Brexit: Update after a crazy week

Brexit: Update after a crazy week

Confused about what Brexit actually means and how it will impact you? This month, STAND’s Brexit Series will help you understand how we got in this situation, what the proposed deal contains, where the negotiations are at now, and how a no-deal will impact Ireland, the UK and more widely the EU. If you missed the first pieces, no worries, there are here and here.

This third article will give you an insight of the busy week it’s been in Westminster! As it was sometimes hard to keep up, STAND put together a small recap, so you can catch up on all the events that happened during this crazy busy week over in the UK!

 

Johnson’s new deal: what does it state? 

The new deal crafted by PM Boris Johnson, especially the new Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, gets rid of the controversial “backstop” clause from PM May’s deal and replaces it with something… Quite similar in a way. The idea is that Northern Ireland would leave the European customs union (the tariff-free trading area), but would keep following the Union’s single market rules (safety standards for all goods, including food) which are the most complex to check. To do so, there would be a border in the Irish sea and a few “points of entry” at the Irish border. The UK intend to have officials at those “points”, but the EU would have the right to have its own officials there too. 

Northern Ireland’s assembly would have to give its consent to this solution, but not until 2025. If the assembly reaches a majority, it will have to vote again on this matter four years later. If it reaches a cross community majority (meaning a majority in both nationalist and unionist votes), then they’ll meet again to discuss this issue eight years later. If the assembly votes against this option, it would have two years to discuss the “necessary measures” for the future. However,this assembly has not been seating for over a thousand days now! If this should still be the case by the time to vote comes, an alternative for the vote to happen should be found. 

In regards to the transition period, the citizens’ rights, the financial issues, and the future relationship between the EU and the UK, the new deal sticks to what was agreed on in PM May’s deal.

 

This week: what happened? 

17th October: The European Council endorsed PM Johnson’s deal. 

19th October: What was supposed to be a “Super Saturday”, ended up being more of a “Nice-try Saturday”. The British Parliament met on a Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War (1982). PM Johnson’s plan was to submit his deal, endorsed by the European Council, to the vote of its parliament. In the UK, sticking to plan seems to be quite unusual. In fact, MPs vote on the deal was adjourned by Olivier Letwin’s interesting amendment. The ex-Tory MP argued that Brexit had to be delayed until national laws and bill implementing Brexit according to the deal would be passed. The House of Commons did approve the amendment by 322 against 306. In the end, the parliamentarian didn’t even get the chance to vote on the deal. 

With this mishap, the British Prime Minister was forced to ask the EU for an extension, to comply with the Benn Act preventing a “Hardloween” Brexit. More than unhappy to do so, PM Johnson found funny enough to send not one but two letters to the EU. The first one asked for an extension but was not signed by the politician. On the contrary, the second letter, recalling how a bad idea would be delaying Brexit, was properly written and signed by the British leader. 

22nd October: With 329 votes in favour and 299 against, the House of Commons approved in principle the deal negotiated by PM Johnson. This opens the work of legal transition of the deal into British legislation. But this was almost too easy. MPs voted against Johnson’s idea to pass the legislation implementing Brexit in just three days. So far, any Brexit-related law took between ten to forty days to be passed. Therefore, the Brexit process is “paused” while waiting for an answer from Brussels regarding the granting of an extension.

23rd October: To avoid a no-deal, EU leaders said they agree on an extension. But they don’t agree on how long the extension should be. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, suggested to delay Brexit until 31stJanuary 2020, such as asked by the British Prime Minister in its first letter. Both Germany and Ireland support this three-month extension, while France would rather see the delay be shorter, as the UK only need a little more time to pass legislation. We should hear from the European Council later on today.

24th October: If the European Union grants a three-month extension, the British Prime Minister announced that he intends to give more time to british parliamentarians under one condition: that MPs vote next week in favour of holding a general election on the 12th December. In that scenario, PM Johnson would hope to see his deal approved before the Parliament’s dissolution at the beginning of the campaign on the 6th of November. If the extension granted by the EU should be shorter, then PM Johnson would try and pass his deal in Parliament again.  

