Fridays For Future - School Strikers Saving Our Planet


We spOKE to the young Climate pioneers on the frontline of Climate Justice in Ireland ahead of the Global Climate Strike taking place Friday, May 24th. fOR ALL FUTURE INFORMATION ON fRIDAYs FOR fUTURE STRIKES IN IRELAND VISIT HERE


Fridays for Future, Ireland

Saoi striking outside the Dail, Dublin. Photo by Laragh McCann

Saoi striking outside the Dail, Dublin. Photo by Laragh McCann

You run the Fridays for Future Ireland page. How and when did that come about?

I started the first student led strike in Ireland outside City Hall in Cork. When that strike began I made the Fridays For Future Cork page and then realised there wasn't an Irish one, so I just created that too. I tried to make it as inclusive as possible of all of the other strikes nationally as the movement grew. Now I no longer run the Fridays For Future Cork twitter and instagram pages. Darragh Cotter, one of our other awesome strikers from Cork, does that.

Are you looking forward to the march this Friday?

Yes definitely! I've been flat out busy in the lead up to it trying to get things organised so I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about what the day itself will actually be like. People coming together in defence of Climate Justice is always wonderful to be a part of, even though its sad that we have to be out on the streets demanding it. The mass of people and the energy of them is amazing and it definitely breathes new life into our activism when we get disheartened.

Despite having declared a Climate Emergency, do you believe our government is doing enough right now?

No. They are not just not doing the right thing, they are being handed opportunities to do the right thing constantly and each and every time they turn around and prioritise profits over planet.

What do you think is preventing people who may care somewhat about the Climate Emergency, but are not doing anything about it?

We have this culture of believing that apathy towards this kind of issue is normal or reasonable, the apathy is expected. That's part of why us being out on the streets making noise about this is radical, people don't expect it from us, especially as young people. Apathy is dead. 

What have been the most interesting parts of the last few months for you?

So many things, the turnout on march 15th was a major eye-opener for me, I knew that energy was there but I had no idea how many people were actually geared up to act on it - that was incredible.

Saoirse Exton

Fridays For Future, Limerick

Saoirse striking outside The Dail. Photo by Laragh McCann

Saoirse striking outside The Dail. Photo by Laragh McCann

Why should we be marching on Friday?

We should be marching on Friday because even though Ireland has taken the first, small step towards a better Climate, our government is doing nothing and we need to push them to do so.

Who is welcome?

Everyone is welcome. Whether you're 100 years old or 10 days, whether you're this gender or that, this race or that, it doesn't matter. We have to unite as the human race and halt our extinction.

Despite having declared a climate emergency, do you believe our government is doing enough right now?

I don’t think our government is taking enough action at all. Its all fine and well to say you are going to do something but you must follow up.

Is there anything in particular you’d like to see happen over the coming months to help the Climate Emergency (political or otherwise)?

I think we should start getting on track to the 2030 Paris Agreements. That would be amazing. I’d also love to see every city and county council declare a local climate emergency and begin to take clear action.

Amongst some adults theres an entrenched stigma towards environmentalists, vegans or anti fur groups where they’re dismissed as tree hugging, preaching hippies. What would you say to people who think like this?

I wouldn’t say anything. When the water's up to their knees, they'll realise, and if we make a change before then, they don’t matter.

What have been the most positive parts of getting involved in Climate Action for you?

I have made new friends, gained confidence, gained a feeling of belonging. And most importantly I feel like I’m doing something important.

Greta Thunberg has said we need a whole new way of thinking. What do you think need to be the core values of people moving towards an environmentally friendly future?

I think we, as countries, need to put aside our differences and unite. Its all about unity. Without unity we will fracture. Thats the most important step.


Fridays for Future, Cork

Darragh at a Friday Strike in Cork. Photo by Kiva Durkan

Darragh at a Friday Strike in Cork. Photo by Kiva Durkan

What is Fridays for Future? 

Fridays For Future is a global initiative started 39 weeks ago by Greta Thunberg. Every Friday youths across the planet strike from school in order to pressure their government to recognise the effects of climate change and act accordingly. The fundamental beliefs are; we want international governments to align themselves with the terms set out in the Paris Climate Agreement and to act based on the warnings outlined in the IPCC report which claims we have 11 years to limit the effects of climate change.

How did you get involved?

I got involved in the strikes eighteen weeks ago. The strikes had been gradually growing at this point with weekly strikes in Dublin. I wanted to get involved when I noticed that a friend of mine had already made plans for a strike in Cork. The first week it was just myself, Saoi O’ Connor and two of my classmates.

What inspired you to begin striking, and why do you believe the youth strikes are necessary?

I am scared. I am so far beyond petrified because I can envision my home on fire. I joined these strikes out of fear for our collective futures. Striking isn’t a hobby - it isn’t a game - it is a fear-driven last resort.

What measures would you like to see the Irish government take to address the climate breakdown we are facing?

Our national leaders must cease the prioritisation of economic growth over the survival of the species. They must stop shielding themselves behind issues such as Brexit to excuse themselves from taking concrete action.

What are your hopes for the Fridays For Future movement, and of our planet?

I sincerely want the Fridays For Future movement to end as soon as possible. When we see plans from our government to act radically and immediately in favour of our climate we will stop striking and I want nothing more than that. I pray that I can sleep at night knowing that climate breakdown isn’t an issue to be worried about. I want hope. I want ecological prosperity. I want a future.

Next Global Strike taking place Friday May 24th

Interviews by Kiva Durkan, Cormac Nugent and Laragh McCann.

Climate Love Ireland