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Minister’s refusal to hold Dáil debate on CETA ‘absolutely disgraceful’ – Quinlivan

7 April, 2017 - by Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan has strongly criticised Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s response to his request for a Dáil debate to be held on CETA, the trade agreement between the EU and Canada.

Speaking today, Deputy Quinlivan said;

“This trade deal has been controversial from the very beginning and instead of engaging with citizens and workers across Europe to address their problems with the agreement; negotiations were dominated by big business interests and pushed through regardless of concerns raised.

“Many people in Ireland still aren’t aware of the potential effects of CETA, highlighting the need for a Dáil debate on the matter. It will further distort trade and wealth in favour of larger multinational corporations at the expense of indigenous business. Small and Medium Enterprises right across Europe will be disadvantaged by CETA. Coupled with other EU trade deals coming down the line, CETA will be devastating for Irish agriculture, farming families and rural communities.

“Provisional application of the trade agreement commenced on February 15th 2017, and soon 95% of the agreement will in force, despite the fact that the Dáil has not had a debate on the matter.

“I specifically asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor when a debate will take place in the Dáil on CETA, and her response highlights a serious disregard for democratic procedures in this country.

“The Minister responded by saying ‘I believe that it is important to wait to see the benefits of CETA come into being, before CETA is put before the Dáil for ratification’.

“I am genuinely astonished at this response. Is the Minister aware that it is not her personal choice, nor that of Fine Gael, to determine if she sees it fit to allow the Dáil to have a say on a wide-reaching trade deal with serious implications for Ireland.

“Does she understand that this is a parliamentary republic, where proposed legislation must be put to elected representatives for debate and ratification? If it were the case that every piece of legislation was to be implemented first and debated later, then the need for a parliament would be redundant.

“Also Fine Gael’s interpretation of what constitutes a benefit differs greatly across society. Sinn Féin recognises the harm this deal has the potential to do, specifically to workers and the beef industry in Ireland, and so the need for a debate is immediate.

“The provisional ratification of this trade agreement flies in the face of democratic principles. This Government’s sheer arrogance and blatant refusal of an opportunity to debate a matter of serious consequence for workers, farmers and citizens, is absolutely disgraceful, and I would encourage the Minister to revisit her position on this.” 

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