herald

Sunday 8 December 2019

Restaurants fear city centre climate change protest will hit takings

A previous Extinction Rebellion protest last April
A previous Extinction Rebellion protest last April

Restaurant owners fear no-shows if customers are deterred from visiting Dublin city centre by climate change protests.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland will today begin a week of "non-violent direct actions", starting at 1pm at the gates of Dail Eireann, which is expected to draw large crowds.

They will then embark on a "climate walk" to a nearby location led by a pink sailing boat.

Similar events are take place in capitals around the world.

Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said people will try to avoid the city centre if they see there is going to be gridlock.

"I think it has to be managed properly," he told the Herald.

"Every cancellation we have in our restaurants, that's lost revenue to an industry that is struggling at the moment."

He said they were "concerned" but he hoped the public would use public transport or other means to make their way into the city centre.

He said the margins in the industry are "very tight" and that the industry has seen a drop in the number of UK visitors and is already feeling the effects of Brexit.

Mr Cummins added that this is a quiet time before the Christmas period, "so all of this doesn't help our business model".

Annette Jorgensen, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Ireland, said people from all over the country were set to attend today's events.

"We don't want to target any particular individual business owner. We are on their side. We feel that the Government has left us with no other choice," she said.

"We feel we have tried absolutely everything, we have signed petition after petition, and emailed and phoned politicians.

Disaster

"We had demonstrations, and they are still leading us down the road to absolute disaster, a disaster that will be so much worse than any disruption that we are able to cause in a week in Dublin."

She said the economy will "completely collapse" if climate chaos happens "and that is what we are trying to avoid by doing this".

"The main people we are trying to communicate with here is the Government," she said.

"We want them to acknowledge how serious the situation is. And that means they have to look at the science and take it on board."

A campsite will be set up at a nearby location with a kitchen and a canteen. "It's a family friendly atmosphere," Ms Jorgensen said.

The week will end on Sunday with an inter-faith vigil for victims of climate change around the world, she said, adding each day has a different theme.

A Garda spokesperson told the Herald that gardai have "a role in ensuring that peaceful protests can take place, and also in preventing injury and protecting life.

"Our objective with any such operation is to ensure the safety of the public.

"We respect people's right to peaceful protest and will facilitate same.

"Gardai attend protests to facilitate free movement of traffic and to prevent any breaches of the peace."

Meanwhile, more than 160 Irish academics had signed a letter of support for Extinction Rebellion by yesterday.

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