 

Photo by Brigitte Mackscheidt on Flickr

 

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From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

Why the UK’s Contact-Tracing App is not the Solution

Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

A Closer Look at Tourism: Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! We answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the this can be dealt with.

Five Stages to Freedom and the New Zealand Confusion

On Friday May 1st Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a five stage plan for reopening Ireland after the coronavirus lockdown. This plan will go into effect on May 18th and will continuingly unlock restrictions at three week intervals if Covid-19 numbers continue to be stagnant or lessen. If Covid-19 numbers increase then Ireland may go back into lockdown as a result. The biggest take away from this is that most people are not going to have a bit of craic until stage 4 or 5.

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

On Monday, a plenary session was held in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Assembly, which has not sat in over a thousand days, was brought back together to try and vote about the decriminalisation of abortion and the legalisation of same sex marriage. 

 

What happened and why now?

Since January 2017, Northern Ireland lives without an Executive and an Assembly. So, eventually, Westminster had to pass a bill to keep these institutions running. On the 24th of July 2019, the Northern Ireland Act was granted. This bill extends the period for forming a new Northern Ireland Executive and states 13th of January 2020 as the new deadline for negotiation (which is pretty soon in negotiating time).

But this is not the only interesting thing about that bill. Labour MPs Conor Mc Ginn and Stella Creasy submitted two smart amendments to the vote: if by midnight the 21st of October 2019, no executive power was up running in Northern Ireland, then abortion would be decriminalised and same sex marriage would be legalised. The amendment passed easily in Westminster with 383 votes in favour and 73 against. 

As the due date was getting closer, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had a desperate attempt to stop this modernisation of Northern Ireland. It gathered more than 30 signatures of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA – Northern Ireland parliamentarians), the minimum required for a petition of concern. Therefore, the DUP was allowed to express its concerns before the assembly, called back for the occasion. 

The Social Democratic and Labour parties came but walked out during the session to protest. Several parties, such as Sinn Féin, Alliance, Green Party and People Before Profit, didn’t attend the session, acknowledging the “political stunt” of the DUP and the TUV (Traditionalist Unionist Voice). “They knew it was a political stunt that was going to fail and have no effect. But they did it anyway. In my view, they didn’t do themselves any favours and they didn’t do these institutions and the efforts to reestablish them any favours”, says Sinn Féin’s MLA for East Derry, Caoimhe Archibald (see full interview below).

Eventually, abortion and same-sex marriage rights were not even discussed in what was a really short session. Less than one hour was all the time needed for the (DUP) Speaker to deny the vote and debate on the concerns expressed through the petition. In fact, it would be controversial if he’d decide whether to hold a vote or not in the Assembly. A new Speaker has to be elected on cross-community basis for a long time now, and only this new Speaker would be entitled to make such a decision to hold a vote or not. 

 

What legal regime during the transition period and afterwards? 

So here we are, after 21st of October 2019. Northern Ireland didn’t get an Executive on Monday. No bill was able to be passed in the Assembly. Section 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, criminalizing abortion, have been repealed and new abortion regulation should be implemented in the North by the 31st of March 2020. 

From now on, no criminal charges can be brought against any women getting an abortion, nor against anyone delivering an abortion. All the current investigations and cases made against women seeking an abortion in the past and not closed yet, will be dropped.

Between now and the end of March, women can’t hope to get an abortion on Northern Irish soil unless they meet the criteria of “fatal or serious fetal anomality” and are not pregnant for more than 28 weeks. So, for a little longer, women will have to travel to Britain. However, they can call the Central Booking in England and their travel and accommodation expenses will be funded, regardless of the individual’s income. One carer’s expenses can also be covered, so that women don’t have to go through the abortion process on their own oversea. 

From April, two sites in Northern Ireland will be open to abortion. The North should be one of the first jurisdiction to organize buffer zones around the abortion sites, prosecuting anyone trying to protest in the area. Also, medical staff should get proper training on abortion cares. 

