Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Topical Issue Debate

Human Rights

5:10 pm

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I understand the commitment Ireland has to human rights in Colombia and that we have assisted the peace process efforts there, but since the ceasefire violence against land defenders has increased in Colombia, and according to the figures, it is increasing every month. By buying coal from the mine, the ESB is undermining the work of Irish Aid and our commitment to sustainable development goals. The mine does not bring any benefits to the local communities and the Government facilitates the huge tax avoidance in which these mining companies partake. Colombian taxpayers are, therefore, actively subsidising the mines which are destroying their environment, health and livelihoods, while the perpetrators avoid tax. This is clearly an issue.

The people of Ireland do not know where this coal comes from and what price is paid for it. I have outlined that to the Minister of State and I will not let this issue go. What happens to the coal before we burn it is not someone else's problem; it is our problem. We are paying for it and it is our problem. The Government is the main shareholder, sitting on the board of the ESB. We are buying coal from this company. It is well past time that the mine owners respected the rights of communities and were held to account for their actions. We need to send a clear message that we will not support human rights abuses or the destruction of the environment by buying this coal. We have responsibilities as legislators to stop this and the Government has a moral and ethical responsibility with regard to how the ESB operates.

Today we passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill. Here is a prime example of what we should not be doing but are doing. We need to divest ourselves from buying coal from this notorious mine. What we are doing does not make sense. On the one hand, we are trying to bring peace to the region, but, on the other, we are propping up those who are undermining the peace process in the region.


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