March for climate change action: 'We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future'

March for climate change action: 'We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future'
Picture: Collins

- with reporting by Press Association

Update 3.50pm: Angry students flooded the streets of Ireland today, demanding that the Government acts to protect their futures.

The international day of action saw hundreds of schools facilitate walk-outs as students missed classes to march across Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway city centres, as well as local communities like Enniscorthy and Maynooth, demanding further action on tackling the climate emergency.

“We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future,” said Caoimhe Horgan, 15 from Macroom.

“There's no point in learning for a future that we will not have unless emissions are reduced now,” she said.

More than 5,000 people marched through Cork, lamenting the slow response of governments to protect them from what they say is a fast-ticking climate timebomb.

“It's disgraceful that we have to miss our education to do this,” said Aoibhinn McAdam O'Connell, 15, from Cork.

Children spoke about combing beaches looking for seaweeds to replace plastics, and of their fear that mass extinctions, triggered by climate change, would not leave many animals left.

Many students said that Swedish environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, 16, who began striking from school to force her government to address the climate crisis, has been a huge influence.

One teenager, Saoi O'Connor, 16, from Skibberean, has even taken time off school to campaign fulltime on the issue with Greta.

Addressing the crowds after the march, Saoi said: “It's terrifying seeing so many of you here today.

“Because you are a force to be reckoned with.”

Picture: Collins
Picture: Collins

Speaking after the speeches, Saoi said: “We can march now or swim later.

“I'd like to see Government wake-up. At the bare minimum, we ask for the right to exist.”

In Dublin, thousands of climate activists gathered in the city’s Custom House Quay, and many held signs criticising the current Government and their environmental policy, such as “I’ve seen smarter cabinets in Ikea”, “Tick tock Taoiseach” and “Save the sea Michael D”.

There were others saying “There is no planet B”, “The dinosaurs also thought they had time”, and “I want a hot boyfriend, not a hot earth”.

The crowds chanted constantly for about an hour, calling out “Climate Justice Now” as well as “Climate change has got to go”, while they were shepherded by stewards, parents and teachers in the sunshine to a rally in Merrion Square Park.

Facing Government Buildings, a stage was erected where a number of young speakers spoke in both English and as Gaeilge, about the effects of global warming, and what it means for the next generation.

Ireland was the second country in the world to declare a climate emergency, but the Government has been criticised for their policies on the environment since.

A recent swell in support for the Green Party in European and local elections this year served to highlight that the Irish public have climate change on their minds.

It is expected by many to be reflected in the next general election anticipated some time next year, with most parties already noticeably making climate a talking point in their policy manifestos.

The Government won a High Court case this week when environmental activists lost an application for a judicial review into the Government’s Mitigation Plan to tackle the climate emergency.

The judge, although he noted that climate change was a serious concern, said that the courts could not interfere with Government policy.

Earlier: 'I want to fight for everyone's future' - Students across the country march for climate change action

Thousands of students across the country are joining protests calling for more action on climate change.

March for climate change action: 'We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future'

It is part of worldwide demonstrations urging politicians and businesses to step up their efforts.

Millions of students around the world have walked out of class today.

60 towns and cities in Ireland are getting involved including Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford - with organisers expecting up to 20,000 people to turn up.

Several thousand students gathered in Cork this morning for the global climate change protest with one eager group of teenagers having travelled from Ballyduff, Co Waterford to show their solidarity for the cause.

Sixth-year student Rachel Kingston and her friends Saidbh Corcoran, Freya Farrar and Fiadh Daly travelled to the city to register their protest at what they perceive as the failure of the Government to take strong action on the environment.

Rachel says surprisingly some students still do not know a lot about the climate change crisis.

"We are from Waterford and most people in our school wouldn't know about it. It is important to raise awareness. We came here with my mum. It is shocking that there are people who don't know what is going on. Or people who are saying 'Who is Greta Thunberg?' and you think 'How do people not know that?'

When we look back on this day we are not going to be thinking about missing a day of school. We are going to thinking that we turned up for a great cause.

Fiadh said their school has a Greens School Committee and recycling bins in place but naturally the Leaving Certificate is at the forefront of teachers minds. Saidbh said she is grateful for the support of her parents who told her she could take the day off to attend.

One student in Dublin said: We just want to make our world a better place."

Another said: "If we don't do this, we'd be in school for no reason if we don't have a future."

March for climate change action: 'We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future'

A student who joined the march in Ennis said: "Small things like getting a reusable coffee cup when you buy a coffee, walking to school or work, little things like that can really make a big difference."

Meanwhile, transition year student Juliusz Milewski from Clonakilty Community School in Co. Cork said it is important for students to do more than pay lip service to the cause.

"It is looking like the numbers will be big today because it is an international event. The numbers increase every single time. Students themselves need to do things.

"Some people just eat bags of crisps and don't even put the bags in the (recycling) bin. I would suspect that some people came here today as a doss.

March for climate change action: 'We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future'

"I think the more we have these protests the more people will increase their awareness. That said most of my generation are conscious of the environment. "

Junior Certificate student Anna Keyes from Carrigaline, Co. Cork, said it was important not to be complacent about the environment. Her School Edmund Rice College encouraged students to attend the protest.

"We have seen the effect of climate change and we have seen that it takes children to take a stand. It is our future. It is everybody's future. People are living in areas that have already been affected by climate change. We have to fight for them as well."

Fellow Junior Certificate student Charlie McCarthy said climate change can't be allowed to fall out of the headlines.

"I am here because I want to fight for everyone's future and to make a difference. It is a big problem but it doesn't get the coverage it needs."

The protest was also attended by families. Sabina Menz from Crosshaven, Co Cork mother of Finbarr and Lyla who are aged two and four, said that it was vital to create a better world for future generations,

"I wish that people would take care of our children's future. There are many things we can do that we don't even know about."

Protestors in Cork held banners and placards bearing messages such as "The Emperor has No Clothes," "No Planet B" and "System Change not Climate Change."

The school strike movement started in August of last year when Greta Thunberg, then 15, held a solo protest outside the Swedish Parliament. Now, up to 70,000 school children each week hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide.

There are thousands attending the Dublin protest.

March for climate change action: 'We'll stop taking time off school when they stop taking time off our future'

One student said: "We're here to help save the planet because we are messing up this planet and we're not doing anything about it."

This is the third protest of its kind and has been inspired by the teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

One teacher from Skerries in Dublin said it was a no-brainer to let her students attend.

She said: "It's so important because our generation has made a mess of it, so all we can do is help to educate the kids on what to do now."

Dublin City University staff and students are taking part in the strikes with events at the university’s Glasnevin campus and St Patrick’s campus.

DCU's Director of Sustainability Samantha Fahy said: “DCU recognises that significant urgent action is required if we are to meet the challenges of climate change.

"Within DCU we are working to demonstrate sustainable solutions within our living lab environment as well as supporting our students to become global citizens understanding their impact internationally and intergenerationally.”

Those demonstrating are urging governments and businesses to take more urgent action on climate change ahead of a UN summit on the issue in New York next week.

- Additional reporting by Olivia Kellher

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