Wednesday 16 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion protesters set up camp in capital to drive home climate change message

An activist aboard a boat on a trailer passes Government Buildings during the march. Photo: Mark Condren
An activist aboard a boat on a trailer passes Government Buildings during the march. Photo: Mark Condren

Breda Heffernan and Caroline O'Doherty

Dozens of climate change protesters have set up camp in Dublin city centre for a week of "daily direct action".

Up to 500 Extinction Rebellion supporters took part in a mock funeral for planet Earth outside the gates of the Dáil before pulling a pink-painted sailing boat from Kildare Street to Merrion Square.

The boisterous and good-­natured march took protesters past no fewer than four government departments, ensuring their message could be heard in the corridors of power.

A section of Merrion Square South has been cordoned off for the week and, by early yesterday afternoon approximately 30 tents had been erected within the park.

Lorna Tierney, a member of Extinction Rebellion Kildare, camped out last night.

She said they didn't expect to by moved by Dublin City Council (DCC), which owns the park.

The capital protest is part of an international 'Rebellion Week' which has resulted in demonstrations in cities around the world.

In London, where protesters shut down roads around Parliament and Whitehall and blocked bridges, there have been more than 130 arrests.

Patrick Earls of the Irish Doctors for the Environment. Photo: Mark Condren
Patrick Earls of the Irish Doctors for the Environment. Photo: Mark Condren

However, Ms Tierney said she wasn't expecting arrests in Dublin. "The guards are not the enemy. We don't plan to be causing too much trouble," she added. Susan Breen, from Co Wexford, handed in a list of the group's demands to the Department of An Taoiseach and will be camping in the park for the week.

She said they had written to DCC and had "a very nice dialogue with them and they've been very respectful".

In a statement to the Irish Independent, DCC said organisers of the camp had "indicated they will endeavour to ensure that there is no damage done to the park and they have made arrangements for removal of waste [and the] provision of temporary toilets".

Student Jessie Bredican, who is studying applied social sciences in Galway, was one of the first to pitch her tent.

Omey Bradbury Izat (3), from Athy, Co Kildare, at the Extinction Rebellion protest in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Omey Bradbury Izat (3), from Athy, Co Kildare, at the Extinction Rebellion protest in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

"I wanted to come here and add my physical being to the protest," she said.

"I think the real truth of the severity of climate change isn't being told to us by our leaders in Ireland and other parts of the world."

While the march drew bemused looks from many workers on their lunch break yesterday, some passers-by were inspired to join the protesters' ranks.

Among them was Donna Anita Nikolaisen, her husband Mark Quinn and their one-year-old daughter Fleur from Kilkenny.

"I was just up for a job, I'm an actor and I do voice work," explained Ms Nikolaisen. "We were in the art gallery and saw the signs for the protest and decided to join.

"How can you not be [concerned about climate change] when the seas are being turned into a plastic soup? The fact I have a child makes it even more urgent."

Climate activist later staged their first pop-up protest in Dublin's financial district during the evening rush hour.

Around 60 protesters stopped traffic outside Connolly Station for about 10 minutes at 5pm before marching through the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).

They stopped outside banks and investment houses, shouting to workers peering out the windows with chants of 'leave your desks, join the march'.

While Extinction Rebellion is keeping much of its plans for the days ahead under wraps, it said it would stage a 'Budget for Climate Justice' outside the Dáíl today.

It will feature a "female fire breather" and "30 animal characters" and be choreographed by a theatre director.

Irish Independent

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