Written by Grace Herbert, Young Friends of the Earth Ireland
YFoE Ireland recently had their Annual General Meeting (AGM) (see photos here: http://on.fb.me/IZlpPW). It took place in Seomra Spraoí in Dublin, an autonomous social centre, which served us beautiful vegan food for lunch and dinner. The AGM was an opportunity for young environmentalists to give their input into the direction in which they would like YFoE Ireland to focus. It was also an opportunity for us to learn more about YFoE, the work it does, the campaigns it runs and how the organisation hopes to grow.
Throughout the day we learned the history of YFoEE and how it came to be. A talk was also given by Conrad Richardson, a member who had attended the YFoEE Network Gathering, briefing us on his experience and of the election of a new steering committee, as well as how the working groups function.
We talked of the ways in which Ireland contributes to global environmental problems, such as high carbon emission from agriculture. We discussed possible upcoming campaigns on home turf such as against the fracking proposed in County Leitrim (see also www.what-the-frack.org) and the government's selling off of National Forests to private companies. An action outside the Environmental Protection Agency building may also be in the pipeline – the new EPA director recently commented (see also http://bit.ly/KtKxlO) that she would like to realign the role of the EPA away from environmental watchdog in order to support economic growth.
The previous YFoE Ireland intern Dave Curran gave a talk on student activism, giving great tips on student campaigning and keeping up the momentum. We also performed a campaigning exercise which was informative and fun - helping us realise how we can expand on our ideas.
At the end of the day, we elected a new National Co-ordinating Group which will plan the YFoE Ireland events for the year ahead. We have two exciting events coming up. One is to celebrate YFoEE's fifth birthday by planting five trees on a college campus in Dublin. The groundskeeper in the college is very environmentally aware, and the trees will be planted in a wildlife reserve.
The other is YFoE Ireland's annual Network Gathering which will be in September. For this event we are inviting young environmentalists from all over Ireland to share their environmental interests, hopes and experiences. We will hold talks, workshops and activities on campaigning, how to run a successful college environmental society, the dangers of fracking and much more. This will take place in Carrick-on-Shannon County Leitrim, where fracking is proposed to happen. We will be taking a trip to Lough Allen, where the river Shannon flows, and which will be destroyed if Tamboran Resources succeeds in building frack well. We hope to take part in an action on the day with the fractivists based there. It should be a great fun filled weekend, inspiring and empowering young activists!