The British Government has until the 13th of January 2020 to legalise gay marriage. As a 28-day notice is needed before a wedding can take place, the first gay marriage in Northern Ireland should be celebrated around Valentine’s Day, in February 2020. 

 

What was the legal regime so far?

So far, in Northern Ireland, women could only get an abortion if there was a “risk of real and serious adverse effect on their physical or mental health, which is either long term or permanent”. This regime of exception went against the Abortion Act 1967 that makes abortion legal on several grounds up to 28 weeks in Britain. More than 1,000 Northern Irish women travel to Britain every year to get an abortion. 

Same sex marriage was neither performed nor even recognized in Northern Ireland. Civil Partnership was granted to gay couple in 2005, and presented as an adequate alternative. 

 

 

Photo and video by Shannon Takahashi 

 

Watch down below the full interview of Sinn Féin’s MLA for East Derry, Caoimhe Archibald and a vox-pop made on Queen’s University’s campus (Belfast) on Monday Morning.

How Looking Good Can Help the Environment – Sustainable Fashion from the Ones in the Know

How Looking Good Can Help the Environment – Sustainable Fashion from the Ones in the Know

This week, Trinity students gathered in a full auditorium to hear from slow fashion influencers about how they can make their wardrobe more sustainable. Alba Mullen, a final year Politics and Economics student in Trinity College Dublin, who also runs her own sustainable fashion page called Traashion, moderated a panel of some of Ireland’s most prominent sustainable clothing activists in the Slow Fashion Panel Discussion and Upcycling Masterclass. This event was held on Tuesday night and run by STAND and Suas Trinity as part of the annual STAND Student Festival.

The lecture theatre was packed as Geraldine Carton from Sustainable Fashion Dublin, DJ and influencer Tara Stewart, Genevieve Sann from Transparent Magazine and Dylan (Dread X) Chapman from ILL Hippie lined the stage.

The opening discussion focused on how each panel member first got into the area of sustainable fashion. Carton, the cofounder of Sustainable Fashion Dublin, was inspired to leave her job with a women’s magazine after questioning all aspects of the clothing production process. She co-created Sustainable Fashion Dublin as an initiative to promote the “positive, guilt-free aspect of sustainable fashion.”

For Stewart, while working unaware as an influencer for a fast-fashion clothing brand, she was put in contact with Sustainable Fashion Dublin and promptly ended her contract on moral grounds. “I love upcycling and making clothes that I like, making them work for me.”

Chapman began to look at men’s clothes differently when he was around sixteen years of age – the complete lack of catering for men’s fashion and ability to express themselves, especially in Ireland, encouraged him to get involved in slow fashion.

As for Sann, two years ago the Netflix documentary The True Cost (a documentary thrown around a lot throughout the evening) opened her eyes to the problem and inspired her to create her magazine, Transparent.

Many tips were given by the panellists throughout the course of the evening:

  1. Look at your own wardrobe and look at what you have, as we go through four times more clothes than our parents, and keep them for only half as long
  2. Swap clothes with your friends as they’ll more than likely have similar interests and styles
  3. Use apps like Pinterest for information on reworking something you have already or tailoring something you’ve found
  4. Use resources like Depop to buy used clothes but be careful that they are authentic and not just bulk-bought
  5. Buy local so you know exactly where your clothes are coming from and how they are made
  6. Attend Swapshops, like the one run by Sustainable Fashion Dublin
  7. Go to charity shops to both support the charities and keep it sustainable

An extra piece of advice is not to give to clothing banks. In fact, they give a lump sum of only three per cent to the represented charity of the huge figure they receive from textile recycling. Instead, Carlton recommends to donate directly to the charity shop, labelling bags as “sellable” and “recyclable”. This way, shops can gain seventy per cent of the figure from textile recycling.

