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‘We cannot bite our tongue anymore’ – environmental groups defend right to protest

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Environmentalists in Clare have hit out at comments by Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) that they should refrain from “hijacking” positive events and instead work side by side with the County Council.

As reported by The Clare Echo last week, Cllr Crowe criticised members of Extinction Rebellion Clare for protesting on the eighteenth green of The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. They were subsequently escorted by An Garda Síochána from Lahinch Golf Club.

“Hijacking positive events like on the eighteenth hole of The Irish Open in a very positive event for the county bringing positive coverage to the whole county isn’t the forum. Work with us, this is the forum,” the Mayor of Clare said at a meeting of the Physical Development SPC.

In response to the comments, Futureproof Clare stated, “We the people have a right to protest. Especially when we live in the County most vulnerable to the consequences of climate breakdown. When many of us can’t even get home insurance yet know the flood waters will come again. When there are millions of tonnes of toxic red sludge sitting on a land bank in our Estuary. What happens when the waters rise? Maybe you should stop ‘biting your tongue’ on these issues too Cathal”.

Earlier this year, the publication of Clare County Council’s Climate Adaptation Strategy annoyed groups such as Extinction Rebellion Clare, Futureproof Clare and Fridays for Future Clare who claimed their submissions were “ignored”. Local authority staff said many of their proposals were either already in place or outside the remit of the Council.

Theresa O’Donohoe lives in Lisdoonvarna, she attended meetings organised by Clare PPN to put together submissions for the Strategy. Upon reading the remarks of Cllr Crowe, she felt “I thought he must be oblivious and he is not oblivious because we spoke to him when we were at the Council meeting on the Climate Adaptation Strategy, he knows that the submissions made by people to the strategy were ignored and that the call for a dedicated climate and biodiversity strategic policy committee was also ignored”.

Instead of establishing a climate change and biodiversity SPC, it is now a standing item on every meeting of the four SPCs in Clare. “Our experience with Clare County Council is that they are not very open to working with us, I know that from my experience on an SPC,” Theresa said.

During the Clare PPN organised meetings, the Dublin native admitted she was “blown away” by the contributions of Friday for Future Clare members. “They were so well advanced, unbelievable thought process on the whole climate, the expected reactions to climate change, what we can expect down the road, I’m blown away by their knowledge, perception and how open they are to the whole reality whereas I see a closed book when I talk to the Council”.

A member of the Clare Environmental Network, Futureproof Clare and Extinction Rebellion Clare, the Dublin native highlighted that a more community focused approach is needed to deal with climate change. “The Council have it with the Physical SPC there is an intention to look at the physical impacts of rising water, excessive rain and weather events but there is no real efforts to help people and communities be prepared for the impacts of climate change”.

She asked Cllr Crowe “to play an intermediary role between the Council and public participation, I would welcome him ensuring that the community is involved in decision making on all climate and biodiversity plans, policies and projects”.


Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and 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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