Sinn Fein’s Peadar Tóibín TD has expressed shock at the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation’s refusal to agree to a Dáil debate on the EU Colombian Trade Agreement in advance of ratification by this state.
The Meath West TD said:
“Despite all the talk of citizens’ disconnect with the EU during the recent European Parliament elections the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has refused to agree to a Dáil debate on the EU’s proposed trade agreement with Colombia in advance of ratification by this state.
“Ireland’s ratification of the agreement is subject to prior approval of the Dáil so the short of it is the Minister is refusing to allow TDs debate a trade agreement that he will be seeking their approval on.
“Colombia has had 60 years of conflict, at the heart of which has been the question of land and land grabs. Human rights violations in the country are directly linked to the extremely unequal distribution of land, power and wealth.
“In truth Fine Gael and Labour have a unique opportunity to use Ireland’s leverage in the EU to advocate for human rights in Colombia.
“When debating the agreement the European Parliament raised significant concerns on human rights, environmental rights and labour rights in Colombia.
“Oversight and human rights provisions in the agreement are not sufficiently robust or independent and the Commission has failed to reflect the parliament’s concerns and recommendations in the final agreement due for ratification by Ireland this year.
“Security forces in Colombia are using excessive force and last year alone 70 people were killed during increased social protests against land grabs, working conditions, large-project developments and opposition to free trade agreements which are proving detrimental to peasant farmers who make up one third of the country’s population increased.
“These actions by the Colombia’s security forces negate Minister Bruton’s position that the EU’s trade agreement with Colombia is a vehicle for positive change.
“Members of the Dáil must at a minimum be given the ability and right to debate the EU’s trade agreement its consequences for Colombian citizens and their human rights before voting on it.”