Hundreds of Irish schoolchildren are set to go on strike on Friday March 15th because of the failures of adults to address climate change. The protest is part of a global action prompted by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.
In the build-up to the strike, which is supported by many teachers and parents, weekly protests have been held in Dublin, Cork and Maynooth since late December; part of a movement known as #FridaysForFuture. Similar protests occurred in Kilkenny and Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, on Friday for the first time.
The students are using social media to mobilise, while three separate teacher groups are helping to organise events around the country. Students in Galway, Limerick and Lifford, Co Donegal, confirmed this week they are planning climate strikes – most will be on March 15th.
More than 70 schools are understood to be considering action in solidarity with Thunberg. She has prompted strikes all over the world and repeatedly demanded that adults and politicians be held accountable for failure to adequately respond to “the climate crisis”.
North Wicklow Educate Together Secondary School teacher Kate Minnock, who is part of a teachers' group, said the level of support was hard to judge at this point, but school strikes for climate already had a significant presence in Ireland.
The solidarity of peers was tangible for young people, she believed. They see the impact of other actions around the world and sense “I can do something”, she added.
Students were heeding UN reports on climate change and realising how important they were. “Maybe up to now, it was not as black and white,” Ms Minnock said.
In a separate protest on Sunday, Extinction Rebellion Ireland (ERI) is hosting a memorial service on O’Connell Street, Dublin at 1pm marking the loss of loss of tens of thousands of species due to human activity.
ERI believes “it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by its government”.
It wants the Government to “declare a state of climate emergency” and inform the public about the seriousness of the crisis.
It is seeking full implementation of the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations on climate change and implementation of policies to reduce carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2030. Actions must be backed a just transition process, “where the most vulnerable are not expected to sacrifice the most”.