“If a politician comes to my door, I start asking them hard questions. Some of them are shocked . . . The politicians we elect this weekend will have a direct influence over whether or not my generation inherits a liveable planet.”
Every friday morning, 16-year-old Saoi O’Connor travels two hours from her home to the city to protest. Saoi has been dissenting in her own way since the age of four when her parents started the Fair-Trade Committee in her town. Now she is one of the critical figures of Ireland’s youth climate rebellion.
Saoi O’Connor began the Fridays for Future strike in Cork City on 11 January 2019 outside Cork City Hall[holding a poster which says “The Emperor Has No Clothes”. O’Connor made their first media appearance aged 3 as part of a fair trade campaign during St Patrick’s Day. O’Connor moved away from mainstream education at Skibbereen Community School to continue their studies home-schooling to allow them to work full time on climate justice activism full-time. In February 2019, O’Connor travelled to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to join fellow activists for the climate debates.
O’Connor was one of the 157 delegates to the 2019 RTÉ Youth Assembly on Climate, and attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid the same year. In December 2019, O’Connor was awarded the Outstanding Individual at the Cork Environmental Forum’s Awards ceremony. During the ceremony, they remarked on how little had changed regarding climate change policy since they began their climate strike. The Fridays for Future Cork group, of which O’Connor is a member, also received a commendation from the Forum.
Follow Saoi on Twitter @saoi4climate