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Steo Wall performing during the Extinction Rebellion Clare rally to support the School Strike for Climate Action, in Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

Make A Difference: Four Clare people and their activism stories

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We speak to four Clare people about their environmental activism

Mélina Sharp Futureproof Clare and Extinction Rebellion

I became environmentally active after attending an Extinction Rebellion (XR) information session in Kilrush about three years ago. It was a wake-up call, I felt shock and horror at the threat to humanity from climate breakdown.

I feel that everything is connected and has an impact on communities and ecosystems but my main focus now is on stopping fracking.

So-called “natural” gas was hailed as a clean transition fuel but the emissions from production and shipping are being overlooked. Taking everything into account, importing fracked gas is almost 50% worse than coal from a climate perspective.

Methane is about 87 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Levels in the US alone have risen by a third in the last 10 years due to fracking. I work with international groups and hear first-hand stories of the devastation caused by fracking.

The future terrifies me. I want to stop it happening and I can’t just expect that someone else will do it. I don’t want to give up without a fight. Working on this gives me hope.

Anna Swisher, Work That Reconnects

I run Work That Reconnects workshops to help people share and deal with feelings of despair, overwhelm, and apathy, and find inspiration to take action in a way that is right for them.

I gradually got more involved in climate issues over the past five-eight years. Watching climate documentaries and hearing environmental science reports started adding up and I realised this was a big issue.

When I started engaging with the Work That Reconnects, it really hit home; I realised how many people were having a hard time coming to grips with the reality of the situation, and how scary and serious it was.

I feel better that I am doing my part. In the work I do, I get to connect regularly with people all over the world who really care, and who want to do their part to make a difference.
This gives me strength of heart, and makes me believe that we can turn things around.

Cornelia Wahli – Clare PPN

My turning point was in March 2019, when some teenagers described to me their great concern for their future and the future of the planet.

They asked me what they could do to make a difference and I realised that I needed more information myself. I joined Clare Environmental Network and through that became the Clare PPN environmental representative.

As Clare PPN representative, I am on the Council’s Local Community Development Committee and my role is to make sure that environmental protection is considered when decisions are made.

I believe that systemic change and personal change go hand in hand. For systemic change it is of paramount importance that the general public let their representatives know what they think and what they want.

Through my involvement I have access to like-minded people. This gives me hope for the future and shows me that many others take similar actions and share similar view points.

Kate Harty, Fridays for Future

I’ve always been aware of climate issues and tried to be environmentally active, from childhood.

Before Covid, I was very active in school striking. In-person school striking hasn’t been happening recently in Ennis and over the last year I have become much more active in Fridays For Future Digital, who are involved in bringing awareness to local and global campaigns worldwide.

I’ve also been more drawn to approaching activism in a creative way rather than a directly political way.

Currently I’ve been doing some photography of protests rather than being on the front line.

I love getting to meet and work with people of like mind.

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