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Green Party Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications Ossian Smyth.
climate protesters

Minister backtracks on comments made about climate activists throwing soup at artworks

‘I am in no way advocating that anyone follows this example,’ Minister of State Ossian Smyth has said.

GREEN PARTY MINISTER Ossian Smyth has backtracked from comments he made in the Seanad last week on the recent attacks on artworks in museums by climate activists. 

Addressing a group of young people in the Seanad last week, the minister said he understood that young people wanted to “see action” when it came to climate change. 

Referencing the recent attacks on artworks carried out by climate protesters, Smyth said seeing people throw tins of beans at paintings with glass over them is “a really effective thing to do”, stating that it “draws attention”. 

He went on in his address to state that “words help” the cause also, highlighting the work of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg.

“The power of her words moved people,” he said, stating that she changed the minds of many politicians. 

london-uk-14th-oct-2022-a-handout-photo-issued-by-the-group-just-stop-oil-shows-two-protesters-who-threw-soup-at-vincent-van-goghs-famous-1888-work-sunflowers-at-the-national-gallery-in-london-on Just Stop Oil protesters who threw soup at Vincent Van Gogh's famous 1888 work Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

However, his comments attracted widespread criticism on RTÉ’s Liveline programme today, with some listeners stating that he should resign for his comments.

In a statement today, the Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement, eGovernment and Circular Economy said:

“Last Friday while addressing a group of young people in the Seanad I acknowledged the immense anger they are feeling about how climate change is destroying their future as well as countless other homes and habitats around the globe.

“During my speech, I referenced how an art work which was covered in glass had food thrown over it by climate activists. While the action undeniably generated debate around climate change, I am in no way advocating that anyone follows this example.

“My speech also referred to how effective the work of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg had been in bringing political attention to the issue.

“Younger people are the generations who will be most affected by climate change. Measured activism as well as political dialogue will both play a part in how we combat climate change.”

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