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Dublin: 20°C Wednesday 4 August 2021

'We're not going to stop': Extinction Rebellion activists begin week-long protest

Thousands of people joined the protest, before activists made camp in Merrion Square.

Activists march past Leinster House during today's protest.
Activists march past Leinster House during today's protest.
Image: TheJournal.ie

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE took to the streets of Dublin today as part of the first wave of Extinction Rebellion activity to hit the city this week. 

Protesters of all ages – equipped with a giant boat – marched from the Dáil to Merrion Square, which activists will turn into their camp for the next seven days. 

The Extinction Rebellion action comes as part of a week of global efforts to disrupt 60 cities around the world as activists demand drastic government action on climate change. 

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”.

Seven days of action

The site in Merrion Square will form the main site of protests this week, with food, talks and music events all planned for the coming days. 

However, activists have said they’ll bring their demonstrations to different areas of the city to highlight a number of environmental issues.

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, but protesters today praised the response of the gardaí so far. 

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

IMG_6795 Extinction Rebellion activist Sarah Breen with a letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Source: TheJournal.ie

 “We’re not going to stop”

Julianne Flynn, one of the leaders of the march today, told TheJournal.ie “a lot of people are here for really emotional reasons”. 

“A lot of people are here for their children’s futures. There’s nothing more important than that really,” she said. “We need to show the government that we’re not going to stop. To do that you’ve got to cause a bit of disruption.”

The demonstration today started in Heuston, as organisers planned a symbolic “funeral procession” through the city towards the Dáil. 

“Walking with that procession was pretty grim,” Extinction Rebellion organiser Eoin Campbell said. “I’ve got kids at home, I want to be home with my kids. I’ve got a job, I’ve got work. We all have our busy lives but the reality of the science is in front of us.”

The march is coinciding with the Budget tomorrow, in which finance minister Paschal Donohoe is expected to announce an increase in the carbon tax. 

“I don’t think as a group we have a direct position on it but a carbon tax, if business as usual, will probably be very unfair to the poor people in society. So we need something that is fair for people,” Campbell said. 

Campbell said Extinction Rebellion was sorry for any inconvenience caused but said the issue was a matter of “life and death”. 

“If you listen and feel in your heart what we’re saying, you’d probably come and join us. because we’re talking about life and death. We’re talking about species extinction, human extinction,” he said. 

TD Paul Murphy, who recently launched a new political group RISE with a call for a ‘Green New Deal’, said that he thinks the protests “will help focus attention, given it’s Budget week, on the need for radical action on climate change”. 

Activists sang, chanted and cheered on their way to Merrion Square, before speakers addressed the crowd.

“None of us should have to be here. I shouldn’t have to be here. I’m 20. I should be in college,” student Leontien Friel Darrell said to cheers. 

IMG_6706 Protesters carry a coffin during today's demonstration. Source: TheJournal.ie

“How dare our politicians to lie and pretend they care? Our lives are on the line,” she said. 

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As action kicked off in Dublin, protesters were also taking to the streets in London and in cities around the world. 

Extinction Rebellion protesters brought Westminster to a halt as they demanded that the Government takes urgent action on climate change and wildlife losses.

Activists say the protests could be as much as five times bigger than those held in April, which brought major disruption to London and saw more than 1,100 arrests.

Twenty-one people had already been arrested in the city by 8am this morning. 

Action is also taking place in Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam and New York.

With reporting by Adam Daly and Press Association. 

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