An Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist has faced further criticism after he referred to the Government’s annual Remembrance Day service as a “little ritual”.
Donald Bell, who did four tours in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, attempted to defend the XR’s climate change protest at the Cenotaph on Wednesday, after the group faced criticism for holding the protest ahead of a remembrance service.
He told Good Morning Britian: “I’m trying to stop a war. There was a report in June this year how the Government has failed on all but two of the 31 milestones it set itself for reducing emissions. It’s failing terribly.”
When presenter Susanna Reid said Armistice Day was about remembrance and not climate change, Mr Bell insisted that the memorial service is about “our futures”.
“Those soldiers gave their lives – the ultimate sacrifices – for our futures so that we could live in peace,” he said.
“And when we have a Government that’s ignoring this climate emergency we’re in – their inaction is a crime.”
He added: “When they turn up there every year for their little ritual, that is a sign of disrespect as far as I am concerned.”
Co-presenter Ben Shephard then asked him whether he was referring to the Remembrance Day service when he used the words “little ritual”.
Mr Bell replied “yes” and added that the Government was not respecting the loss of life at the services.
“As far of the political side of this country is concerned, it’s just something they go through year and I don’t feel that they really respect the loss of life, that massive loss of life,” said the XR activist.
Many took issue with Mr Bell’s choice of words when he described the annual service as a “little ritual”.
“Absolutely raging. Agree that climate change needs to be addressed but there is a time and a place,” wrote one social media user.
Was unfortunate enough this morning to turn on @GMB to hear the moron from @ExtinctionR describe Remembrance Day as ‘a little ritual’. @ExtinctionR should really read the mood of the country on this. They are utterly despised for their puerile actions yesterday. Sheer disrespect
— Cath (@rugbycath) November 12, 2020
“It was utterly disgusting and disrespectful to hijack Remembrance Day of course they planned it to get maximum attention,” said another on Twitter.
Some were more supportive of Mr Bell’s remarks. “Donald Bell is absolutely right. Inaction on Climate is the ultimate disrespect for those who gave their lives so we might live,” wrote one person on Twitter.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman joined a chorus of disapproval over the actions of climate protesters who unveiled a banner reading “Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War” at the memorial on Whitehall, in central London.
What have I just watched? Extremely disrespectful, distasteful and repugnant. To suggest Remembrance Day as ‘a little ritual’ and use it as a platform for climate change is disgusting. Truly appalling. #ExtinctionRebellion #goodmorningbritain
— Harry (@Harry_Cambridge) November 12, 2020
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The Cenotaph is a memorial to those who fought and died to preserve all our freedoms.