Saoirse strikes to save the planet

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Saoirse Exton protesting outside the Limerick 2030 offices last Friday.

A THIRTEEN-year-old Limerick schoolgirl who is deeply concerned about the environment is staging a series of strikes from school as part of the international ‘Fridays for Future’ action on climate change.

Saoirse Exton was inspired by Swedish teenager, Greta Sundberg, who started the action. The young Limerick activist is now calling on local students, children and adults to join her in marking the world days of school strike for climate change action on March 15.

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A student at Gaelchoilaiste Luimnigh, Saoirse spent last Friday with a fellow student outside the Limerick 2030 office on O’Connell Street with posters calling for climate action and she intends to do the same this Friday.

“I was nervous at first but the people were so lovely to us – bringing us hot drinks and chocolate. It started to be fun, talking to people about climate change and the environment”.

The first year student, who lives in O’Brien’s Bridge, said she knew that action was needed on climate change “but I didn’t really let myself think about how bad it was. I didn’t face my fears until now”.

Inspired by the Swedish schoolgirl’s action, Saoirse began intensely reading into the subject.

“I’ve always tried to keep up with environmental news through the BBC and I read the Guardian. I think a lot of people are like me, they just haven’t realised yet how serious this is”.

Saoirse saw videos and heard speeches by Greta Sundberg and joined Fridays for Future Ireland.

Having become something of a celebrity, Saoirse said many of the Limerick councillors came to talk to her and offer support.

“There were TDs as well – Maurice Quinliven and Jan O’Sullivan. They were very supportive”.

Her school has not disciplined her for skipping school to stage her protest.

“I didn’t actually say anything in advance of the first day but my principal asked me how Friday went. I did get a friend to bring the homework so I could get that done,” she said.

This Friday and next Friday morning, Saoirse will be outside the 2030 offices again but on Friday, March 15, she will be in Arthurs Quay Park at 1pm and hopes for a big turn out in support of her protest, which will move from the park to City Hall for a rally.

“I would love for adults, schoolchildren – everyone who can to join me. We need people to get action,” she said.