Restaurants fear losses if Extinction Rebellion can gridlock city

Global movement: Climate activists at the Extinction Rebellion protest in New Delhi, India, yesterday. Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images

Fiona Dillon

Restaurant owners fear 'no-shows' if customers are deterred from visiting Dublin's city centre by climate change protests.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland will today begin a week of "non-violent direct actions" starting at 1pm at the gates of the Dáil, which is expected to draw large crowds.

They will then embark on a 'climate walk' to a nearby location led by a pink sailing boat.

Similar events are taking place in capital cities around the world.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants' Association of Ireland, said people will try to avoid the city centre if they think there is going to be gridlock.

"I think it has to be managed properly," he told the Irish Independent.

"Every cancellation that we have in our restaurants, that's lost revenue to an industry that is struggling at the moment."

He said his members were "concerned" but he hoped the public would use public transport or other means to make their way into the city centre.

He said that the margins in the industry are "very tight". Restaurants have seen a drop in the number of UK visitors and are already feeling the effects of Brexit.

Mr Cummins said this was a quiet time before the Christmas period, "so all of this doesn't help our business model".

Annette Jorgensen, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Ireland, said people from all over the country were set to attend today's events.

"We don't want to target any particular individual business owner. We are on their side. We feel that the Government has left us with no other choice.

"We feel we have tried absolutely everything, we have signed petition after petition, and emailed and phoned politicians. We had demonstrations, and they are still leading us down the road to absolute disaster, a disaster that will be so much worse than any disruption that we are able to cause in a week in Dublin."

She said the economy would "completely collapse" if climate chaos happens "and that is what we are trying to avoid by doing this".

"The main people we are trying to communicate with here is the Government. We want them to acknowledge how serious the situation is. And that means they have to look at the science and take it on board."

A campsite will be set up at a nearby location, with a kitchen and a canteen.

"It's a family friendly atmosphere," Ms Jorgensen said.

The week will end next Sunday with an inter-faith vigil for victims of climate change around the world, she said, adding each day has a different theme.

A Garda spokesperson told the Irish Independent that gardaí have "a role in ensuring that peaceful protests can take place, and also in preventing injury and protecting life. Our objective with any such operation is to ensure the safety of the public.

"We respect people's right to peaceful protest and will facilitate same."

Meanwhile, more than 160 Irish academics had signed a letter of support for Extinction Rebellion yesterday.