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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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'Disruptions' expected today as week-long climate protest kicks off in Dublin and around the world

Members of Extinction Rebellion Ireland will set up roadblocks and a campsite from midday in the city centre.

XR members staging a non-violent, direct action outside the gates of Leinster House in June.
XR members staging a non-violent, direct action outside the gates of Leinster House in June.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS, PLANNING to bring disruption to 60 cities around the world, 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. 

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

As previously reported, activists have said they expect to be confronted by gardaí for their actions during the week and aim to have some of those participating arrested.

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”.

extinction-rebellion-ireland-protest Members of Extinction Rebellion in July glued themselves together at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in Dublin. Source: Justin Farrelly/PA Wire/PA Images

XR’s encampment, the location of which has not been disclosed yet, will 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. 

A spokesperson for XR Ireland told TheJournal.ie that the group is made up of regular people who don’t want to cause disruption but feel there’s “no other option” but to step up their activism.  

“We don’t feel we’re being listened to, the only way to be listened to is to cause disruption. None of us wants to be doing this,” Susan Breen, XR international co-ordinator, said. 

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 of support states that 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”.

britain-climate-protests Climate activists sprayed hundreds of litres of fake blood on the Treasury Building in London. Source: Alastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

’20-30,000′ in London 

XR was established last year in Britain by academics and has become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements.

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

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.

We are going to very loudly, very clearly, very respectfully say that if a government is taking its people towards extinction, it is not a government anymore that we respect.

A sit-in is also planned at London City Airport.

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.

extinction-rebellion-activists-protest-paris ER activists holding a die-in in front of the Centre Pompidou, Paris Source: ANDBZ/ABACA

‘Awareness, music, joy, colour’

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.

“We are waging a just and legitimate fight to defend life,” a French activist in her 30s, who wished to remain anonymous, told AFP.

“Yes, there will be blockades, the way to make the government understand is to block the economy, but there will also be acts of raising awareness, music, joy and colour,” she added.

Over the weekend, hundreds of XR members occupied part of a shopping centre in southeast Paris, staying put into the early hours of Sunday morning.

In Germany, the organisation is planning several peaceful demonstrations in Berlin to block streets and parks through civil disobedience, claiming it is “the fastest way to bring lasting social and political change”.

“Peaceful, creative, colourful and determined!” it said.

“We continue to protest until governments respond appropriately.”

With reporting from Stephen McDermott and AFP

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