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01/28/2015 12:00:00 AM


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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Motions\Environment\Waste management\regulations

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Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru\Motion
Environment\Waste management\regulations
Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru
Motions\Environment\regulations\Waste management

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Deputy Dara Calleary

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Dara Calleary

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Snippet Contents:

I want to apologise that I will have to leave the debate early, owing to the late rescheduling of it. I had made another commitment. We will oppose this motion but that should not be a surprise because, as a member of the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I very readily signed up to the all-party agreement on the concerns of the committee around this agreement. Those concerns were not addressed by the Minister. For the benefit of the House, I will quote the conclusions of the committee: That document was endorsed by every member of the committee and signed off on by the Chairman. The Minister's remarks focused primarily on the economic side and were very aspirational in regard to human rights issues. During 2013, the first year of the agreement, 78 human rights defenders, including 15 lawyers, were killed in Colombia. In the first six months of 2014, 30 human rights defenders killed. The difficulty of enforcing and the ignorance of human rights in these countries are still real and very apparent, despite the fact this agreement has been in place.
This motion will probably pass today given the Government's majority but we need a number of commitment from it to ensure some sort of protection of human rights. I would like an annual review of this agreement by both Houses of the Oireachtas to ensure the provisions signed up to by the other side are actually delivered on. Although the Minister said that one of the founding principles of the agreement was respect for various human rights principles, there is nothing really strong in regard to enforcement measures in it. Unless we have an annual review in this House, then it will be a dereliction of our duty to campaign on and monitor the abuses still going on in these countries.
The Minister mentioned our very proud record in foreign affairs, about which he is right, but signing this agreement will sully that proud record. Signing this agreement in its current form, where the protection of human rights is seen as an AOB item in these countries and where opposition and voices of opposition in civil society are seen as an AOB item after trade, after commerce and after profit, is wrong. That is not the foreign affairs and foreign policy tradition on which we have based our country.
If we are to have any respect in this Parliament for the committee system, about which will speak so highly and in which we all participate, surely we cannot ignore the views of the committee which actually discussed this agreement in detail. I understand there was also a very good discussion at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade on this. Many members will vote on this today without knowing fully what they are supporting and the conditions of this agreement, in particular the conditions of people in the countries with which we are supposed to reach agreement. Committees have discussed it and have come to an opinion on it. The Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, of which I am a member, stated clearly that this should not be ratified in its current form and in the current environment. The European Union seems happy to treat its own citizens as economic instruments but we need to stand up to criticism outside the European Union.