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Clare’s youth leading the way on climate change

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Clare councillors are keen to follow the example set by students across the county by identifying ways to help the environment.

Last month, pupils took to streets around the world including Ennis calling for action on climate change. Students from Coláiste Mhuire Secondary School and primary pupils from Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosóg made their presence known at the Daniel O’Connell monument at O’Connell St in the county town. A delegation of these young voices will address elected representatives of the Council later today (Monday) following a request from Cllr Johnny Flynn.

At the adjourned March meeting of the local authority, Cllr Mary Howard asked the Council request Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton to consider implementing the return for refund operated for plastic bottles to be introduced across Ireland. In May of last year, the British Government announced that all drink containers whether plastic, glass or metal would be covered by a deposit return scheme.

Its intention is to cut the litter polluting the land and sea by returning a small cash sum to consumers who return their bottles and cans. Similar schemes operate in 39 countries while in the UK, campaigners worked for a decade prior to its introduction.

“We produce 7 billion tonnes of plastic waste every year, Ireland is currently the top producer of plastic waste in Europe, in Germany 99% of plastic bottles get recycled,” Cllr Howard stated. “Last year dead birds in Fanore were found with plastic in their stomach”.

She congratulated the efforts of Eleanor Dagnell-Wise the Coláiste Muire student responsible for kickstarting the protests in Clare. “We need to follow their lead, the youth are more practical than us but we are the ones supposed to lead”. The Fine Gael councillor also referred to a video by Clare Youth Action which has been viewed 7.6 million times since being shared online by The Clare Echo.

Fianna Fáil’s Clare Colleran Molloy supported Cllr Howard. “I’m opening my eyes to the realisation that we are killing ourselves with plastic, the younger generation are seeing this as a worry to their future”. She wanted to see the local authority set a precedent by tackling plastic waste. Independent councillor Ann Norton commented “They are our future so we are relying on these young people to stand up and make sure the world is a better place”.

Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby confirmed at the meeting that the “Council intends eliminating use of single use plastic by 2019”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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