Thursday 21 March 2019

School children protest outside Dail over climate change

Primary school children skipped classes on Wednesday to demonstrate against the Government’s lack of action on the issue.

Primary school children skipped class to protest (Janet Horner/PA)
Primary school children skipped class to protest (Janet Horner/PA)

By Michelle Devane, Press Association  

Hundreds of school children have taken to the streets of the capital calling on the Government to take action on climate change.

Primary school children from across the country skipped classes to protest outside the gates of Leinster House in Dublin on Wednesday.

The kids carried hand-made banners, some of which read “There’s no Planet B” and “Save our Planet”, and they chanted: “What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

(Janet Horner/PA)

The demonstration was organised by sixth-class students from Donabate Portrane Educate Together in Co Dublin with support from their sixth-class teachers.

Donabate Portrane Educate Together teacher Jenny Stanley said the students were “extremely excited” about the protest.

“They sent letters to different politicians, they made a promotional video, and they wrote a letter to the principal informing her that they won’t be coming into school – not asking her permission [but] informing her,” she said.

Ms Stanley said the children were inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who staged a series of strikes over climate change at her school.

Her action has spurred children across Europe to take action.

Last month 35,000 students took to the streets of Brussels to demonstrate over climate change.

“What they really want is for the Government to take climate action seriously and change their policies around climate change,” she said.

Ms Stanley said the children were delighted that so many other schools had joined them and that politicians came out of the Dail to listen to them.

“I can’t describe how proud we are of them. They’re an inspiration. They’re a credit to their generation and I really think they’ll look back on this day and say my voice was heard and I made a change. I think that’s very important.”

Students from Our Lady of Consolation in Donnycarney, north Dublin, were among the crowd with their teacher Nell Mercier.

Ms Mercier, who teaches first-class, said: “The kids felt they wanted to get involved because they’ll be the ones dealing with the consequences of climate change and it’s their world. They feel the Government isn’t doing enough and there’s not enough changes happening in Ireland at the moment,” she said.

Ms Mercier said that the kids were more passionate that most adults about the issue.

(Janet Horner/PA)

“They’re very much aware. It does show how concerned they are about it and how much they know it’s affecting them,” she said. “I was completely inspired by them about it,” she said.

She added that teachers were hugely proud of the kids.

“I was in tears today, when they rocked up with all their posters and their opinions. They had such energy. It was really emotional,” she said.

Senator Alice Mary Higgins said she was delighted to see such young Irish children getting involved and coming out in solidarity with other children across Europe who are trying to make a difference.

“I know they’re young but they have a real sense of the urgency, and they have a sense of realism about the timescale of how precious what we’re losing is and how speedily we need to act,” she said.

Ms Higgins said climate action was a necessity, not a luxury.

“There’s frustration in these marches but there’s also a real love for the environment which is coming across from young people,” she said.

“They’re recognising it as something very, very precious.”

Press Association

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