Carlton also explained greenwashing. “When a brand promoting sustainability overemphasises how ‘good’ it is, it’s usually hiding its ‘worse’ things… 90% of the other clothes are being made in horrendous conditions.” For example, she revealed that the Aral Sea has actually decreased to one tenth of its size due to its water being taken to grow cotton plantations.

Stewart recommended “treating getting out of fast fashion as breaking a habit” – don’t shop while bored, unfollow certain influencers and within a few months even your ads on social media will change. Chapman emphasised the amount of resources available for self-education on the topic – “open your mind and engage with each other.” If retail therapy is your downfall, then find something else to replace it with.

As for the most important takeaway for each panellist, Stewart maintained that you should not beat yourself (or your friends!) up about sustainable fashion. Instead, “really see it in a more positive light”. Carlton mentioned elongating the lifespan of your own clothes and emphasised that sustainable fashion is not supposed to be regimental or boring. “It’s a way to express yourself, have fun and decrease your carbon footprint!” Chapman, the only male on the panel, said to be logical with your clothes – “do you really need to get that same shirt in a different colour?” Sann said to “just try your best, be critically minded, and don’t fall into greenwashing traps!”

Following a quick and easy DIY solution to one-use cotton pads by cutting up and sewing old towels and t-shirts, Carlton really summed up the whole atmosphere of the evening. “It’s not about a small amount of people being perfect, it’s about a huge amount of people making incremental changes.” No shaming or passive aggression was directed towards those who “shop fast” – in fact, many of the panellists themselves are only very recent converts to the world of fast fashion – just a sense of understanding. There was an emphasis on “doing your part” and just being positive about fashion overall.

 

 

Photo of the Slow Fashion Panel Discussion and Upcycling Masterclass by Shannon Takahashi, 

 

 

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The Emerald Isle? Taking a Closer Look at Dublin’s Biodiversity

With people realizing the importance of nature and green spaces during their confinement in lockdown, and it being the International Day for Biological Diversity, let’s see how Dublin city stacks up.

From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

Why the UK’s Contact-Tracing App is not the Solution

Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

A Closer Look at Tourism: Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! We answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the this can be dealt with.

The Fixable Fact of Homelessness in Ireland

The Fixable Fact of Homelessness in Ireland

By July 28 this year, the homeless population of Ireland reached a staggering 10,275. The number of homeless families has increased by 178 per cent since June 2015, with more than a 1000 per cent rise in the number of families becoming homeless every month since 2011. This astronomical number does not even include “hidden homelessness” – people living in squats, staying indefinitely with friends, those in domestic violence refuges or even those who are sleeping rough. The official rough sleep account in Dublin in April 2019 was 128 people.

For Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen, the solution to homelessness is clear – more social housing and more affordable rental accommodation. But is it quite that simple? Maybe it is.

Of course structural factors are prominent in the direct causes of homelessness. One cannot deny the effects of the housing market – people are being pushed out of their homes due to high rents, landlords selling up and an overall shortage of properties to rent at all. In some cases, life’s circumstances such as mental illness, relationship breakdowns or addiction, can cause people and families to become homeless quite suddenly. However it may be submitted that there is something more fundamentally flawed that remains rooted in the people that have the power to change things.

Every person in Ireland is painfully aware of the horrors of homelessness . Those growing up in Dublin especially have grown grossly accustomed to the sight of homeless people, or young children going to school out of bed-and-breakfasts, or students crashing on their friend’s couches as they cannot afford their rent at the moment. It is a sure sign of something inherently wrong when these statements simply don’t faze anyone anymore.

While the stark figure of 10,000 homeless seems daunting and unapproachable, the solution is just within our grasp. A solution to the every-growing “Homelessness Crisis” is perhaps not as distant as we perceive. So why is the government making no visible effort to tackle the issue in any tangible way? There is certainly a stigmatised view of the cycle relating to homelessness – a slight feeling that perhaps these people put themselves in this position and we should leave it up to them to remove themselves of it, one of those phenomena that is terrible in theory but bizarrely appears to be acceptable in practice through a warped sense of victim-blaming. However, a dehumanised approach to homelessness will hardly solve the urgent crisis at hand. The small and incremental actions that are currently being taken are almost insignificant compared to the rapid rate of the growth of homelessness right now.

