Stuart Munckton

Irish republican leader Martin McGuinness, who was Sinn Fein leader in Northern Ireland until stepping down due to ill health earlier this year, passed away on March 20 aged 66.

Born in 1950 in Derry in the six counties occupied by Britain, he came face to face with the discrimination and sectarian bigotry against Irish nationalists and Catholics that marked the partitioned statelet.

Fans from Western Sydney Wanderers A-League football team distributed hundreds of rainbow flags to those attending the club’s March 5 match against Adelaide United. The move came after two weeks of controversy sparked by a banner raised by some Wanderers fans during their team’s 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals Sydney FC, which was widely condemned in the media and among many fans for being homophobic.

For the first time since Ireland was partitioned in 1921 as part of a treaty to end Ireland’s War of Independence, supporters of Northern Ireland’s “union” with the British state no longer hold a majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Irish Republican party Sinn Fein attained its highest ever share of the vote in the six counties that make up the Northern Ireland statelet still claimed by Britain, in emergency assembly elections on March 2.

Elections were called after power-sharing between Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) collapsed over a corruption scandal involving the public energy program. When DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster had refused to resign over her role in the scandal, Sinn Fein withdrew from the administration.

Days after 21 people were hospitalised for drug overdoses at Melbourne’s Electric Parades Music Festival, and just over a month after three people were killed in Melbourne by a toxic batch of MDMA (ecstasy), a February 21 poll found most Australians support pill testing to allow consumers to know what is in the drugs they buy.

Of course, die-hard misogynist and self-confessed Donald Trump fan Sam Newman was hostile to the AFL Women’s (AFLW) league infamously calling it “unbelievably stupid and ridiculous” on Channel Nine’s The Footy Show.

It turns out plenty think otherwise.

A push is underway to set up a safe injecting room in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond to reduce the number of fatal overdoses of drug users.

With the state coroner and other medical professionals supporting the push, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten has introduced a private member’s bill to set up a trial safe injecting room, which was debated in state parliament on February 22.

Donald Trump’s move to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines sparked a number of emergency protests on January 24 in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia and other cities, Democracy Now! reported the next day.

On January 24, Trump issued executive orders that revived the two mega-pipeline projects, which the Obama administration had blocked in the face of huge protests.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and supporters have said they will resist US President Donald Trump's executive order to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) that threatens to destroy water supply of the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, as well as Native American sacred sites.

Northern Ireland is in the grip of a deep political crisis.

The power-sharing administration in the six northern Irish counties still claimed by Britain between the Irish republican party Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) collapsed when Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned on January 9 and called for new elections.

Explaining his decision to resign, McGuinness cited “growing DUP arrogance and lack of respect, whether that was for women, our LGBT community, ethnic minorities or the Irish-language community and identity.”

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