Unlike Theresa May, the Irish prime minister supports children on climate strike

Leo Varadkar, Greta Thunberg and Theresa May
Support us and go ad-free

The Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, has come out in support of student climate strikes. He made the comments in the Irish parliament on 5 March. Paul Murphy, of the left-wing alliance Solidarity – People Before Profit, asked Varadkar if he will “listen” to students who will strike on 15 March. Varadkar responded saying the strike “is good” and “is welcome”.

Irish government support

The prime minister went further in his comments. Greta Thunberg and students “are standing up to adults”, he said. She and others, he argued:

They are children, pupils and students telling all of the adults in all parties to get their act together and do more about climate change because it is their future that is in jeopardy.

He continued:

That is why I support what they are doing and we all must listen to what they are saying.

Murphy then said students now had a “green light to walk out” of their classes on 15 March. But many members of parliament were not happy with this suggestion and interrupted him.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

A socialist alternative?

Varadkar made the comments during Leader’s Questions. Murphy pointed to the students going on strike compared to “the inaction of the world’s leaders”. The difference, he said, “could not be starker”. What’s more, he pointed out that the prime minister is aware of climate change. It’s just that he does “not want to do anything about it”.

Murphy called for an alternative:

A mass movement on climate change is needed and the school students should be joined by others, in particular the trade unions, to demand investment in green jobs and a centrally-based eco-socialist programme to take control of the economy out of the hands of the polluters and profiteers and to place it under the democratic control of the public to enable the rapid just transition we need.

But Varadkar, who heads the centre-right Fine Gael, also criticised Murphy and his party. He referred to them as “climate tax deniers”. Murphy and the socialist parties, Varadkar said, “deny the fact that a carbon tax or climate charge must be part of the solution to climate change”. Murphy and his party had earlier stated their opposition to a carbon tax.

Ireland’s failure

Varadkar’s support of striking students is in contrast to Theresa May. She recently scolded children in the UK for taking part in a climate strike. Her spokesperson told the students the climate strikes are a “disruption” for teachers. This, they said:

increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.

Varadkar made his comments as an Irish NGO published a new report on Ireland’s use of renewable energy. According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Ireland will fail to meet its 2020 targets for renewable energy under his government. This, the SEAI says, puts Ireland in 26th place out of 28 EU countries for its progress towards meeting these goals.

Featured image via Flickr – Liam LysaghtWikipedia – Jan Ainali/ Flickr – EU2017EE

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop


The Canary Fund us