Greta Thunberg has recently emerged as a global leader, working diligently to combat climate change. Yet her discourse is undeniably appropriate in a discussion on homelessness. At the UN Climate Action Summit, though referring to a very different topic, she stresses: “You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”

Amidst a disheartening crisis, it is essential that the public maintains hope and focuses on working toward the solution, not the problem at hand. Focus Ireland has provided some recommended figures earlier this year – €400 million to deliver 2,000 social homes in addition to 7,716 homes in 2020, the approval of a €1.3 billion borrowing capacity to finance 6,500 new social homes by 2021, an “innovate homeless prevention” fund of €500,000 and €250,000 to fund mediation services. They also recommend a vacant home tax to return units back into the “active housing supply”, the provision of Case Managers and Family support teams, the restoration of domestic violence services, an increase of Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payments. Ireland’s rainy day fund, which will be worth approximately €2 billion by the end of next year, would more than cover this. And I cannot think of a better cause for these funds than the eradication of homelessness, once and for all.

 

 

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

 

Want to learn more about how the housing crisis is impacting students in Ireland? Listen to the STAND Student Podcast – Episode 1

 

 

What Coronavirus Reveals about the Economic Stories We Tell

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COVID-19: How to Escape!

As people, many for the first time in their life, become tired of staring at a phone screen, they begin to look for other ways of entertaining themselves. This is where escapism comes in.

A Day in the Life of an Irish Nurse

During these trifling times, we find ourselves isolated from society, worried for our loved ones, terrified of our invisible enemy. Our frontline heroes: the medical staff are working what seem to be endless hours to bring us the best care we could ask for, easing our minds in the midst of worldwide panic. It was never a secret that medical staff have tough jobs. This article will be featuring one of our heroes, a dedicated and hardworking Irish nurse who decided to open the doors of her life working and dealing with COVID-19 in Ireland.

This battle must be halted: Why the war-based rhetoric of Covid-19 should be defeated

For nearly two months now, we have watched as Covid-19 has rampaged through the world at an alarming rate.Throughout its incessant reporting, we have experienced our fair share of war imagery permeating through the media. Words like defeat, enemy, frontlines, field hospitals, battle, fighting, conflict, risk, attack; and, eventually (hopefully), victory, are seemingly constants in its coverage. Ministers meet in “war cabinets” and the ordinary people are encouraged to “do their bit”. Doctors, nurses, supermarket staff, cleaners, public transport workers, post office workers and all other essential workers are going into battle on our behalf. One BBC presenter even communicated his entire segment in terms of the “frontline in a war”.

No, the Coronavirus Is Not Good For the World.

As of Friday 17th April 2020, Ireland is three weeks into official lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. While societies globally need optimism and hope to navigate this crisis, there are many whose lives have been changed forever, lives lost, mental health deteriorating, and much worse.

Why Ireland’s Criminal Justice System Needs to Rethink the Use of Prisons

Irish prisons are overcrowded, resulting in prisoners sleeping on mattresses on the floor, or tripling up in cells. Some would argue that this means we need to build more prisons. But what about considering the opposite approach – reducing the number of people we decide to lock away from the rest of society?

Did the Greta effect fail in the US?

Did the Greta effect fail in the US?

 

With Trump’s administration, talking constructively about climate change on US soil is not an easy task. Ask Greta Thunberg. However, advocates of a Green New Deal are not backing down…

 

 

The Greta Thunberg’s effect in the USA

On the 18th of September, Thunberg took the floor in front of the US Congress. With a clear reference to Martin Luther King, she stated: “I also have a dream: that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences”. In a country where climate change is “being discussed as something you believe in, or not believe in”, “It is time to face reality, the facts, the science.” As she emphasised the necessity to address climate change as the emergency that it is and recalled that there was no way to cut a deal with Mother Nature, some listened carefully while others rolled their eyes.

