School strikers call on public to vote climate at ballot box

Published by Kayle Crosson on

February 7th, 2020

Hundreds of student climate strikers have gathered across Ireland today to call on the electorate to prioritize climate action when they head to the polls tomorrow. 

In the capital, students are now gathering before the William Conyngham Plunkett statue on Kildare Street, calling on the electorate to cast their vote for candidates who will address the climate crisis and ensure a liveable future for young people.

Fridays for Future Ireland organizer Beth Doherty told The Green News that the focus on climate in the election campaign was not good enough and fears that the issue “has not gotten to the point where we need it to be”. 

“We have until 2030 when we reach this point of no return and the government that comes in now could be in power for five out of those 10 years,” she said.  “We need our futures to be taken into account, because if it’s not done now, by the time we’re able to have a say or make the decisions it might be too late.”

The strike is the fifth of its kind in Ireland, with the first major one taking place on 15 March last year to coincide with a global school strike for climate action.

While the numbers protesting are well done on the huge crowds at the last strike in the capital, other protests are taking place across the country, including in Cork, Galway, Tralee, Ennis, Cavan, Dundalk and Navan.

Organisational hurdles 

While the Dublin strike has gone ahead, its organisation was not without its setbacks with An Garda Siochana (AGS). Earlier this week, Fridays for Future Ireland released details of an email exchange with the force, revealing that AGS would not “support” the event.

The force cited a lack of guaranteed adult supervision, the behaviour of some students at previous events and the “dangerous” nature of the planned route that it said could leave protestors subject to crushing at some pinch points.  

The march was intended to start on Grafton Street and make its way to Leinster House, where participants would hold a rally before the gates of parliament. Fridays for Future decided in the wake of the exchange with AGS to change their planned route and to continue with the march.

Yesterday, former president and climate justice advocate Mary Robinson issued a video statement in support of the strikers, stressing the importance of allowing young people to protest as “they can’t vote in our elections and they want to draw attention to the importance of climate”. 

“You’re never too young to protest, the right of freedom of expression is a right at any stage and the Conventions on the Rights of the Child guarantees that children can have a voice and participate,” Ms Robinson said. 

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.