This is a very thought provoking Opinion piece from Sadhbh O’ Neill published in The

Sadhbh O Neill is a spokesperson for Climate Case Ireland. She is a PhD candidate and part-time lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at UCD.

Climate change is dangerous and poses a threat to us all, so we are taking a High Court case this January on behalf of all Irish citizens, writes Sadhbh O Neill.

2019 WILL SURELY be the year of climate action.

Recent scientific reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave us just 12 years to make drastic cuts to the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Human activities have altered the Earth’s living systems beyond recognition. We have left our mark on Planet Earth in seriously negative ways and climate change is the most visible and urgent threat that we humans have inflicted on the planet.

Ireland is among the poorest performers in Europe for tackling climate change. We cannot continue to hide behind the emissions of other countries and claim we have no duty to act. Individual action, no matter how well-intentioned, will have almost no effect without strong state leadership and multilateral cooperation.

That is why we must challenge our government in a historic high court case starting 22 January.

Human Activity

Once an insignificant speck, humans are now in a sense responsible for the whole planet’s future.

Of course, ‘humans’ are not a homogeneous group. There are huge inequalities and injustices behind the climate story. Colonialism, greed and ideology have all played a role in driving up both emissions and exploitation all over the world and throughout human history.

Yet most inconveniently, climate change presents itself as the challenge we all face together now, and on behalf of future generations, regardless of our degree of responsibility.

Governments are supposed to plan for the long-term, and in the common interest. But as the Swedish 15-year old activist Greta Thunberg reminded UN negotiators, all of the burden, including that of telling the truth about the real and systemic crises that face us, is being left to our children.

While the international climate negotiations have indeed been painfully slow, there is a growing body of scientific evidence and international law that should be guiding our response to climate change here in Ireland.

The Climate Case

Ireland’s performance on climate change so far has been very poor in comparison to the rest of the EU.  Our government’s ongoing failure to bend the emissions curve has been repeatedly raised at national and EU level by both independent and state authorities.

The analysis produced by Climate Action Network Europe in June this year placed Ireland in second last in the EU for action and ambition on climate change. Just last month, the Climate Change Performance Index highlighted Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change.

Citizens are no longer prepared to wait until the government wakes up to the challenge.

Friends of the Irish Environment under the banner ‘Climate Case Ireland’ is taking legal action against the Irish Government’s failure to take the required action to avert dangerous climate change.

Our case is inspired by global climate change litigation, including the 900 Dutch citizens of Urgenda who won their case against the Dutch Government in 2015. The District Court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels).

That ruling required the government to immediately take more effective action on climate change.

We have asked the court to quash the existing climate plan and to require the government to produce an ambitious emissions reduction plan which helps to avert dangerous climate change.

While our case does not specify the means by which targets should be met, there is plenty of research showing that we will all benefit from the energy transition. Climate action demands a mobilisation of both citizens and government actions alike if we are to avert disaster.

Instead, in Ireland, we will face fines for not meeting EU targets – the Institute of International and European Affairs have estimated that Ireland could face fines between €3-6bn by 2030.

Why Ireland?

You might ask – but why Ireland? We are a tiny country, why should our emissions matter?

While China, the US and India are currently the world’s top emitters, the EU has contributed a much higher percentage of the total emissions released into the atmosphere.

And while US leadership would indeed make a big difference it should be noted that many US states are already taking decisive action to reduce emissions in spite of the federal government’s position.

Ireland’s emissions per capita are the third highest in the EU at 13.2 tCO2e per person.

Our energy, heating and transport systems, in particular, are highly dependent on polluting fossil fuels but government plans are not properly assessed for their climate and environmental impacts.

As the 64th largest emitter of emissions in the world, we can hardly expect the 130 countries that emit less than Ireland, to reduce their emissions if we don’t do likewise.

We are among the wealthiest countries in the world with high rates of economic growth and employment. It is vital that we contribute our fair share of the global effort in solidarity with developing countries who will bear the brunt of climate damage.

We cannot afford to wait until there is political consensus for strong policy measures.

The courts have a special role in ensuring that government decisions are compliant with national, EU and international law and in ensuring that human rights are protected. The Dutch case showed that citizens can access the courts to effect a change of direction.

Our case will be heard in the High Court from the 22nd of January and we are taking it on behalf of everyone in Ireland, young and old. We hope that it will inspire the public into supporting our call for greater climate ambition.


Sustainable Skerries are delighted to introduce a new regular feature on our website, “The Skerries Allotment Blog” from Charlie Heasman. We hope to publish this blog monthly, or more if there’s more to say!. Enjoy the read, and please comment, positively, constructively and in good humour.


