Sunday 18 August 2019

'Act like your house is on fire' - protests interrupt minister's speech at Botanic Gardens

Richard Bruton Picture: Steve Humphreys
Richard Bruton Picture: Steve Humphreys
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

Protesters have interrupted Environment Minister Richard Bruton as he spoke at a Forest Industries conference in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin this morning.

Two members of group Extinction Rebellion walked to the front of the conference hall with a banner but were quickly ushered out of the room by organisers.

The minister continued speaking but was shortly interrupted again by another Extinction Rebellion member who had been sitting in the crowd.

He shouted over the minister as Mr Bruton attempted to continue on as if nothing was happening - and as organisers rushed to diffuse the situation, others from the group began to stand up out of their seats and say their piece.

As the noise levels rose, many attendees of the conference hushed the speakers and said that the protesters were "misinformed".

An agreement was made to allow the group to elect one speaker from the group to make a short speech to outline their position.

They called for more urgency from the government in the face of climate change saying Ireland needed to "act like your house is on fire - because it is".

The minister was forced to restart his speech.

Sarah Doherty (21), from Kilkenny, is a part of the protest group and spoke at the conference today. 

Speaking to afterwards she said they had come to the event to address the minister rather than members of the forest sector: “We weren’t trying to target the people in the group, as their beliefs are in line with ours, we were trying to target the government. Their Climate Action Plan came out recently and they only wanted to plant 0.11pc of the lands available for forests per year. 

“There could also be a lot of sitka spruce in Ireland which doesn’t support our biodiversity in Ireland,” she added.

The conference had gathered to hear from experts who believe that forestry has the potential to mitigate 20pc of Ireland's CO2 emissions by 2050.

More to follow

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