Trinity students join 10,000 protesters at Schools Strike for Climate Change

The march saw a large USI bloc protest at Leinster House

Trinity students are among an estimated 10,000 people to march to Dáil Éireann to strike for climate action this afternoon. The students joined a Union of Students in Ireland (USI) -led student bloc under the Schools Strike for Climate Change. Students gathered at outside St. Stephens Green at noon before marching to Leinster House around 2pm.

According to a statement issued by organisers, marches will also take place in Cork, Tralee, Meath, Galway, and “locally at school gates across the country”. They noted that these marches follow on from various smaller strikes that have taken place across the country.

The demonstration saw singing, chanting, and various student speakers address the crowd. A small group of attendees were also seen to climb large scaffolding alongside a building outside Leinster House, singing and dancing once they reached the top.

Protesters are issuing several demands, including that “all fossil fuels are left in the ground”, that Ireland “uses 100% renewable electricity by 2030”, the declaration of a climate emergency by the government which “communicates the severity of the ecological crisis, and that the government “avoids having regular citizens carry all the burden towards transitioning to a sustainable society”.

Alongside these demands, they are also calling for the implementation of “all the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change”, the creation of stronger regulations on corporations “that are causing the climate crisis”, and that “the Government implements a Green New Deal”.

Speaking to Trinity News prior to the march, USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship Aisling Cusack explained that it is “great to see generations of students coming together to demand climate action now to secure a safe and healthy environment for the future”.

She praised students marching in today’s demonstration, stating that “students are striking, fighting against climate change in the hope that students in the future won’t have to”.

“We grow up in Ireland hearing the words ‘stay in school’ and that ‘education is so important’ and I’m not contesting that. We also hear how money is such an issue and the pot isn’t big enough. Yet the government are willing to allow this inaction to continue while we miss school and lectures to strike.”

Cusack concluded by noting that “the government would rather pay fines for carbon than invest in our education and that is an insult to students and young people in this country”.

Speaking to Trinity News at the march, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett noted that “this is a youth revolution against climate change”. He voiced his support for the youth movement, noting “the young people are showing the leadership that has been so sadly lacking from successive governments to deal with the climate emergency”.

He called for action and said “let’s hope now it can put real pressure on the government to do the things they’ve refused to do”.

The strike was also supported by Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton, who praised students’ interest in what he called “our biggest challenge globally”.  According to him, “the decisions we take now will define the next century and the voices of our young people must be heard”.

This strike is part of a global movement, sparked by the acts of a 16 year old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who began striking outside the Swedish parliament last August. She has since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is the current Assistant Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister Law student, and a former Deputy News Editor.