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Sunday 8 December 2019

Extinction Rebellion stages mock 'funeral' for Earth at gates of Dail

Extinction Rebellion Ireland protesters pulled a pink-painted sailing boat from Kildare Street to Merrion Square yesterday as they kicked off a week of 'daily direct action'.
Extinction Rebellion Ireland protesters pulled a pink-painted sailing boat from Kildare Street to Merrion Square yesterday as they kicked off a week of 'daily direct action'.

Dozens of climate change protesters have set up camp in Dublin city centre ahead of a week of "daily direct action".

Up to 500 Extinction Rebellion supporters took part in a mock funeral for planet Earth outside the gates of the Dail before pulling a pink-painted sailing boat from Kildare Street to Merrion Square.

The boisterous and good-natured march took protesters past no fewer than four Government departments, ensuring their message could be heard in the corridors of power.

Tents

A section of Merrion Square South has been cordoned off for the week and, by early yesterday afternoon, around 30 tents had been erected within the park.

Lorna Tierney, a member of Extinction Rebellion Kildare, camped out last night. She said they did not expect to be moved by Dublin City Council (DCC), which owns the park.

The Dublin protest is part of an international 'Rebellion Week' which is seeing demonstrations around the world.

In London, where protesters shut down roads around Parliament and Whitehall and blocked bridges, there have been more than 130 arrests.

Ms Tierney said she was not expecting arrests in Dublin.

"The guards are not the enemy. We don't plan to be causing too much trouble," she added.

Susan Breen, from Co Wexford, handed in a list of the group's demands to the Department of An Taoiseach.

She said they had written to DCC and had "a very nice dialogue with them and they've been very respectful".

In a statement to the Herald, DCC said organisers of the camp have "indicated they will endeavour to ensure that there is no damage done to the park and they have made arrangements for removal of waste and the provision of temporary toilets".

"The principle concern of DCC in relation to the park is that any activities are carried out in a safe manner. DCC will be monitoring the situation in co-operation with the gardai."

Student Jessie Bredican, who is studying applied social sciences in Galway, was one of the first to pitch her tent.

"I wanted to come here and add my physical being to the protest," she said.

"I think the real truth of the severity of climate change isn't being told to us by our leaders."

Earlier Corey Rothwell, from Tallaght, read out a 'eulogy' at the funeral in which he bade "farewell" to fossil fuels and capitalism, as well as "Starbucks, Tesco and online shopping".

Speaking afterwards, he said the protesters were "trying to be an alarm bell, a canary in the coal mine" and added: "We are dealing with the collapse of our civilisations."

While the march drew bemused looks from many workers on their lunch break yesterday afternoon, some passers-by were inspired to join the protesters' ranks.

Among them was Donna Anita Nikolaisen, her husband Mark Quinn and their one-year-old daughter Fleur, from Kilkenny.

"I was just up for a job, I'm an actor and I do voice work," said Ms Nikolaisen. "We were in the art gallery and saw the signs for the protest and decided to join.

Urgent

"How can you not be concerned about climate change when the seas are being turned into a plastic soup. The fact I have a child makes it even more urgent."

She suggested people will have to cut back on international travel and said if there have to be tax increases to tackle the problem then there "may have to be some pain".

While Extinction Rebellion is keeping much of its plans for the days ahead under wraps, it said it will stage a 'Budget for Climate Justice' outside the Dail today. The event will feature a "female fire breather" and "30 animal characters" and be choreographed by a theatre director.

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