'Listen, Leo, Listen, 11 years left': Extinction Rebellion begin week of protests at the Dáil

Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion Ireland kicked off the international "Rebellion Week" with a city centre protest this afternoon.

Image of protestors walking down a street by the Dail holding banners and signs. At the front is agreen abnner that says Extinction Rebellion.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland (XRI) kicked off their week of protests with a 200-strong gathering outside the Dáil this afternoon. The chant, “Listen, Leo, Listen, 11 years left,” called on the Taoiseach to take increasing action in the face of the approaching deadline for a habitable Earth. 

Environmental activists belonging to the group Extinction Rebellion Ireland (XRI) have organised a week-long protest campaign which aims to put pressure on the government into taking more action on the climate emergency

“We feel that the government has left us no other choice,” stated XRI spokesperson Annette Jorgenson.

This week of actions, the second one this year, is part of an international ‘Rebellion Week’ taking place in many locations across the globe. 

The first Dublin-based action began this morning with a “funeral for the earth”, with a coffin being carried from Heuston Station to the Dáil, where a large crowd had gathered to make their voices heard. Carrying placards with slogans such as “Rebel for Life” and “The Choice is Yours: Extinction or Rebellion,” the group made its way from the Dáil to Merrion Square, led by a pink ship flying the Extinction Rebellion flag.

Image of a large pink boat saying Bigi Linn on the side, heading a protest walking down a street by the Dail.

A campsite was set up in Merrion Square and an opening ceremony for the week ahead took place with the planting of seeds of native trees by author and activist Mary Reynolds, and speeches by both XR members and members of other environmental groups such as the Dublin Ecofeminists. 

It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be family-friendly, it’s going to be disruptive, and it’s going to be fun,” stated the Facebook event description for today’s events, which will be followed by many actions around the city and the country. 

Each day of the week will have a different theme. The themes aim to recognise the many different aspects of the climate and biodiversity emergency; those whom it affects the most; and those responsible. For example, the Wednesday theme is “Solidarity with the Global South,” and the Friday, “Target Industry.” On Sunday, the week of protests will come to a close with an interfaith vigil for victims of climate change around the world. 

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

As part of the week’s events, the movement plans to block all the major roads in the city centre. Their main aim is to disrupt “business as usual”, for long enough that the government will notice and listen to their demands. “Blocking roads also disrupts business as usual, which is what is killing our planet; a fact we all must face.” 

Extinction Rebellion is a climate action movement founded in London in 2018 which aims to tackle the climate crisis through civil disobedience because more traditional approaches of “politeness, petitions and mild protest have not got us anywhere.” 

Many of the movement’s principles focus on civil disobedience and the potential to get arrested. An internal planning document states that “it is part of Extinction Rebellion’s aim to get people arrested”. 

However, they do state that the Gardai so far have been “unwilling to arrest any of our Irish rebels” and that arrests this week would be “unlikely.” XR has previously been criticised by other environmental groups for focusing so much on arrests as a central part of their movement.

Speaking to the Irish independent, a Garda spokesperson said that gardaí have “a role in ensuring that peaceful protests can take place, and also in preventing injury and protecting life. We respect people’s right to peaceful protest and will facilitate same.”

Organisers have stated that this week’s planned protests will comprise “non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience.” A planning document distributed to those planning to protest, states that the group will “welcome all rebels whether they are willing to be arrested or not”. 

The XRI movement has gained public support from many, including a group of more than 150 Irish academics who signed a letter of support for Extinction Rebellion yesterday.

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