Speaking during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil yesterday, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal, Martin Kenny asked Minister Paschal Donohoe to justify government support for trade deals such as CETA, which he said was bad for Irish agriculture.
Deputy Kenny said, “This week, the European Commission published its report on the Cumulative Effects of Trade Agreements and the facts are that these agreements are not good for agriculture in the European Union and so, they are not good for Irish agriculture.
“CETA is part of the new generation of free trade agreements, along with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and others that move far beyond the lowering of tariffs and free movement of goods and look to attack the sovereignty of national parliaments by interfering in national regulation of trade.
“Non-governmental organisations, civil society and consumer groups have expressed grave concerns about the weak protections in CETA for the environment, workers’ rights, public health, food safety and public procurement and the impact of Investment Court System litigation on these standards and the democratic process.
“The Irish beef farming sector is particularly vulnerable to the effects of CETA, including an influx of 50,000 tonnes of Canadian beef and 75,000 tonnes of pork entering the EU market; the impact of this influx on Irish beef producers will be exacerbated as a result of the Brexit vote due to the fact that Britain has been the largest importer of Canadian Agri-produce and there has been no revision of quotas in response to the Brexit vote.
“The results of this study are damning for the Irish agricultural sector and that is the reality, so I have to ask, will the government now change its position on CETA and TTIP?
“Basically, these are agreements for the big corporations to make massive profits and squeeze out the small producers and providers of services. They are not designed to benefit an economy like Ireland’s and in fact, could do serious damage to our Agri-food industry.
“Will common sense emerge and will you lobby for its rejection in the EU parliament and will you reject it when it comes to a vote in the Dáil?
“The question is will this Government support Irish farmers and Irish industry or will it support this agreement?”