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Minister must clarify position on CETA implementation - Carthy

28 March, 2017 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West has called on Minister Mitchell O’Connor to come forward with a timeline for a debate and referendum on CETA at national level. Speaking from Brussels Carthy said:

“It has now been two months since the European Parliament voted on the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Free Trade Agreement (CETA). However despite repeated questioning, the Minister is refusing to come forward with a clear timeline for the debate and vote on CETA in the Dáil.

“This shows not only disregard for the Irish Constitution and Justice system, but also disregard for co-legislators in the Seanad who last year rejected the deal on the basis that it is clearly a bad deal for Ireland.

“By late Spring, almost 95% of the deal will be provisionally applied through a procedure that flies in the face of the democratic process. This means that almost all provisions, save those on the establishment of a multilateral Permanent Investment Court, will be in operation.

“At no point in the negotiation process did the Minister or the Fine Gael Government explain how they intended to address these sovereignty issues leaving us in danger of violating our own Constitution. At no point either did they address the concerns voiced by the Seanad.

“This puts us at odds with many of our European counterparts where constitutional challenges are gathering pace against the deal. France, Belgium and Bulgaria have all confirmed that they will be putting the deal before their Constitutional Courts based on legal issues such as equality before the law, national sovereignty and lack of references to the precautionary principle.

“If the Government thinks sitting back and waiting for provisional application to convince people will work, they are deluded. Mobilisations across Europe have proven the lack of appetite for an unaccountable international court with the powers to call nationals laws into question.

“It is not the prerogative of Fine Gael to dismiss issues of constitutionality, and it is impossible for Ireland to ratify CETA so long as it contravenes the Irish Constitution.

“The time has come for a referendum on this deal or we risk setting a very dangerous precedent for our courts. I will again be seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss these issues in detail.”

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