“First, a few words of introduction, my name is Charlie Heasman. My wife, Marion, and myself have an allotment in Skerries, an allotment which over time we have become passionate about.  When Sustainable Skerries heard that not only can I string a half intelligible sentence together when pushed, but also have Microsoft spell check, they invited me to write a monthly blog.  Okay, here goes.

So here we are in December, a time when very little is growing and not a lot is happening, which would seem a mildly surprising time to start. But actually this is not the case.

It’s difficult to think of any enterprise where a bit of forward planning does not go amiss and there is no better example than an allotment.  Here at the tail end of 2018 we have time to plan ahead for 2019, and the better we plan now the better our chances of getting it right then.  Hopefully!

Marion and myself will have been in Skerries allotments four years this coming March.  We had the advantage of not starting off as complete beginners and I will flatter us both by saying that we’ve added considerably more to our knowledge since then.  My intention here is to humbly offer to share what we know with others who may find it of benefit.

Of course, there are some who have been there far longer than us and indubitably know far more than us and I’m sure that collectively they’ll be able to disagree with just about every point I make.  That’s fine, dialogue is good; there’s a comment box below folks, use it. Let’s get a discussion going.

In the meantime I’m the blogger, I get first say..

…and I say we’ve only been here four years and in that time we’ve seen so many people come, give up, and go.


The short answer, always given, is that they didn’t know how much time and work it would be.  This is true in so far as it goes but, let’s face it, if someone’s looking for both a hobby and a release then tending a mere 50 square meters of land should be a pleasure, not a problem.  What is a problem is turning up in April with a trowel and a packet of seeds, scratching with the former and throwing about the latter, and expecting a miraculous crop of vegetables.  It’s never, ever, going to happen.

Why?  Answer: no planning, no groundwork.

Before even thinking about planting (and we’re all impatient for results, we wouldn’t be human if we weren’t) it is necessary to look after the soil.  Get the soil right and the rest will follow; you’d be amazed how true this is.  You’ll also be amazed how much easier life becomes and how much more successful you are.

So what’s involved?

Three things: weeds, structure and nutrition.

Take weeds first (as indeed you should).  Get rid of them, get rid of them all.  If you

don’t, the ones that remain will come straight back in.  I’m talking perennial weeds here like couch grass, nettles and buttercups.  When we took over our 100 sq m plot it was wall to wall couch grass.  We resolved to start digging in one corner and work our way out..

So we did…






There was a certain amount of backache involved…







But fun for all the family nonetheless…



But three months later it looked like this. Okay, I’m boasting.

Forgive me.The point is that if we hadn’t gone at it full bore we’d still be battling the stuff now. By contrast, we’ve seen others in a similar situation meticulously clear a small bed in the middle of such a wilderness, plant in it, and then find to their dismay that the weeds have come straight back in and that they are pretty much right back where they started.  So they clear it again, and again, and again, and then give up.

Cleaning that allotment was the first and hardest thing we ever did but boy, aren’t we glad now.  While there may be the odd spear of couch grass that still creeps in even now it is easily and quickly dealt with and we can relax.

Sitting here and writing this, a thought has just occurred.  We both like to think that with our allotment we are working with, not against, nature.  Yes, I think it is so.  And yet at this point we were battling against nature: nature wanted the weeds there; we didn’t.

But I can say that we’ve never used, nor will ever use herbicides.  It’s all down to the fork and the hoe.  I’m both mystified and saddened when I see allotment holders use weedkillers.  Why?  What’s the point of having an allotment at all?  Beats me.

Happily the remaining two factors, soil structure and nutrition, can both fall firmly into the ‘working with’ category.

When we first dug and weeded our patch we thought the soil looked pretty good, a quick application of compost and it would be good to go.  In fact it was, as per photo above; but we now know it could have been so much better.

To start off with the clods we dug were hard and heavy, requiring a good few smacks with the back of the fork to break them up, but as we’ve progressively added more organic matter -anything we can get our hands on, cow and horse manure, compost, seaweed – things have improved.  Now the soil is so much lighter and actually crumbles off the fork of its own accord, so even digging is so much easier.  And if I can get a fork through it with ease then I’m sure the plants can now do the same with their roots.  Not only that but it drains quicker in winter and retains moisture longer in summer.


We still occasionally come across an untouched lump in an odd corner of a bed; the sight of it reminds us of the difference between now and then.  Today I nipped up with my trusty iphone and after a bit of exploratory digging, recorded the masterpiece here.

Apologies for the poor quality, but hopefully it shows a hard grey lump dug out of softer, darker soil.  It too took several smacks to break it up.

One last anecdote:

Back in our early days we heard that carrots require deep, fine soil in order to do well (they do), so Marion set to work preparing a patch.  It was an area of about one and a half square metres at the end of a bed.  Determined to do the job properly, she dug down 18 inches and put everything through a fine sieve.  It took her all day but the resultant tilth looked impressive, talcum powder came to mind.  We threw in the seeds and stood well back, ready for the imminent explosion of growth.

