Sunday 20 October 2019

Climate protesters stage mock funeral in Dublin in act of ‘last resort’

Demonstrators said disruption was necessary to draw attention to what they called an emergency.

Protesters outside the Department of the Taoiseach during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstration in Dublin, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)
Protesters outside the Department of the Taoiseach during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstration in Dublin, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Climate protesters who shut down parts of Dublin city say their actions are a last resort.

Hundreds of environmental activists took part in protests through Dublin city on Monday as part of the wider Extinction Rebellion group’s week of action to highlight the climate emergency, which will see similar events take place in major cities across the world.

The day began at Heuston Station, where a mock funeral, complete with chief mourners and pall bearers, carried a black coffin adorned with a globe though the inner city, followed by hundreds of “mourners”, as traffic built up and beeped along Ormond Quay behind them.

Paul McCormack-Cooney, an Extinction Rebellion organiser, said the group feels these actions are a last resort.

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Protesters in Merrion Square (Niall Carson/PA)

“We’re deeply sorry for the disruption, we don’t want to be doing this, we don’t want to camp out in the rain and cold, but we have tried everything else, this is the last resort,” he said.

“For the next week we’ll be undertaking more disruption around the city, shut down business as usual and engage that way.

“We’ll be doing a lot of public outreach, letting people know how bad the situation is, a lot of people haven’t stood toe to toe to how immediately it’s going to affect them.”

Arriving at the heart of the Irish parliament in Leinster House, a marching band serenaded the faux funeral as they met with hundreds of fellow protesters at the gates, laid down the coffin and erected a large skeleton puppet, which was carried through Kildare Street.

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Protesters outside Leinster House (Niall Carson/PA)

The environmental protesters visited every Irish government department building on the locked-down thoroughfare to hand in a letter, signed by over 200 academics in support of Extinction Rebellion’s actions.

“The Irish government is complicit in ignoring the precautionary principle, and in failing to acknowledge that infinite economic growth on a planet with finite resources is not possible,” the letter read.

“Instead, the Government willingly has implemented policies that allow greenhouse gas emissions to rise and biodiversity to collapse.”

Before leaving Leinster House, the group unveiled a large pink boat, which was pulled by ropes through the city, before ending at Merrion Square Park, opposite the Taoiseach’s office.

This is the defining political issue of our generation Megan O'Driscoll

Protesters, young and old, held signs that read: “Rebel for life”, “The oceans are rising but so is Carlow” and “Time is running out”.

One protester, Megan O’Driscoll, from Trinity College attended the protest with the TCD Extinction Rebellion group.

“It’s definitely the most pressing issue we have at the moment, if we don’t do this there’s nothing left to fight for, this is the defining political issue of our generation,” she said.

“I’ve honestly only taken this up in the last few years, I’m not proud to say I didn’t get in on it sooner, but I’m definitely here to stay.

“I think I got more involved because there are more public events being organised and it’s become so accessible, which is what you aim for when you’re trying to get critical mass for a support for a movement like this.

“All of the complaints being made about disruption and traffic are going to pale in comparison to the type of suffering that’s going to happen if we don’t take action.”

The group’s “Rebel Camp” will be set up in Merrion Square Park, where some of the members plan to camp for the week.

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Protesters carry a coffin outside Leinster House (Niall Carson/PA)

The week of planned action will involve major traffic disruption and yet unannounced arrestable conduct, members have undertaken peaceful occupation training in previous weeks and have a number of volunteers who are prepared to be arrested during the events.

“We are taking and holding parts of the city,” the group states.

“Yes, this means disruption of traffic. We don’t do this lightly.

“We do this after years of scientist’s warnings falling on deaf politicians’ ears.

“This is six days only, and we do it for life and for love.

“For six days, we are filling these spaces with hope.”

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