Green Party MEP Grace O' Sullivan arrived in Wexford to launch the by-election campaign of longstanding environmental activist and Ballymoney-based marine ecologist Karin Dubsky.
Ms. Dubsky who works in Trinity College, addressed a gathering of supporters at an exhibition by the Blackwater-based artist Hanneke van Ryswyk whose work is influenced by climate change and the impact of humans on the environment.
'Climate change is happening now, sea level change is happening now and it is happening here, especially in County Wexford where trees on flood plains are dying in the north of the county as the sea moves onto land', said Ms. Dubsky who grew up in Bannow Bay and is a mother and grandmother. Her husband Paul is her campaign manager.
When the Green Party approached the well-known environmental campaigner and asked her to stand in the forthcoming Wexford by-election on November 29, she said 'Yes' because it presents an opportunity to work from the inside rather than the outside, although she didn't sleep well that night.
Afterwards, someone reminded her of the odds stacked against her - Wexford hasn't elected a woman to the Dáil in 25 years, which in a five-seater constituency, equates to 125 man years.
'So there isn't an inclination to vote for a woman, and even more so an environmental one'.
'On the other hand, we have seen children on the streets calling for climate change. They want change and they want a future. We have seen Extinction Rebellion. There is a wave of people who want to stand up for change and I want to help them'.
As a co-founder of Coastwatch Europe and a contributor to the establishment of the Blue Flag beach intiative and the charge on plastic bags, she is a believer in the responsibility of authorities to provide openly public information on the health of the environment including air and water quality.
She produced samples seaweed and seagrass during her talk and encouraged people to engage in the Coastwatch project, to keep their eyes peeled when walking on the beach.
'We want people to find special things. Wexford has the largest honeycomb reef in Ireland - a girl in the tax office found it.'
There is a salmon motif on her election leaflet as this is the Year of the Salmon and she asks: 'When did you last see a salmon smolt flapping in a river or a bush filled with butterflies. The Government promised to halt the loss of biodiversity but a 2019 report notes: 'Most Irish habitats listed on the Habitats Directive are in 'unfavourable status' and almost half are demonstrating ongoing decline'.
Deputy Grace O' Sullivan, a former Greenpeace activist who served on the Rainbow Warrior said the Green Party needs Karin Dubsky because she is an inspiration and an educator.
'It's wonderful to have someone of your calibre running for the Green Party', she told her. 'I think when you have the capacity to listen and the gift of a voice, you can talk effectively on behalf of people and the environment'.
She said her own experience with Greenpeace showed her that change can come when humans act and react with education and determination.
'Climate change is such a huge problem that we need people like Karin, we need people who don't like politics and think it's a dirty place to be. We need real people. I had to kick myself to stand up as a political candidate. It is hard to stand up. You will see that Karin', she said.
'But it is necessary because everything is governed by politics. Everything we do is governed by regulation and law. If we don't realise that politics is something we do in our everyday lives and if we don't support people like Karin, we won't see change'.
'You will not get a better person in the country to stand', she said, encouraging Green Party supporters to use every opportunity to spread the word about her candidacy.
'If you don't do this, we won't change politics and if we don't change politics, we won't change the path of climate change. It's as serious as that'.