‘Action can no longer wait’: Thousands turn out for climate protest in Dublin

Up to 200 demonstrations taking place across the globe amid crucial Cop26 talks

Several thousand people gathered in Dublin city centre to protest and call for firmer action from politicians and world leaders to tackle the climate crisis.

From primary school children to grandparents, the hundreds gathered at the Garden of Remembrance at noon on Saturday grew to thousands by the time the group started marching towards Leinster House.

The march was organised by a coalition of environmental groups, left-wing political parties, trade unions, student groups and other organisations.

The protests, to coincide with the crucial Cop26 summit, happened in several cities across the world and Ireland, including in Cork, Galway and Limerick.

Jessie Sheehan (17) from youth climate protest group Fridays for Future Dublin, said “action can no longer wait” and the pressing need to address climate change “had not stopped because of Covid-19”.

Speaking from a stage on Merrion Square, People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Bríd Smith criticised the Government’s new climate plan as a “regurgitation of the same old” policies.

Clare Austick, president of Union of Students in Ireland, said climate change has been on the agenda for the last 30 years but “very little sustainable change has happened” to date.

Gerry Loftus, a rural farmer from Co Mayo, told the crowd there had been a “continuous failure of successive governments” to take climate change seriously. Mr Loftus criticised what he described as the “industrialised business-led model of Irish agriculture”, which he said had to change.

Orla O'Connor, National Women's Council of Ireland director, said the makeup of world leaders at Cop26 in Glasgow was largely "pale, male and stale". She asked "where are the women?"

The Government’s climate plan failed to “recognise and commit” the State to a central role tackling global warming, instead focusing on “individual” changes, such as encouraging electric car uptake, she said.

“We’re marching for our sons and daughters to have a future world to live in,” she told the crowd.

Garda sources present at the march estimated the crowd size was between 3,000-5,000 people.

Emily Nichols (12), holding a hand-made sign about the environmental damage of using palm oil products, said she attended the protest with her mother Susan Rossney, because she was “concerned” about the climate crisis.

Ms Rossney said while the crisis was “deeply concerning”, there was also “great cause for hope”.

“I was very heartened by the climate action plan, I thought there was a lot of good stuff in there, and also by Cop, but we never can forget that we have to keep fighting every day,” she said.

Emily Price, from Co Clare, who marched dressed as a bee, said she felt current Government commitments to address climate change were “tokenistic”.

“I find the whole issue quite hopeless actually. I work with young children, I have elderly parents, everyone I know is affected by this,” she said.

Politicians did not appear to be taking on enough responsibility “in fighting for everyone’s future, including their own,” she said.

Around the cities

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, protesters congregated in Belfast ahead of a noisy and colourful march through the city centre before a planned rally at City Hall.

In Glasgow, protesters braved pouring rain and winds to march through the Scottish city where the United Nations climate conference is being held. Climate activists, trade unionists, politicians and other groups were part of thousands of marchers, amid a significant police presence.

A fire engine, women covered in moss and Poseidon on stilts have all turned out for the protest in Glasgow, while a group of children guided a display featuring what appeared to be a large snake wearing glasses through Kelvingrove Park.

In London, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Bank of England for the start of a march through the city, banging steel drums, chanting “one solution” and waving Extinction Rebellion banners reading “tell the truth”.

In total, some 200 events are taking place across the world, organisers of the Cop26 Coalition said.