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Image / Editorial

Extinction Rebellion climate protest kicks off in Dublin and around the world


by Leonie Corcoran
07th Oct 2019

Members of Extinction Rebellion Ireland will set up roadblocks and a campsite from midday in week-long ‘festival of civil disobedience’. 


Environmental activists, planning to bring disruption to 60 cities around the world, including Dublin, will begin a week-long protest today.

Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Ireland will set up roadblocks and a campsite from midday for what is being described as a week-long “festival of civil disobedience”.

Organisers of the protest will gather outside the Dáil at 12pm and bring activists to a separate undisclosed protest site afterwards. They anticipate that over 1,000 people will take part in the “Climate Walk” which is due to begin at 1pm.

“The opening ceremony will include the symbolic planting of seeds of native trees by author, environmental activist and Chelsea Garden Show winning garden designer Mary Reynolds.”

Organisers say the “very visual and noisy parade” will be “led by a large pink sailing boat” and that there will also be flag bearers, colourful posters and music.

An ‘opening ceremony’ at the secret location is to kick off at 1.30pm. It will include the “symbolic planting of seeds of native trees by author, environmental activist and Chelsea Garden Show winning garden designer Mary Reynolds”.

Budget 2020

The location of XR’s encampment has not been disclosed yet. It is expected to form the main site of protests this week, but activists have pledged to demonstrate in different areas of the city to highlight a number of environmental issues.

A march through the city centre is also planned for tomorrow evening to coincide with the announcement of Budget 2020.

In media coverage over the weekend, activists have said they expect to be confronted bygardaí and aim to have some of those participating arrested.

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In a statement, gardaí said they would respect people’s right to peaceful protest and that they would facilitate efforts to do so, adding that they attend such protests to facilitate free movement of traffic and to prevent any breaches of the peace.

Dublin City Council said it would be working alongside gardaí in order “to assist minimising disruption to the public and supporting the public safety”.

In support of XR, 153 Irish academics – professors, department heads and senior lecturers at all Irish universities –  signed a letter calling on the government to “tell the hard truth” about the ecological crisis and to develop a credible plan for rapid and total decarbonisation of the economy.

The letter states the academics “will not tolerate the failure of this or any other government to take robust and emergency action in respect of the worsening ecological crisis” and that it is “unconscionable to us that our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of an unprecedented disaster of our own making”.

The week will end next Sunday with an inter-faith vigil for victims of climate change around the world.

Who are XR?

XR was established last year in Britain by academics. It has become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements. In Ireland, the organisation say it’s made up of regular people who feel there’s “no other option” but to become activists.

In London, XR hopes to get 20,000 to 30,0000 people on the streets to shut down the area around parliament and government ministries for two weeks.

A group spokesman said the protests could be five times bigger than those in April, when demonstrators took to the streets for 11 days, sitting down to blockade roads, bridges and intersections. Police made more than 1,100 arrests. A sit-in is also planned at London City Airport.

Another spokesman added: “We’re going to blockade and shut down every single road going into the central area of Westminster around the UK government.

Ahead of today’s demonstrations, XR used an old fire engine to spray 1,800 litres of fake blood over the front of Britain’s finance ministry in London in a protest over-investment in fossil fuel exploration.

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Paris

In Paris, different events are set to take place until 12 October on topics such as the ocean, plastic waste and migration linked to climate change. Traffic standstills and building occupations are planned.

Activists are stressing that the protests must be non-violent, but there are concerns about the response of the authorities.

In June, when activists occupied a bridge over the River Seine in Paris, group members were evicted by the authorities using tear gas fired at close range.

Images of the incident were widely shared on social media, leading to an investigation.


Read more: Why Greta Thunberg is my idol

Read more: Irish government to introduce ban and/or levy on non-recyclable plastics

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