Which didn’t happen.

In fact very little grew, and what did was woefully scrawny.  When we came to pull up what little was there and dig the bed we found that it had set like concrete.  By contrast, and coincidence, that same bed again contains carrots as I write.  This time they did explode into a mass of verdant green.  The difference?  Organic matter.

So that’s my view: with an allotment the more you can put in at the beginning the easier it becomes eventually, and the greater the rewards.  To anyone contemplating starting: be warned.  To anyone about to give up: don’t.

If you’ve to any extent enjoyed reading this, I thank you and invite you to pitch in with a comment below; as said at the start, it would be great to get a discussion going.  If, however, you’re thoroughly bored and feel you’ve been robbed of ten minutes of your life, there are some very good videos on Youtube.

Until next month”…



world_cafe_2“World Café”

On Thursday 15th November At 8:00pm

The Skerries Mills.

This is a quick reminder to everyone, Sustainable Skerries will be running a World Café on Thursday evening (15th Nov). This is a very open and relaxed forum, and a great way to get a discussion going on important topics. We will have small groups of five or six people per table, each table will have a question related to sustainability and resilience in Skerries.

We’ll be asking questions like:

  • “Where did all our water go? Did you know that 50% of our Water leaks into the ground the ground before it reaches our taps?
  • “Are we getting all the goodness we can from our food? How can I compost at home?”
  • “Are you fed up with our throw-away culture? Would you like to learn to repair things like our parents did?
  • Single Use Plastic, “How did we survive before plastic? Is it the consumer or the producer who drives change?”
  • Energy Security, Lights out in NI? Where is our energy coming from?


If you are interested in discussing these topics or would like to learn more about them get in touch with us at or just come along to the Café on the first floor in the Mills at 8pm on Thursday 15th. See you there.


Another burst water main impacting Skerries. The notice below is from the Irish Water bulletin board.

This is one of the subjects we will be discussing at Thursday’s World Café. Please come along to contribute to the discussion.

Skerries, Dublin
11/11/2018 – 12/11/2018

REF. FIN029128

Burst Water Main – Skerries

  • Water OutageWorks have an estimated completion time of midnight. Please take note of the following reference number and enter it into the search bar should you wish to return for an update:FIN029128.
  • We recommend that you allow 2-3 hours after the estimated restoration time for your supply to fully return.
  • **Update 12:22am**
    Due to extent of the damage and repairs required, the works are now expected to be completed by 4am on 12 November.

    Repairs to a burst water main may cause supply disruptions to Skerries, Barnageeragh Cove and surrounding areas in Co.Dublin.

Do you want to grow your own herbal medicine? or even herbs useful in the kitchen for cooking or preserving. This link brings you to a really interesting Podcast from The Sustainable World Radio website. I’ve added a link to this website in the Links Column on the left side of the Home page.
In this Podcast, urban farmer and community herbalist Bonnie Rose Weaver shares the joys of growing medicinal plants in an urban environment.

Bonnie Rose Weaver – Herbalist

In 2014, Bonnie launched the Seed to Bottle Apothecary 1849 Medicine Garden, a project that taught urbanites about the benefits of locally grown plant medicine. 1849 included an Herbal CSA- or community supported agriculture program where members receive herbal tinctures created from herbs grown in their area. Bonnie grew her herbs on a 1/16 of an acre in San Francisco, CA.

Bonnie believes that medicine is all around us, even in the heart of the city and that taking herbs grown locally can be potent medicine. In this interview she talks about how she propagates herbs (sowing seeds in flats – not cells), why it’s important to reproduce a wild quality in your plants, and how plants grown in your neighborhood or bioregion face many of the same stressors that you do, making them effective medicine. Bonnie also talks in detail about some of her favorite herbs including Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), Grindelia (Grindelia robusta), Milky Oats (Avena sativa), and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris).

WorldCafe“World Café”

On Thursday 15th November At 8:00pm

The Skerries Mills.

Sustainable Skerries will be running a World Café on 15th Nov. This is a very open and relaxed forum, and a great way to get a discussion going on important topics. We will have small groups of five or six people per table, each table will have a question related to sustainability and resilience in Skerries.

After 10 minutes, everyone except the facilitator will move to another table. We’ve run a couple of these in the past and they’re great craic.

It should lead to some lively debate, everyone can contribute as much or as little as they want.

We’ll be asking questions like:

  • “Where did all our water go? Did you know that 50% of our Water leaks into the ground the ground before it reaches our taps?
  • “Are we getting all the goodness we can from our food? How can I compost at home?”
  • “Are you fed up with our throw-away culture? Would you like to learn to repair things like our parents did?
  • Single Use Plastic, “How did we survive before plastic? Is it the consumer or the producer who drives change?”
  • Energy Security, Lights out in NI? Where is our energy coming from?


