Greta Thunberg sends video of support to Cork climate protesters

Swedish climate activist endorses opposition to proposed plastics plant in Skibbereen

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has sent a video message of solidarity with climate protesters in Cork.

She also endorsed opposition to a proposed plastics plant in Skibbereen and hit out against industrial seaweed harvesting in Bantry Bay.

The 16-year-old said her message of support was to commend the efforts of local school climate strikers and to give her backing to the “Save Our Skibbereen” and “Bantry Bay Protect our Native Kelp Forest” environmental campaigns.

The video clip was sent to Skibbereen student Saoí O’Connor who has been protesting outside Cork City Hall on Fridays since early January.


Ms Thunberg, who has become a global figure in a movement seeking a more urgent response to global heating caused by fossil fuels and human activity, has previously acknowledged Ms O’Connor for her efforts.

“I just want to send my full support to the climate activists in Cork fighting to stop the building of a new plastic factory and the harvesting of kelp along the coastlines,” she said.

“These two proposals would be catastrophic for the climate and the environment, especially since natural rewilding is one of the most effective and best ways to stop the climate crisis.”

She added: “So, you have our full support and we stand behind you and we are very grateful that you are fighting for everyone’s future and don’t give up – never stop. Thank you.”

Ms O’Connor told The Irish Times she was delighted to get the backing of one of the most prominent voices in the world for climate action. “We have talked a lot through message and text. Having the video is cool, and her acknowledging people here was great.”

She said Ms Thunberg was very anxious to come to Cork and was due this summer, but her visit had to be postponed as she had to allow more time to travel to a UN climate summit in New York without flying – her connections with the area were especially strong as her dog Roxy had come from a dog shelter in Cork.

Save Our Skibbereen is currently seeking a judicial review of the planning permission granted by Cork County Council to Daly Products Ltd, an Irish division of a Minnesota-based plastics firm RTP, for a thermoplastic factory at Poundlick. The application has been adjourned at the request of An Bord Pleanála.

“It goes without saying that we are hugely grateful to Greta for taking an interest in our campaigns and for taking the time to make and send on the video. Without the networking between all our groups, none of this would be possible,” said Brendan McCormack of SOS.

In Bantry Bay a licence to extract 1,860 acres of natural kelp has been granted to the Tralee-based company BioAtlantis. It has also been the subject of judicial review proceedings brought by local people opposed to the venture.

This has yet to be heard but separate High Court proceedings seeking an order that the harvesting operation should come under the Planning and Development Act and not just the provisions of the Foreshore Act under which the licence was granted.

A judgement delivered last month dismissed the latter challenge, and found in favour of BioAtlantis and the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times