Dublin school warns pupils off ‘infuriating’ climate strikes

Blackrock College writes to parents urging them to ensure sons do not take part

 Blackrock College, Dublin says ‘lights in the corridors, offices and classrooms will be turned off’ on Friday but pupils were told not to attend the  climate rally.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Blackrock College, Dublin says ‘lights in the corridors, offices and classrooms will be turned off’ on Friday but pupils were told not to attend the climate rally. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Blackrock College in south Dublin has called Friday’s school strike for action on climate change “a tad infuriating” and urged parents of students at the fee-charging school to ensure their sons do not take part.

Dozens of rallies are to be held around Ireland on Friday as part of the Fridays for Future movement, which calls on students around the world to skip school and stage demonstrations demanding action on climate change.

The movement began in August 2018 after Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who was then 15-years-old, sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis.

A similar day of action took place in March when climate strikes by school pupils were led by protesters in Dublin, where more than 11,000 marched on Dáil Éireann at lunchtime seeking urgent action to address the growing threat of climate breakdown.

The strikes have created a dilemma for school managers and Blackrock College principal Alan McGinty has written to parents of students at the all-boys school urging them to ensure their sons do not take part in Friday’s action.

“Next Friday sees a third schools’ protest for climate change,” he writes. “I find, like I’m sure a number of you do, these occasions a tad infuriating. Why do they have to be held on a school day? Why on a Friday?

“No one can deny the importance of the climate emergency but I feel attendance at these events has at best a neutral impact on the campaign and inevitably a negative impact on schooling.”

Mr McGinty pointed to a number of initiatives the school was taking to combat the climate crisis.

“Further to a meeting with our student leadership group, we have agreed that Blackrock students will be represented at the protest by out Green School’s Committee who will report back to the student body via the Student Council,” he said.

“The college will be proactive this Friday as part of the Global Action Day. All electricity connected to teaching and learning will be shut down during periods seven and eight.

“Lights in the corridors, offices and classrooms will be turned off. Classroom technology will be set aside. Bells will be silenced.

“In a meaningful and impactful way, these actions and those to follow will remind our school community of the enormous environmental challenges we face.

“Please ensure that your son remains in school on Friday. I look for your support on this. It is in everyone’s interests that school and the home are ad idem on such matters.

“This is environmental Awareness Week at Blackrock. It provides an occasion to consider how each one of us can make a difference. Please ensure that your son’s presence here next Friday makes a difference.”

Other schools have been giving advice to parents, with Alexandra College, a day and boarding girls’ school located in Milltown, Dublin, writing to parents to say that any students taking part must have written permission from parents.

Members of the Fridays for Future protesting about climate change outside the Dáil in February. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Members of the Fridays for Future protesting about climate change outside the Dáil in February. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

“It will, no doubt, have come to your attention that a number of protest events are to be staged across the country on Friday September 20th, coinciding with strikes by some schools for action on climate change,” writes principal Barbara Ennis.

“While we in Alexandra College are supportive of the need for action on climate change, we will not be taking part as a school in the event in the city centre on Friday.

“We suggest that you consider carefully whether it is advisable for your daughter to miss classes and be in the city centre during the gathering of such projected large crowds.

“Whatever your stance or that of your daughter on the matter, any girl from Alexandra College who wishes to take part in the strike must have written permission from parents/guardians in advance. Thank you for your support in this matter.”