Dáil debates

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement: Motion [Private Members]


4:35 pm

Photo of Pat BuckleyPat Buckley (Cork East, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I will not shout down the Ministers as I want them to listen to me. The deal seems to go out of its way to tick all of the boxes as being the unacceptable face of big European trade. It says a lot that it was 20 years in the making. It is an indictment of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which have played a central role in the European Union for decades. It also speaks to how grossly out of date it is for the modern Europe and the new challenges faced by the world. The idea that free trade means free people has been proved to be a lie told by those who benefit. Free trade simply means free profit for the already powerful and wealthy who control our world. Brazil's far-right President, Jair Bolsonaro, hailed it as historic and one of the most important trade deals of his time. He is on the side of the land barons who have robbed the country for a century and are now destroying the Amazon at an ever-increasing rate, while imprisoning political opponents such as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. It is interesting that the European Union could not strike a deal with Brazil when it had a President who wanted to save the Amazon. Now we will swoop in to reap the spoils in an environmental catastrophe.

Many things have been said about traceability, the quality of products and so on, but no one has spoken about the social impact of the deal. I listened to many of the farmers outside today, many of whom were from my constituency. The incidence of suicide among the young in the farming community is on the rise. The farming community could be wiped out if the deal goes through. They will not have a livelihood or be able to provide for their families. People are genuinely worried. It is a very bad deal for Ireland. Farmers are already struggling and fed up of being beaten with their own sticks. I appeal to the Ministers to support Sinn Féin's motion. Mercosur is the betrayal of every Irish person because of its social impact. We must be realistic. This country cannot produce beef at a cheaper price than what will be imported. Therefore, we will not be able to sell it. The same applies to poultry and pigs. The Government is wiping out a full sector of the farming community, not only businesses but also families. Where are they going to go? Will there be another crisis? We will not have farmers. We will have banks chasing people and undertakers will have to work overtime. That is how bad it could get.

The deal is the betrayal of the country, the economy and the environment. If it goes through, I guarantee that we will end up back here asking the following questions. Where did we get it wrong? What has happened to the country? Why are so many people leaving again? Why can we not produce our own goods? As Ireland has the quality and reputation, why not keep it? I appeal once again to the Ministers to withdraw the Government's amendment and support Sinn Féin's motion.


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