Dubin city ground to a halt on Tuesday the 8th of October as members of environmental activist group, Extinction Rebellion, marched from the Gardens of Remembrance to Kildare street. The ‘Just Transition’ protest aimed to bring attention to one of the group’s main demands.
Extinction Rebellion demand that governments conform to a just transition model as they move towards a carbon-free environment which prioritises the most vulnerable. While the march progressed with police approval and escort, the day was not without incident with a number of climate activists being physically removed by the Gardaí on Tuesday at 7pm. The activists enacted a sitdown protest in order to block TDs from leaving the Dáil car park. This prompted the Gardaí to, as one member of the group described it, “manhandle” the members away from the gates. The protestors chanted “We love the Gardaí, we’re doing this for your kids too!” as Officers forcibly removed those sitting down away from the gate.
Students marches through the streets singing and shouting along to some memorable chants such as: “System Change not Climate Change”. The Just Transition March was not merely made up of students however, there were representatives from UCD People Before Profit standing side by side with the climate action group, UCD XR. Members from Veterans for Peace and representatives from United against Racism Ireland also attended the rally attempting to bring attention to the plight of climate refugees. Turnout estimates ranged from 300-600 however members of An Garda Síochana were unable to give out official estimates.
Memet Uludag, a Turkish immigrant and former People Before Profit County Council candidate in Castleknock was the first speaker outside the Dail. Uludag was followed by a speech from Extinction Rebellion Organiser Cormac Nugent. Posters such as “March now, or swim later” adorned the crowd which left chalk messages behind on the ground of Kildare Street before they returned to their base camp in Merrion Square: “I want it clean & green for Rex, he’s only 2!”.
Speaking exclusively to the Tribune, UCD Extinction Rebellion (XR) representative Adam Lawson explained why the group attended the Just Transition march, “We went to the Just Transition march because we, as XR, believe that a Just Transition is a vital part of the switch to a carbon-free economy.” Lawson went on to explain that XR demand that the government help workers transition from Carbon emitting industries into new industries in a way that will limit unemployment.
The group was active throughout the week with members attending actions from Dublin Port to the Department of the Environment and Climate Action. Some of these actions were organised by UCD students: one of which was the protest at Penneys on O’Connell’s Street. On Wednesday an estimated 85 people marched into the shop in order to protest the damage that ’fast-fashion’ does to the environment. The group placed facts about this damage into the pockets of clothes in the store such as: “Garments are the 2nd highest at-risk product category for modern slavery”. The protestors, with faces painted and banging drums, finished by demonstrating in the shop with loudspeakers, footage of which was posted on the Irish Times website.
Five Extinction Rebellion members were arrested after chaining themselves to the gates of Leinster House on Friday. Gardaí members formed a protective barrier between the gates and the protestors as they worked for up to two hours in order to remove the protestors from the gates. Video Footage posted to Extinction Rebellion Dublin’s Facebook page shows the crowd of protestors cheering in solidarity as each of the 5 members arrested were carried away from the scene.
The group also featured a mass “die-in” on Saturday blocking the southbound traffic on O’Connell’s Bridge, in order to highlight the suffering of those on the frontline of the climate crisis.
The group operated on-off road blocks and swarming tactics to inform commuters of the week’s events and to bring attention to the group’s cause. This took place in the same week that over 1,300 protestors were arrested across the U.K. which was capped off by former Irish Paralympian James Brown being accused of glueing himself to a plane in London City Airport.
UCD’s XR group welcomes new members and are contactable through their email: [email protected] or on Facebook: Extinction Rebellion UCD.
Hugh Dooley – Reporter