Protesters call on Dail to declare climate emergency

Published by Kayle Crosson on

May 4th, 2019

Dozens of protesters gathered before the Dáil today to demand a national declaration of a climate emergency.

The demonstration was organized by prominent school striker Saoi O’Connor and word spread via social media. A smaller protest also took place in Cork city.

“We need to declare a climate emergency soon, and it needs to be better than the one in the UK,” Saoi told The Green News.

Climate emergencies were announced this past week in Scotland and Wales, with Westminster following suit on Wednesday evening in the wake of the recent Extinction Rebellion protests.

And in Ireland, Wicklow became the first county to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency on Monday evening.

The unanimously passed motion calls on the Council to publish a climate action plan, declare a county-wide biodiversity emergency, and publish an updated biodiversity action plan.

“The Wicklow development is good, if they stick to it, as they’re not doing so well with the current emissions,” Ms O’Connor said.

Continuing her weekly school strikes in front of Cork City Hall and having recently met President Michael D Higgins, she added that she feels “like we’re being heard, but not being listened to because we’re not seeing the action”.

The need for action was echoed during Saturday’s protest with canonical chants directed at the Taoiseach to “listen, Leo, listen: climate action now”.

Saoi O'Connor Photo: Shamim Malekmian
Saoi O’Connor Photo: Shamim Malekmian

Secondary school students Hannah Moloney and Daniel Herron were among Saturday’s crowd. It was their first time to partake in a climate protest since they were unable to join the thousands of students that participated in the international School Strike for Climate Action.

“Climate change affects my future directly,” Hannah said. “It’s not just one class or one group of people that this matters to. It affects every living organism,” she added.

“I don’t think there’s been any adequate government response to this issue. We’re still in an emergency,” Daniel said as the protest was underway.

To date, Ireland has been singled out as the worst performing country in Europe for addressing climate change for the second consecutive year.

The latest EPA data also indicates that the country remains way off track to meet its 2020 and 2030 climate targets.

Activists from Cork’s Extinction Rebellion movement held a climate vigil outside the Clayton Hotel earlier this week while the Taoiseach was in a town hall meeting.

Protesters stood in silence outside the hotel holding placards and banners to show their dissatisfaction with the State’s lack of climate action.

Extinction Rebellion is a civil disobedience environmental movement whose focal aim is to draw the public and Government’s attention to climate change and biodiversity decline.

Last year, four UN-backed science reports warned that biodiversity is declining in every region of the world, impacting nature’s capacity to provide food, water, and safety to people.

The analysis from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the result of three years of work by more than 550 experts from over 100 countries.

The independent intergovernmental body was set up to give policymakers objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity.

The body is set to release a landmark 1,800 report on Monday that will outline that one-quarter of 100,000 species studied are at risk of extinction over the coming decades.

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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.