Extinction Rebellion protests


Sir, – I hate protesting. It demands a host of behaviours I find terrifying, uncomfortable or downright annoying. The list is endless: being part of a crowd, singing in public, projecting my voice, acting like you care about something, actually caring about something and perhaps worst of all, walking slowly through town.

Managing to clear these hurdles and take to the streets only results in further guilt. How could you possibly moan about walking slowly when many disabled people can’t attend at all? You only went in for an hour, not the full day. You didn’t bother to help organise this protest, and you haven’t recruited any of your family and friends to join in. It may be best to seek refuge under the duvet, protect your mental health and just sit this one out. Perhaps this form of activism simply isn’t for you.

But when it comes to climate change, we have to reluctantly put these considerations on the back burner.

The science is in, and available to read in all corners of the internet and in every newspaper. The issue now is what to do about it. The Government needs to understand that halting climate change is a top priority for voters – and that we are looking for real action, not lip service.

In 2019, the Oireachtas declared a climate emergency while also turning the sod on a second runway at Dublin Airport. Despite the promises of the new Climate Action Plan, the Central Statistics Office estimates that the Government subsidises environmentally damaging activities such as the selling of fossil fuels to the tune of €4 billion per year. In a nutshell, Ireland has the third-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the EU, and is set to miss its EU emissions targets for 2020.

When you walk from Kildare Street to Merrion Square, as the Extinction Rebellion protests did this week, you pass Dáil Éireann; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; the Department of Finance; the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; and the Department of the Taoiseach.

Although the Government may not yet realise it, climate change affects the work of these offices – and all others. The workers in those buildings, perhaps even the TDs and Ministers, could see the size of the crowd. There was no ignoring the drums and the chants and the music, and every meeting that takes place in those buildings this week will surely start with a quick fumble to close the windows and an awkward chuckle about what is going on outside.

That matters. Your presence matters. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.