Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of children take to streets across Ireland demanding climate justice

The international day of action saw hundreds of schools facilitate walk-outs as students missed lessons to demand action on tackling climate change.

Sadhbh O’Connell , 10, from Scoil Mhuire School at a protest in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Sadhbh O’Connell , 10, from Scoil Mhuire School at a protest in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Thousands of children and young people have taken to the streets across Ireland to demand climate justice.

The international day of action on Friday saw hundreds of schools facilitate walk-outs as students missed lessons to march across Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway city centres, as well as local communities like Enniscorthy and Maynooth, demanding further action on tackling the climate emergency.

In Dublin, thousands of climate activists gathered in the city’s Custom House Quay, and many held signs criticising the current Government and their environmental policy, such as “I’ve seen smarter cabinets in Ikea”, “Tick tock Taoiseach” and “Save the sea Michael D”.

There were others saying “There is no planet B”, “The dinosaurs also thought they had time”, and “I want a hot boyfriend, not a hot earth”.

The crowds chanted constantly for about an hour, calling out “Climate Justice Now” as well as “Climate change has got to go”, while they were shepherded by stewards, parents and teachers in the sunshine to a rally in Merrion Square Park.

Facing the Irish Government Buildings, a stage was erected where a number of young speakers spoke in both English and as Gaeilge, about the effects of global warming, and what it means for the next generation.

One young protester, Rory Rusnak, 14, from Sutton Park School, attended the march with his friend Aoibhinn Dunne, 13, and held a sign saying “Tick tock Taoiseach”, saying he felt he needed to send a direct message to the Irish leader.

“I think it’s important Leo Varadkar act on climate change, we young people are going to inherit the earth and it’s being destroyed right now for profit,” he said.

“The Government needs to do much more, I’d like them bring through real legislation and listen to young people about things like offshore drilling, which is a disaster for the climate and our marine life.”

One mother who joined the protest, Christine McGee, said she was inspired by her children to become a climate activist.

“The students are telling us we have to act now,” she said.

“Leo has to be bold, stop the fossil fuels.

“I consider myself a climate activist now, after listening to my children, who are 16, 22 and 25, and I was inspired by them.

“Greta Thunberg (the Swedish teenager who sparked a global movement with climate activism), is teaching us all the way, I think she is the best.”

Representatives of a number of Irish political parties and trade union movements could be seen at the march.

The ages of those taking part ranged from babies in buggies to pensioners in wheelchairs, however young people made up the bulk of the numbers.

The rallies were part of the Global Climate Strike by student-led groups Fridays for Future Ireland and the Schools Climate Action Network – more than 4,000 registered events took place worldwide.

Stop Climate Chaos, a coalition of Irish organisations, alongside trade unions and grassroots groups, have mobilised communities to host actions in their towns and villages across the country.

Aine O’Gorman, activism support co-ordinator for Stop Climate Chaos, said: “Today the school strikers are expecting millions to take to the streets in cities and towns across the world.

“It’s incredible to see people across Ireland stepping up to organise in their workplaces and communities.”

Ireland was the second country in the world to declare a climate emergency, but the Government has been criticised for their policies on the environment since.

A recent swell in support for the Green Party in European and local elections this year served to highlight that the Irish public have climate change on their minds.

It is expected by many to be reflected in the next general election anticipated some time next year, with most parties already noticeably making climate a talking point in their policy manifestos.

The Irish Government won a High Court case this week when environmental activists lost an application for a judicial review into the Government’s Mitigation Plan to tackle the climate emergency.

The judge, although he noted that climate change was a serious concern, said that the courts could not interfere with Government policy.

PA

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