A few hours later, what sounded more like a good ad than a “short-film”, starring herself and the journalist Georges Monbiot, was released. Through it, they intended to promote their “Protect. Restore. Fund.” slogan and to show that more can be done thanks to “natural Climate solution”. In the video, we learn that only 2% of the funding granted to the decrease of CO2 emissions is invested in natural tools, such as replanting enough trees.

On Friday, global climate strike day, Thunberg stood in front of about 250.000 strikers in New-York’s Battery Park. “We will make them hear us”, “we are a wave of change”, “this is what people power looks like” she said, as her speeches seems to become more and more revolutionary.

A few days later, Thunberg spoke at the Youth Climate Action Summit, held on the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Thunberg was one of the lucky activists who was given a visa on time and could indeed talk in front of the Assembly. She hammered that “we are at the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” In the end, “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

About what could be expressed at the Summit, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, was clear to world leaders: there is no need to take the stage if it’s not to develop “concrete and transformative” plans. “We had enough talk”, “this is a climate action summit” (emphasis added). “Nature is angry”, so it’s about time to implement the Paris Agreement. 

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, said that “Germany sees its responsibility on the international stage and on the national stage”. This is a lot more than we would never hear from the United-States President, Donald Trump, who tried as hard as he could to avoid attending the summit, and finally stayed 15 minutes without saying a single word. 

Later on that day, 16 children including Thunberg, aged between 8 and 17, coming from twelve different nations, filed a complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. According to them, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey breached the most widely ratified treaty in history, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, by letting children’s lives being impacted by the climate crisis. These nations are amongst the most polluting countries. One may wonder why the United-States, the historical biggest polluter, and China, the current biggest polluter, aren’t on the dock. The reason is simple: those two states never ratified the Third Optional Protocol of the treaty which allows children, or adults representing them, to seek justice for alleged violations.

 

 

US presidential campaign & the Green New Deal 

The Green New Deal (GND) is a ten-year plan aiming at economic justice while addressing climate change. It has already been discussed in the American political sphere. After being rejected by the Senate in March 2019, some Governors adapted and implemented the Deal in their State.

While Republicans resolutely oppose the GND, Democrats embrace it. So far, Trump’s campaign only states that he had done an incredibly good job in increasing the oil and gas exploitation and exports. He also congratulates himself for undoing the Clean Power Plan. Nothing eco-friendly to be found here… As for the other Republican candidates for the 2020 presidential elections, they still have no idea what their election platform will be like, except for advocating not being Trump.

On the Democratic side, election manifestos are actually written, and each includes a point about climate change. All claim wanting a fair transition to a neutral emission State. Some of the candidates even have co-sponsored the GND in the Senate. 

As the campaign moves forward, it will surely be interesting to see the place climate change gets in the national debates. 

 

 

Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to get our top news straight to your inbox.

 

 

What Coronavirus Reveals about the Economic Stories We Tell

The coronavirus is showing up holes in our economic system and narratives that many have talked about for a long time. If we don’t learn these lessons now, what will it take to learn them?

COVID-19: How to Escape!

As people, many for the first time in their life, become tired of staring at a phone screen, they begin to look for other ways of entertaining themselves. This is where escapism comes in.

The Emerald Isle? Taking a Closer Look at Dublin’s Biodiversity

With people realizing the importance of nature and green spaces during their confinement in lockdown, and it being the International Day for Biological Diversity, let’s see how Dublin city stacks up.

From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

Why the UK’s Contact-Tracing App is not the Solution

Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

A Day in the Life of an Irish Nurse

During these trifling times, we find ourselves isolated from society, worried for our loved ones, terrified of our invisible enemy. Our frontline heroes: the medical staff are working what seem to be endless hours to bring us the best care we could ask for, easing our minds in the midst of worldwide panic. It was never a secret that medical staff have tough jobs. This article will be featuring one of our heroes, a dedicated and hardworking Irish nurse who decided to open the doors of her life working and dealing with COVID-19 in Ireland.

