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Government must outline scrutiny powers of Oireachtas Committee examining CETA – Mairéad Farrell TD

10 February, 2021 - by Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, has called on the Government to clarify what remit the European Affairs Committee will have in scrutinising CETA.

Teachta Farrell said: 

“While it is welcome that CETA will receive further scrutiny, it is vital that the Government clarifies what form this scrutiny will take. This is especially important on the back of Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath’s appearance before the Budgetary Oversight Committee yesterday, where they confirmed to me that absolutely no risk analysis had been conducted on CETA’s potential budgetary impact.

“Sinn Féin are absolutely clear that CETA is a bad deal and must be rejected. It is bad for the economy, bad for workers’ rights, bad for the environment and crucially, it is bad for democracy. The fact that our Government could try to pass such a wide-ranging treaty with no analysis of its impact is a frightening dereliction of duty. 

“The fact that the Green Party could be betraying their voters, members and elected officials like this, casts serious doubts on their credentials as a party concerned with the environment.

“The leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan, has previously described this treaty as wrong. One of the principal reasons he cited was that it was written in secret by big corporate interests and their lobbyists. I have yet to hear anyone make a good case of how this treaty would be anything other than hugely harmful to this country. 

“Referral to the European Affairs Committee provides an opportunity to ensure there is some level of scrutiny of this issue. However, it must be detailed, considered and worthwhile scrutiny which will give the public the transparency and accountability that this requires.

“I am asking the Government to clarify the following fundamental questions - what will be the Committee’s remit in this matter, will other committees be involved given the wide-ranging nature of this treaty, will the European Affairs Committee have the power to recommend CETA’s rejection, what experts will be called to testify, will civil society groups/NGOs be allowed to testify, and lastly will it examine the budgetary risks it poses?

“My colleague Senator Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Justice, is absolutely right that the referral to the Committee must not be a diversion tactic and one that is designed to wait until the spotlight is off the Green Party in order to rush it through.

“By all means let’s thoroughly investigate the costs and supposed case for CETA, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking CETA is anything but bad for the people of our island or that they can be hoodwinked by vague scrutiny.”


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