A grandmother on hunger strike in protest at the State's climate change policies says she was “unimpressed” after a meeting with the environment minister Richard Bruton.
Patricia Devlin, 73, who is originally from Australia, but has lived in Monasterevin, Co Kildare, for 20 years, began the four-day strike on Wednesday in the hope of meeting Mr Bruton and calling on him to implement tougher policies to tackle the climate emergency.
Ms Devlin met Mr Bruton on Thursday evening outside the Dáil, where she was protesting, but says the meeting was a disappointment.
More video from @ExtinctRebelsIE grandmother Patricia Devlin who says she wants Minister Bruton to come out of his “hermit shell he’s hiding in” and speak with her about the climate crisis. She will be hungerstriking to try and encourage the minister to meet with her. pic.twitter.com/Inj9NElR8s— aoife-grace moore. (@aoifegracemoore) November 20, 2019
“We had asked for a delegation to attend his office, but instead he appeared on the pavement yesterday and asked me why I wanted to meet with him,” she said.
“I told him that I was anxious about the future for my grandchildren, and that I didn’t have any confidence that the Irish climate change plan was going to achieve its targets in time to prevent tipping point of irreversible changes.”
Ms Devlin said Mr Bruton then began a long speech about climate change policy and “reeled off” his plans for the 2050 goals Ireland had set.
“I challenged whether that (2050 plan) was adequate,” she said.
“The figures they are working from on 2050 are not really compliant with what the scientists are saying at the moment.
“He repeated that 2050 was what international countries agreed with, and Ireland would be standing with them on the issue.
“He mentioned carbon tax and various other polices, which I’m sure are a step in the right direction, but not sufficiently urgent.
“Essentially we agreed to disagree very politely, but I thanked him for coming to meet me and making that gesture, but I’m not convinced or feel any less anxious about the future for mine and everyone else’s grandchildren.”
Ms Devlin added that Mr Bruton did not ask her anything personal, did not mention the hunger strike, and said she found it hard to speak to him.
“He spoke a lot, it was difficult to get a point through, the minister has obviously made this speech a lot, going over his policies,” she said.
“It was a cordial interview but you’re not convinced, I didn’t get impression he was listening.
“We didn’t get into any existential discussion, he made no reference to the implications of not meeting deadlines, he kept repeating we needed an economic transition and talking about job losses.
“He made no reference to the reality of climate change policy he’d agreed on, this is the most worrying thing.”
Finishing her hunger strike today, Ms Devlin said that although she did not feel very well, she had become even more committed to the environmental cause after speaking to Mr Bruton.
“I’m involved in Extinction Rebellion actions and to that extent I’ll keep protesting,” she said.
“I don’t see myself as an important individual, it wasn’t just me, I’m part of a movement, so other people will come and take my place and we will continue to take action until we see some change.
“I’m more encouraged to do more protesting after my interview with Bruton, but I’ve no other set plans, but I have confidence Extinction Rebellion will take over where I leave off.”
A spokesman for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said: “The minister met with Patricia this afternoon and listened to her concerns.”