Thousands of young people were back on the streets after lockdown to demand that politicians take stronger action to curb climate change.
There were gatherings in Cork, Galway and Dublin at lunchtime on Friday, to coincide with similar rallies in cities around the world, as part of the global climate strike movement inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who joined a Fridays for Future protest in Berlin.
For many, it was their first time participating in school strikes for climate since the pandemic began, when restrictions halted the momentum of the movement.
But organisers of the rallies said they wanted to send a strong message to world leaders that they, and the massive crisis facing the planet, hadn’t gone away, with the protests being held amid dire warnings the planet faces dangerous temperature rises unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the coming years.
In Cork, students at UCC, including Alicia O'Sullivan, the students’ union’s environmental rep who was a UN delegate at the first UN Youth Climate Summit, gathered on campus for a pre-strike rally before they marched to the city to join hundreds of other students who skipped school to take part in the climate strike.
Ms O’Sullivan, a second-year law student, described the new climate bill as a stepping stone but said much more needs to be done.
“I’m demonstrating because I think we need more climate action not just in Ireland but globally, internationally, and to support countries that don’t have the money to have a just transition and to support people to a greener future,” she said.
are doing the wrong things, to support them to do the better things.”
Teenage climate activist, Amy O’Brien, 16, from Mitchelstown, said she hoped the staging of a rally in UCC before the main strike would help galvanise the movement and spread its message.
The rallies come a day after Taoiseach Micheál Martin opened a UN Security Council debate on climate change and global security and warned the climate crisis is a “code red” for humanity.
In his speech, Mr Martin said the Security Council must agree that extreme weather events are a cause and exacerbating factor of global conflict.
“A concerted multilateral response to climate change involving all the organs of the UN is urgently needed. That response must include this council. The impact of climate change is global and our collective security is at risk,” he said.
The Fridays For Future movement began after Greta Thunberg, who was then 15, first skipped school to sit outside the Swedish parliament to demand climate action.
The movement reached a peak in September 2019, when seven million people worldwide joined in, including 30,000 young people in Ireland – making it one of the largest global protests in history.