israel, and is also involved in campaigns for women’s rights. She is a guest at the Marxism Today conference, organised by Socialist Alternative, being held in Melbourne from March 30-April 1. Aruri spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Emma Clancy about the current dynamics in Palestinian politics and the struggle against the Israeli occupation. [This interview will be published in GLW #705.]
Midnight on March 26 is the deadline for a power-sharing executive to be formed from the newly elected Northern Ireland Assembly so that devolution of power from Britain to the Belfast-based assembly can proceed. In the Stormont assembly elections, held on March 7, Ian Paisleys ultra-loyalist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won 36 of the assemblys 108 seats and Sinn Fein won 28. The traditionally dominant Ulster Unionist Party won only 18 seats and the Social Democratic Labour Party won 16. Voter turnout was approximately 63%, out of a total population of 1.7 million.
Tanya Reinhart, the Israeli linguistics professor and champion of Palestinian rights, died of a stroke in her sleep on March 17 in New York at the age of 63. Palestinian organisations issued a statement from Gaza on March 19, describing Reinhart as “a great indefatigable activist against the policy of the Zionist government of apartheid Israel towards us Palestinians”.
A national survey conducted last year by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education for the Australia Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) has revealed that most of Australia’s 700,000 university students have become financially worse off over the past five years.