March 15th, 2019
Over 10,000 students from across the country gathered before the gates of the Dáil today urging the government to adopt immediate and effective climate policy.
The protest, which began at St Stephen’s Green and made its way down to Leinster House, coincided with an international School Strike for Climate Action that has gained steam over the past weeks.
The student climate strike movement began just six months ago when Swedish climate activist and student Greta Thunberg began protesting on the steps of her parliament.
Over 1,700 school strikes are set to take place across the globe today in some 112 countries.
Amidst placards and chants that filled the city centre streets, students from around the country expressed their concerns and hopes on climate change.
“Something just has to be done. It’s horrible watching it all happen. Looking at small kids you want them to have a future, but at this rate, they won’t have a future,” said Aidan Douglas, a participating student from Castleknock Community College.
“I’m here because the best way to change things is civil action, not violence, but peaceful protest and this is the best I can do with what I have, so I’m going to do that,” said Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School student Caitriona Spears Cahill before the march proceeded down Dawson street to Leinster House.
The Taoiseach welcomed the participation of Irish students in the international school climate strike last week, acknowledging that, it is “their future that is in jeopardy.”
“These are young people who are standing up to adults. They are children, pupils and students telling all of the adults in all parties to get their act together and do more about climate change because it is their future that is in jeopardy,” Mr Varadkar said during leaders’ questions.
However, the fact remains that the latest EPA data shows that Ireland remains way off track to meet its 2020 and 2030 climate targets.
The 2019 Climate Change Performance Index released in December also singled out Ireland as the worst performing country in Europe for addressing climate change for the second consecutive year.
The Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton came out to witness the crowds, telling The Green News that the responsibility for action weighed on both the government and the individual.
“My hope is that this passion is turned into real momentum,” Mr Bruton said.
“Clearly, the government have a huge responsibility to create a framework, but also every individual, every business, every farm – we all have a responsibility to make the changes that can deliver what everyone is clamouring for here today,” he added.
“Today’s children and teenagers are the young voters of tomorrow,” An Taisce spokesperson John Gibbons said in regards to the strikes.
“And they will, in their tens of thousands, sweep politicians from power who continue to bend the knees to vested interests and look the other way as environmental destruction continues unchecked.”
An estimated 900 grassroots climate strike events are anticipated across 35 European countries alone, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.
“The young people on strike today speak with the authenticity of those whose lives will be dominated by climate breakdown,” Friends of the Earth Europe Director Jagoda Munic said on the day of action.
“A crisis they did not cause”.