How history was made in front of our eyes as we went to the Dail to witness the vote to ban fracking

After six years of campaigning against fracking in Ireland, GEAI members finally saw the impact of their action and of the commitment of the many people who joined the fight. On Wednesday the 31th of June, between 10am and 12am, TDs gathered in the Dail to unanimously agree on banning Fracking from Ireland. And GEAI members were there to witness it.

Aedin McLoughlin, Liam Breslin, Eddie Mitchell and two of our EVS volunteers drove to the Dail to see it happen with their own eyes. It was a great opportunity for our European volunteers to discover for the first time Ireland’s political institutions and system. Ingrid – our French volunteer – had been with us for almost four months but it was her first time in the Dail whereas Bruno – our brand new volunteer from Spain – got to witness this event on his very first day in Ireland!

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As the discussion went on about the several amendments, Aedin explained who were the different politicians speaking and the parties they were from so that the volunteers would be able to understand what was happening, especially when the matter of whether or not offshore shale gas exploitation should be included in the ban or not was brought on.

The EVS volunteers thought it was thrilling to see the actual arguments and votes go on in front of their eyes as well as discovering the building where it took place and meeting people committed to the same cause as them. They shared the excitement of the room when the ban was finally voted five minutes before the meeting deadline.

Some people had a hard time sitting still while the clock was ticking, afraid that the ban would not be voted in time and that the vote would have to be rescheduled. The volunteers shared this concern as well as the general relief of the ban being finally agreed on at the last minute. Then they could enjoy joining the celebration of everyone involved in the matter.

This is a day they will remember all their life, and same goes for all the people concerned about Fracking, in Ireland and beyond.

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EVS experience: Biodiversity Trek at Lough Boora Parklands

   From the 19th to the 28th of May, Biodiversity was celebrated in Ireland through about 50 events forming our National Biodiversity Week. All over the country, environmental organisations offered free family-friendly events in order to regenerate the link between People and Nature as well as reminding us how much our wildlife and flora are precious and how we could – should – learn to protect them from the many threats opposed to them.  

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   On the 27th of June, two of our EVS volunteers went to Lough Boora Parklands, county Offaly, to participate in a Biodiversity Trek organised by the Irish Wildlife Trust; a conservation charity committed to raise awareness about our local natural heritage and which is in charge of numerous natural reserves; one of them being in Lough Boora Parklands.

  Kieran Flood – Conservation Officer for the Irish Wildlife Trust – was their guide for the day. During an approximately three hours walk, they learned about different types of plants, flowers and animals. They learned what a bog is, how it is formed and what wildlife can develop there.

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  They learned that common flowers like “Birds-foot trefoil” (Lotus Corniculus) are good for butterflies to lay their eggs on, that there about twenty different species of bumblebees in Ireland which hibernate during winter, that Yew trees (Taxus Baccata) are Ireland’s most ancient growing trees, that their seed is toxic and their berries are poisonous but that their evergreen property and their impressivDSC_0387e longevity (they usually can reach between 400 and 600 years of age) make them symbols of eternal life and thus are often planted in cemeteries…

 

 

 Our two volunteers were delighted to learn those facts and many more as to witness Irish biodiversity wealth by laying their eyes on wild orchids, a red squirrel, a parasite wasps’ nest…

   The Irish Wildlife Trust and GEAI are both part of the Environmental Pillar (a network of national environmental organisations in Ireland). Our volunteers were delighted to meet another Irish environmental NGO and they came back to work more enthusiastic than ever about protecting Irish Biodiversity.

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All the photographs featured in this post have been taken by our EVS volunteer
Katsiaryna Trusova

Ireland bans fracking!

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The taste of sweet success! Wednesday morning was a historic occasion- with all-party support, the Bill to ban Fracking in Ireland was passed without opposition. The voice of the people and especially of the communities of the Northwest was heard loud and clear.
“A great day and a great achievement by all concerned. This campaign shows people power in the best possible way” (Aedín McLoughlin)

Evaluation time

Evaluation time has come. Yesterday, 31st of May, GEAI EVS volunteers organised the evaluation of all activities/games they have leaded during the year in Youth Café Drumshanbo. Each child recieved the evaluation form in which we placed different smiley faces meaning the activities were: really good, good, ok or didn’t enjoy. The form also contained the following questions: “What did you enjoy most or least?” and “Have you learnt something new?”.

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For a while the atmosphere was silent. Children were carefully thinking about what they have learned from the activities. The answers were different. But the interesting fact was that almost all participants ticked the box with the “GOOD” smiley face. And they have definitely learned lots of new information about environment, renewable energy sources, sustainability and recycling. One of the most interesting answers was: “I have learnt that fracking is affecting wildlife”.

It was such an useful and great experience for EVS volunteers as well. They understood a lot about theirselves and about Youth work.

Climate Change Fun Game!

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The activity

 Last week, EVS volunteer Andrea, organised a game called climate change in Youth Café Drumshanbo. We divided the group of kids into two teams. Each team had a name. Each member of the group had a card with a picture and the correspondent  word. They had to memorise the word. In the room, one chair in the middle, two pairs of Wellington boots in one corner and two hats in the opposite corner. The moderator, Andrea,  started reading a story related to climate change while children were walking around the room. By the time they heard the word they had on their cards, they had to run, put on the boots and the hat and sat on the chair placed in the middle. The first player who did it, got a point for his/her team. If they heard the word: climate change any player of each team could do it. Again the team which first did it got a point. At the end, the team with more points was the winner.

The result

 It was a good game to keep them focus on the climate change short  stories the moderator was reading and at the same time get  familiar with related vocabulary, for instance: sea level, ecosystems, global warming, glaciers… We had some much fun while learning!

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