Patricia Devlin: Grandmother goes on hunger strike over climate change

20 November 2019, 15:22 | Updated: 20 November 2019, 16:59

A 73-year-old grandmother has gone on hunger strike over Ireland's climate change policies, saying she fears for the kind of life her grandsons will have.

Patricia Devlin, a member of Extinction Rebellion, will give up food for four days in the hope of meeting Ireland's environment minister Richard Bruton to demand he does more to tackle the climate emergency.

Ms Devlin, who is originally from Australia, but has lived in Monasterevin, Co Kildare, for 20 years, launched her campaign outside the gates of the Irish parliament on Wednesday, while holding pictures of her grandchildren.

She said the arrival of Ollie, four, and baby Liam had sparked her back into action after 40 years as an occasional environmental activist.

"Since my grandchildren, they have just awakened in me a whole wonder at life. Being a parent is great but being a grandparent is just amazing," she said.

"You've got time to reflect on life in these little people and, knowing what's happening with climate change, I really fear for what kind of life will my grandsons have. Will they have a chance to have grandchildren like me?

"My emotion is wrapped up in fear that they won't enjoy the same blessings that we have."

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Ms Devlin said she is blessed with good health for her age, and has done 48-hour fasts before.

Her strike, which runs until Sunday, began a week-long global action by Extinction Rebellion, which believes the current government's climate polices will not meet environmental targets.

"So far only six million euro has been set aside for climate change. They gave 16 million euro to the greyhounds, so it's not hard to see where we're at, really, it's not good enough," she added.

Much of this year's climate activism has been sparked by children and young people, and Ms Devlin said she believes older generations also have a duty to protect the planet.

"One of my regrets is that I didn't keep it up. Maybe if I did this 20 years ago and did it seriously then maybe I wouldn't need to be here today," she said.