May 3rd, 2019
An Irish youth climate activism group has called on political parties to stop using children’s images and slogans as “election material” without their knowledge.
In a statement issued on social media, Fridays for Future (FFF) Ireland described speculations about its political alliance as “misconceptions”.
“We are a wholly independent movement that does not endorse any political party, nor are we supported by them in any way, financially or otherwise,” the statement read.
The group has said that various political parties’ have used children’s images and slogans without their knowledge or consent and called on the public to bring such instances to its attention.
“If you see this happening please make us aware of it, as we consider it a misappropriation of our movement,” a statement from the group said.
FFF added that its local branches have invariably asked adult activists to refrain from bringing banners emblazoned with any logos or symbols of their associated political parties to school strikes and continue to reiterate their request.
“We would now like to implement this request on a national level; please do not bring any party emblems to our strikes,” the statement continues.
Speaking to The Green News, Saoi O’Connor, Cork’s most prominent teenage climate activist, said that FFF Ireland felt it necessary to issue the statement as some political parties had used the photographs taken with young activists as “election material”.
“This wasn’t widespread, but images of strikes with politicians were used as election material and we were not okay with that,” she said. “[Releasing a statement] was our way of combating that.”
Ms O’Connor continued that people have misguidedly inquired the young activists as to their political affiliations, stressing that “no one party owns” the issue of climate change.
“This cannot be a partisan issue, the idea that one party has to own it or make it their identity is what what’s going to make us go down,” she said. “This is division. [Climate change] goes beyond party lines, and we have to work to keep it that way.”
Earlier in April the issue of Ireland’s youth climate movement and its political affiliations was raised at a Sinn Féin climate change seminar.
Addressing the confusions at the event, 17-year-old climate striker Darragh Cotter stressed that FFF does not support nor endorse any political party, adding that all parties need to “work together” to eliminate the threat of climate change.
FFF Ireland is part of a global youth climate movement driven and inspired by pioneering, Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg who is spearheading a campaign against climate change.
Ms Thunberg was the first teenager who refused to attend school on Fridays and sat before her country’s parliament instead to highlight the futility of attending school while climate change threatens the future of children worldwide.
The act of civil disobedience has inspired thousands of schoolchildren to follow suit, most prominently, thousands of children around the globe walked out of their classrooms on March 15 to demand a rapid, far-reaching action on climate change from politicians.