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Saoi wins top humanitarian award for climate activism

December 9th, 2021 10:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Saoi’s friend Saoirse Swan who accepted the award on her behalf, holding a childhood picture of the pair. (Photo: Tony Gavin)

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SKIBBEREN climate activist Saoi O’Connor has been awarded the prestigious Young Humanitarian of the Year award by the Irish Red Cross.

Now in their fourth year, the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards recognise those who have had a humanitarian impact on the lives of others through volunteering, storytelling, skill sharing or fundraising.

Saoi, who turned 19 last month, initiated the Fridays for Future strike at Cork City Hall almost three years ago olding a poster that said “The Emperor Has No Clothes”.

Since then Saoi’s tireless activism has involved global youth strikes; national and international speaking events; and political lobbying, most recently, at Cop26 in Glasgow.

Saoi has been dubbed ‘the Irish Greta Thunberg’ and stood side by side with the world famous campaigner at Cop.

Saoi acknowledged that activism is now her life.

‘It’s 24/7, a full-time job,’ said Saoi. ‘It’s quite difficult when you’re operating in an adult world, but if we don’t do it now we may not have a future.’

Chair of the Irish Red Cross Pat Carey said: ‘Saoi O’Connor has provided inspiring leadership as a climate activist since the first ‘Fridays for Future’ strike in Cork almost three years ago.

‘We recognise this dedication to being a visionary leader for humanitarian causes with the award of Young Humanitarian of the Year.’

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