Dáil vote on EU-Canada trade deal delayed as Greens and opposition raise concerns

Dáil vote on EU-Canada trade deal delayed as Greens and opposition raise concerns

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan: A number of his party's TDs said they felt blindsided by the announcement that had been nodded through Cabinet. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Government's controversial vote on The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) has been postponed until the new year.

The free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union was due to be ratified in the Dáil after a 55-minute debate on Tuesday.

The vote will now not go ahead until January as concerns have been flagged by Green TDs as well as the majority of the opposition.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Eamon Ryan met on Monday evening to discuss a number of options, after which, a spokesman said: "The Leaders met this evening and discussed the Ceta motion and reiterated their support for ratification. However, they agreed to reschedule it for January as this will allow for a longer and more considered debate.” 

A government source said that the Bill had been postponed since October to give Mr Ryan time to get his members "on side" however it appears the Green Party are still largely against the deal. If the vote goes ahead in January, Green Party members will be expected to vote for it.

There are concerns that the deal with have implications for Ireland's public services and the necessary actions to tackle climate crisis.

If ratified, Ceta would allow corporations to sue the Irish State through an 'Investor Court System’ over regulatory decisions that negatively impact their profits.

Activists have raised issues around climate change and ending direct provision as two examples of the types of cases that could be taken.

The Green Party had a parliamentary party meeting on Thursday in which a number of TDs said they felt "blindsided" by the announcement, that had been "nodded through" cabinet.

Internal messages from senior Green Party members seen by the Irish Examiner detail that the Green Party MEPs in Brussels, the party chair, deputy chair, national coordinator, chair of the policy council as well as half of the national executive, and many councillors have all opposed the agreement.

It's understood that some within the party are mulling a special convention to deal with the issue.

TDs Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello both expressed the view privately to Eamon Ryan and publicly on social media that they could not vote for the agreement.

Patrick Costello told the Irish Examiner: "Ratification of CETA was expressly rejected during negotiations.

"This should not be coming back now at all, and should not be coming back without a clear reason and without internal agreement.

"There is no compelling reason to do this now - there are still numerous member states who haven't ratified it, the German constitutional court is still examining it. Also, no compelling reason has been given as to why we need to rush this through or to roll back on a position agreed during negotiations."

As the Dáil was due to vote on the issue on Tuesday, it would sit at Leinster House, with reduced numbers of 45 for the vote.

It's understood Neasa Hourigan, Patrick Costello, and Marc Ó Cathasaigh were all on the roster to vote for the party in the Dáil on Tuesday. Mr Ó Cathasaigh has also flagged concerns with his colleagues on the vote.

Social Democrat TD Cian O'Callaghan previously wrote to the Ceann Comhairle requesting the motion be withdrawn "as there is not sufficient time for proper debate and scrutiny."

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Justice, Senator Lynn Boylan, criticised the government’s plan to sneak through the ratification of the Ceta trade agreement.

“Voting to ratify Ceta would be massively damaging to any hopes of tackling the climate crisis in a fair way," she said.

“Just 100 companies are responsible for 71% percent of emissions. Governments need to be challenging the power of corporations in order to fight the climate crisis. This trade deal would hinder that."

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