Dáil debates

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement: Motion [Private Members]


3:15 pm

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The debate we are having here today on this Mercosur trade deal is primarily about accountability. It is also about transparency and the future of this country and our world. This Government has yet again proved itself to be the epitome of hypocrisy. At a time when, in a piecemeal fashion, Fine Gael and its Independent Alliance colleagues declare a climate emergency in this country, they have been complicit in an agreement to a shabby trade deal motivated solely by profit for certain interests that will have devastating environmental consequences for Ireland, Europe and South America. It has the grubby fingerprints of the big capitalist backers of the politics of Fine Gael, its partners in the European People's Party and, of course, its negotiating Commissioner, Phil Hogan, all over it.

This deal is bad for the environment, ordinary people and the beef industry in Ireland. It is bad full stop. At a time when this country is apparently facing a climate emergency, are we going to roll over and cause untold damage to the climate for the sake of selling European-manufactured cars into South America? To facilitate this entry of cars into their market, the South Americans are tearing down Amazonian rainforests to clear land to graze cattle. They then intend flooding the European market with cheap and, let us be under no doubt about it, substandard beef that this country, which is already in the middle of a beef crisis, will be unable to withstand. Just a few months back, the Taoiseach was telling us he was trying to eat less meat to reduce his carbon footprint. This is globalisation gone mad. It is totally disingenuous of Fine Gael, which wants to impose a carbon tax on Irish citizens that is allegedly aimed at stopping climate change. I urge the Ministers present and the Government to take a step back and think about the logic of their position.

Can the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine or the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation confirm whether this House, and we as legislators, will be given the opportunity to vote on whether this deal is signed up to by Ireland? Will this House, which is representative of the people of this State, have the opportunity to make a final determination on the suitability of this deal? I hope that in their responses, the Ministers will clarify the position. There should be no doubt that resistance to the Mercosur deal is growing across Europe. Farmers in France, Italy, Spain and Poland along with Irish farmers are all against it and it is a certainty that resistance will grow further. This Government will have to decide whose side it is on. Is it on the side of the world's climate and ordinary people or is it on the side of the big corporations and their profits? It is make-your-mind-up time. I hope the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Business, Enterprise and Innovation will make the right choice and urge their colleagues in Cabinet to join them in rejecting this so-called deal.


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