If you are interested in discussing these topics or would like to learn more about them get in touch with us at and let us know if you can attend.



Sustainable Skerries will be hosting a Global Café in The Mills, keep the date, Thursday 15th November.

We’ll be discussing Water supply issues to Skerries, Plastics “Single Use”waste, our Food and Energy security, what environmental impact will Brexit have on our town.

More details to follow.

Are you dreading the upcoming water charges? Have you thought of ways to save water? Do you want your garden to look gorgeous even during hosepipe bans? Are you looking for ways to reduce your reliance on mains water supply? Come to our rainwater harvesting information evening to get ideas, information and inspiration on how to harvest and store usable rainwater from your roof.

Where: Skerries Mills
When: Thursday 3rd of April 2014, 8pm

Sustainable Skerries is launching a new series of classes entitled, “Lessons for Sustainable Living”.

The first class is on Thursday Sept 12th, in Skerries Mills, and will generally be held every Thursday evening for 9 weeks. Times and course content are listed below.

The cost of the full course is €80, and enrollment is open now. Places are limited.

If you would like learn a bit more about the course, contact us on or call Rosaleen  (086 7341764) or Mary (086 0643498)

Lessons in Sustainable Living
Date Time Topic Venue
Sep 12th 8.00pm  to 9.30pm Welcome, brief course introduction & Introduction to Wild Foods Skerries Mills
Sep 19th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Food Nutrition & Food Preserving Skerries Mills
Sep 21st Note Saturday Afternoon (2pm to 4pm) Skerries Foraging Walk TBA
Sep 26th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Growing Food Skerries Mills
Oct 3rd 8.00pm to 9.30pm Skerries as a Sustainable Community Skerries Mills
Oct 10th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Sustainable Purchasing Decisions Skerries Mills
Oct 19th Note Saturday Afternoon (1.30pm to 5pm) Rediscover Fashion ( upcycling clothing) Skerries Sailing Club
Oct 24th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Fabric Crafts ( Knitting, crochet and sewing – taster sessions on each ) Skerries Mills
October 31st 8.00pm to 9.30pm Waste from the Home Skerries Mills
Nov 7th 8.00pm to 9.30pm Sustainable Energy in the Home Skerries Mills

Would you share your garden for free fruit & vegetables?

Garden Share Schemes have been popular in America, UK and other countries for some time now.  A Garden Share scheme essentially pairs up gardeners who have nowhere to grow their own food with garden owners who have the space to grow but for whatever reason are not able to.

These schemes have attracted garden owners for numerous reasons, among which are: they do not know anything about growing food and want to learn from an experienced gardener; they no longer have the mobility to do their own gardening but would like to see their garden used by someone else (often these owners have lots of invaluable growing knowledge to pass on); they do not have the time to grow food but would like to see someone else do so.

The majority of volunteer gardeners join the scheme as a means of accessing a growing space. Whether they live in an apartment or are renting, this scheme gives them a space to grow their own food.

The benefits of such schemes are immense. From this wonderfully symbiotic relationship two people now have access to locally grown, seasonal vegetables. The sense of wellbeing gotten from eating freshly grown food that you had a hand in producing, whether by labour or provision of land, is wonderful.  This way of producing food also helps the environment by providing fruit and vegetables with no food miles. 

Beyond the health and environmental benefits, the social benefits, especially for elderly or disabled garden owners are extremely positive. The social contact of having someone calling a few times a week can make such a huge difference in the lives of some people. The relief of knowing that your garden is being used, especially  for food production and the security of knowing that someone is keeping an eye on the house & garden can also be very reassuring for garden owners. And the list goes on…

As with most community focused initiatives there are as many ways to organise a Garden Share Scheme as there are schemes. The basic principle of matching a compatible owner and gardener with each other is mediated in a variety of ways. In most cases, interested parties register themselves with the scheme. They would then individually meet with the co-ordinators. This gives the co-ordinators a chance to get to know each party a bit better and armed with this knowledge, they can then make the best pairing they can. Some groups also manage the agreement stage too.  This agreement covers issues such as access to the garden, tools, storage, division of produce and all the other nitty-gritty involved in such arrangements.

Schemes such as these have been running successfully in Edinburgh and also Brighton & Hove. These schemes would highlight the huge benefits of their schemes to elderly people in their communities. The other major success in these schemes has been that they offer people another path into growing their own food and all the joys that come from that.

If you are interested in Skerries Garden Share Scheme get in touch with us :


Or call Barry on 087-229 5840

Further information on Garden Share Schemes can be found on the following sites:

January 2019
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