Secondary school students call for free and green public transport to mark Earth Day

Protesters say if Ireland had better and more reliable public transport there would be less cars on the road

Students protested outside Leinster House in Dublin on Friday calling for " immediate free, green and expanded public transport".

Around 40 young people including members of the Irish Doctors for the Environment group gathered for the protest which was organised to mark Earth Day.

Students chanted “system change, not climate change” and held up posters stating “we love the Earth” and “free public transport”.

Fifth year student Maya O'Keeffe, one of the main organisers of the event, said the recent advice from the Minister for the Environment and Transport Eamon Ryan to help with the cost of living crisis, such as taking shorter showers and using appliances at off-peak times was "obviously not enough" to help people.


“If Eamon Ryan wants us to drive less, we need immediate free, green and expanded public transport networks,” Maya O’Keeffe said.

“We must put an end to the privatisation of public transport. Public transport is essential to reducing pollution and to promote a better standard of living for all.”

Maya O’Keefe said that public transport had to be accessible and nobody “should have to walk for more than five minutes for bus or train routes”.

Dr Callum Swift, from the Irish Doctors for the Environment, said it was great to see so many young people protesting but that "actually it's the people who are making decisions should be the ones acting, not the young people who will be the victims or the ones living through climate change".

Active transport

Dr Swift said making public transport free as well as investing in active transport, such as cycling and walking, was a “low hanging fruit” that Governments around the world were doing.

"People visit European cities and praise the amazing cycling infrastructure and the wonderful walking infrastructure and in Ireland we're not doing much on that front," he said.

Student Aoife Powell said as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report pointed out there was "a narrow window of time to reverse the worst effects of climate change".

“We have the science and we know exactly what needs to be done to avert the crisis so why haven’t we acted? Because governments across the world have put profit before people, before the science,” she said.

“Governments around the world have continued time and time again to give into pressures from wealthy corporations profiting from the slow, painful death of our planet.

“Governments around the world won’t even admit this with empty promises…targets set and timeframes that are far too late.”

She said if Ireland had better and more reliable public transport there would be less cars on the road and therefore less emissions.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times