Saoi O’Connor Photo: Shamim Malekmian

Student activists in Cork hold protest in advance of Climate Minister ‘s visit

June 21st, 2019

Dozens of teenage climate activists gathered in protest in Cork today in advance of Minister for Climate Richard Bruton TD’s town hall meeting on the new climate plan later this evening.

Young protestors chanted slogans and sketched climate-change-awareness graffiti on the floor of Cork’s Grand Parade Street to convey their message of climate revolt to Mr Bruton. 

The Climate Action Plan, published by Mr Bruton earlier this week, sets out over 180 actions, together with hundreds of sub-actions. The Plan uses the same model as the Action Plan for Jobs, which was also spear-headed by Mr Bruton.

Saoi O’Connor, Cork’s prominent teenage climate activist, told The Green News that student activists wanted to give Mr Bruton “a Cork welcome” by taking their school strike to the streets today.

Ms O’Connor said that student activists were not initially invited to Mr Bruton’s town hall meeting in Cork and that an invitation was extended to her only after her mother contacted the Minister’s office and took to social media to criticise the decision not to include young activists.

“[Mr Bruton] said that we weren’t contactable because the schools are closed which is ridiculous because I’m very contactable, but we’re going to overlook that,” Ms O’Connor said.

“After speaking to my mother extensively by email [Mr Bruton’s] secretary extended an invitation to us for this evening. So, I will be there,” Ms O’Connor added.

Ms O’Connor said that she was cautiously optimistic about the Government’s new cross-departmental climate plan, describing the release of the roadmap as “winning some ground”.

She continued, however, that the non-binding plan and its mandates are far from “enough” when it comes to stopping the accelerating pace of climate change.

“They think that they can maybe appease us and we just go away with plans that are not in line with targets and that they’re not actually committed to,” Ms O’Connor said.

 “These plans are not binding, and the next Government can just scrap them, in fact this Government can just scrape them, but they can’t, and we’re here to show them that today.”

Ms O’Connor added that she was disappointed to see that the plan “does not even commit to being carbon neutral by 2050”.

People before Profit politician Tjitske de Vries who joins Cork’s school strike for climate every Friday told The Green News that Government resistance in cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry was unacceptable and contradicted its green promises to environmental activists.

Today’s protest marked the 24th week of school strike in Cork and was in concert with student climate rallies in several European cities.

Friday for Future Ireland (FFI), the organising body for Irish school strikes, recently announced its plans to hold various nationwide protests throughout the summer stating the movement’s green agenda is not limited to the school year. The group stated that it would announce all the dates for its slated summer climate rallies shortly.

About the Author

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.

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