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'Our aim is to get people arrested': Climate activists gear up for week-long protest on streets of Dublin

Protesters are planning to block roads and cause disruption around the capital next week.

Extinction Rebellion protesters in Dublin earlier this year
Extinction Rebellion protesters in Dublin earlier this year
Image: Leah Farrell/

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS PLANNING to cause disruption over seven days in Dublin city centre next week have said they expect to be confronted by gardaí for their actions.

Members of the Extinction Rebellion group will set up roadblocks and a campsite from midday next Monday for what is being described as a week-long “festival of civil disobedience”.

The week-long ‘Rebellion Week’ will also see activists target businesses and industries in the capital, who they claim are responsible for polluting the environment.

Organisers of the protest will gather outside the Dáil at 12pm Monday and bring activists to the protest site afterwards, when they will promote illegal acts and aim to have some of those participating arrested.

“Extinction Rebellion promotes civil disobedience. Holding the barricades and blocking roads for example are illegal acts,” a planning document circulated by the group reads.

“Ultimately, it is part of Extinction Rebellion’s aim to get people arrested. In London, over 1,000 people were arrested and this was part of what drew so much attention to their rebellion.

“If the courts keep hearing the same message from us, that message will get through and more people will demand the urgent and radical action that is required.”

Organisers will also welcome those unwilling to be arrested, but say they “cannot guarantee” that people will not be arrested for simply attending the protest site, although they add that such an outcome is unlikely.

Right to peaceful protest

The week-long action will take place alongside demonstrations in other cities, and will be modeled on an Extinction Rebellion protest in London in April.

On that occasion, more than 1,000 people were arrested after a number of streets were blocked and encampments were set up in the city.

Irish activists say they will be based in Dublin only, as they believe that doing so will allow them to focus their efforts and provide better supports for those who wish to take part in the protest, particularly those who may be arrested.

They expect more than 1,000 people will attend the rally.

“Dublin is where the majority of big business, media – and most significantly – government are focused, and that is who we are challenging with this rebellion…” the planning document circulated by the group reads.

“We will be shutting down an area of Dublin City Centre to traffic, and opening it up for the people, so that the people in power can hear our voices and demands, loud and clear.”

extinction-rebellion-protests Extinction Rebellion demonstrators set up an encampment near Marble Arch in London in April Source: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images

The location of the proposed encampment has not yet been disclosed, but it’s expected that a week of entertainment, lectures and other activities will take place at the site.

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.

Asked whether blocking roads would be enough to see activists arrested, a garda spokesman said:

Gardaí are tasked with preserving law and order, without fear or favour, and with ensuring that people can go about their lawful business, including having access to their workplace, and that peaceful protest can also take place.
They will continue to uphold that principle while defending and maintaining the human rights of all involved.

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‘Our house is on fire’

The proposed encampment will form the main site of protests next week, but activists have pledged to demonstrate in different areas of the city during the week to highlight a number of environmental issues.

A march through Dublin city centre on Tuesday evening to coincide with the announcement of Budget 2020 is among the events being planned.

Manuel Salazar of Extinction Rebellion told that the purpose of causing disruption was to tell the government that it was not sufficiently dealing with the climate crisis.

“As far as we’re concerned, out house is on fire, so we have to break some windows to save people inside,” he said.

“We want to have a bit of disruption, but we don’t want to inconvenience people, so it won’t last too long. As soon as it reaches a certain point, things will go back to normal.”

The planned week of action follows a number of previous protests by the group in Dublin earlier this year.

In June, Extinction Rebellion activists formed a chain to block the door of the Department of Communications and Climate Action to protest against the government’s blocking of the Climate Emergency Bill.

Protesters also blocked O’Connell Street bridge in Dublin for a number of hours in April, in what was the first significant protest in Ireland as part of the international movement.

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