'As long as it’s done peacefully I think that’s really important' - Zappone backs Extinction Rebellion protests
MINISTER Katherine Zappone has said she supports the Extinction Rebellion climate action protest and revealed she visited their camp adding: "it was beautiful to see".
The climate activists have set up camp on Dublin's Merrion Square and have caused some traffic disruption in the city.
Ms Zappone said such disruption is often the impact of protests adding: "As long as it’s done peacefully I think that’s really important."
She said the Extinction Rebellion protesters have been peaceful.
Ms Zappone said she has had to change her commuting plans and added that she left an hour early for an appearance on RTÉ last night.
However, she said she did this: "because I support the protests".
Ms Zappone, the children minister, visited the camp today ahead of her press conference on the additional €94m her Department secured in the Budget.
She said €2m will go towards youth services including the creation of a special fund for youth action on climate justice.
Ms Zappone said there has been "unprecedented youth mobilisation" in relation to fears over climate change.
She referred to climate action measures in the Budget and said: "I believe we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing today without the young people."
Ms Zappone said that on her way to the press conference she spotted a gap in the barricades at the Extinction Rebellion adding: "So I went in and it was beautiful to see".
She said: "Once upon a time I sat in a circle too especially in and around Greenham Common [anti-nuclear protests]".
Ms Zappone said she introduced herself and asked what the protesters wanted.
She asked them to look "deeply" at the detail of the Budget and "if there’s any progress in terms of what we’ve done in that regard."
She said the protesters told her they would.
The Budget includes a €6-per-tonne hike in the carbon tax with the €90m in increased funds raised to be used for climate action measures.
This has been criticised by environmentalists for not going far enough.
It also includes an extra €21m for overseas aid which Ms Zappone said will help developing countries that climate change impacts most.