Trinity students joined over 200 secondary school children demanding radical climate action in a demonstration near Leinster House ahead of tomorrow’s general election.
The Friday’s for Future event appealed to the public to “cast your ballot with climate as your number one priority,” and demanded that the next government radically step up efforts to tackle climate change.
Extinction Rebellion TCD gathered at the campanile before moving to the Kildare Street protest, which was organised by secondary school students who came equipped with banners, posters and chants. Several students led a song of solidarity: “Hey ho, take me by the hand, strong in solidarity we stand, fight for climate justice, fight for climate justice.”
The 200 to 300 protesters listened to emotional testimonies of survivors of Australia’s recent bushfires. One young woman talked of her terror as bushfires approached her house. “We stay and we might die in these fires, or we leave and come back to nothing,” she said.
Several secondary school students gave speeches calling for climate action. “This crisis will define our future and we are here to ensure that we can’t be ignored, that our leaders can’t continue with a ‘business-as-usual’ approach,” said one. “We’re here to hold them to account.”
“Greenwashing doesn’t not equate to policy,” said another student, calling for the next government to implement policies to lessen our negative impact on the planet, and condemning critics calling such protests “emotional manipulation”.
The Friday’s for Future group, a movement inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, had appealed to gardaí for assistance at the event, but the gardaí declined to sanction the demonstration. They cited the lack of adult supervision, the reckless behaviour of some students at previous protests and the protest’s “highly dangerous” route as reasons for refusing to sanction the event.
Gardaí feared that the protest “could cause a crush” if the expected 1,000 students attended the demonstration. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties wrote to An Garda Síochána and “urged gardaí to facilitate the protest,” while former president Mary Robinson voiced her support for the students.