‘’Keep the Carbon in the soil, no more coal, no more oil!’

‘’Keep the Carbon in the soil, no more coal, no more oil!’

‘’When you were my age did you know what climate change meant?!’’ These were the cries from an eight year old climate activist standing in front of close to 10,000 of protestors assembled in Merrion Square last Friday 20th September. Those present nodded and cheered passionately, brandishing posters with angry declarations chastising the government for their apparent apathy towards the climate crisis and lack of affirmative climate action. The sentiments ranged from ‘’Grandparents for Climate Action!’, ‘’I can’t believe I’m protesting FACTS!!’’ to ‘’I’m missing my lessons to teach you a lesson!’’.

The Irish crowds were not alone, as across the world approximately 2,300 Strike for Climate protests were staged in over 130 countries. The assembly of climate protestors seen in Dublin last Friday occurred in solidarity to Greta Thunberg, the young activist behind the school strike for climate global movement. 

It all started about a year ago, when Swedish teen Greta, then an unknown 15 year old school girl,decided that she would skip school and protest outside the Swedish government buildings, disillusioned with the government’s insufficient action regarding climate change. Her reasoning? If the adults leading the world don’t care about her future, then why should she? Her actions garnered attention and a new climate movement was born: Fridays for Future. The idea is that students will continue to strike every Friday, reflecting Greta’s message. Greta’s honesty regarding her feelings of despair, anxiety and anger in the wake of her understanding the effects of anthropogenic activity on the natural world resonated with the burgeoning number of climate activists. Greta served as a catalyst for the explosive expansion of the youth voice in the climate change debate.

It has become glaringly apparent that age has nothing to do with lack of understanding of the urgency of climate change. While protestors as young as seven shouted, cried and stomped their feet for a brighter future, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was busy opening a new runway in Dublin airport. While An Taoiseach is the leader of the Irish political climate, his actions show a clear lack of direction regarding our changing climate.

One could despair at the irony of our own Taoiseach supporting the expansion of the Irish aviation industry, one of the most carbon polluting industries, while citizens flood the streets in frustration over the lack of stern action on climate. However, this is the kind of hypocrisy that led to these protests. As Greta Thunberg highlighted when addressing the EU Commission earlier this year: “We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and the extinction rate is 10,000 times faster than what is considered normal, with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day.’’

“Erosion of fertile topsoil, deforestation of our forests, toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife, the acidification of our oceans; these are all disastrous trends being exhilarated by a way of life that we, in our financially fortunate part of the world, see as our ‘right’ to simply carry on,” she added.

If last Friday’s protest demonstration and indeed the ongoing public debate regarding climate change are anything to go by; it is clear that citizens are listening to the warnings from scientists and turning their fear and despair into anger and action. 

The protests mark the beginning of a week of heightened climate activism from September 20th-27th as people urge governments to double their efforts for climate action. In the wake of increasing pressure being placed upon governments regarding climate action world leaders have gathered in New York for a Climate Action Summit. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was set to address the summit on Monday 23rd September. The current Climate Action Plan for Ireland, according to Friends of the Earth director, Oisin Coghlan leaves much to be desired in realistically achieving the goals set out by the Paris Agreement. Climate activists may get some solace over the next week as details emerge of the new climate action plan for Ireland and the near 200 other countries represented at the summit. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a clear statement to those world leaders attending; ‘’Don’t come with a speech. Come with a plan.’’ A sentiment that any climate activist can identify with. 

The science of climate change is no longer limited to scientific journals as citizen scientists and activists have taken the role of advocating for the scientists whose message has been undermined for decades. The science may finally be taken seriously and perhaps someday soon, our government leaders will also repeat the chant of the Irish protesters; ‘’Keep the carbon in the soil. No more coal. No more oil!!’’

 

 

WATCH: some footage and interviews made during Galway and Dublin’s strikes