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01/28/2015 12:00:00 AM


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McGrath, Finian

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Motions

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Motion

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regulations

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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 Finian McGrath

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Deputy Finian McGrath

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FinianMcGrath

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Finian McGrath

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04/17/2020 03:11:46 PM

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Snippet Contents:

I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this important motion, which relates to the free trade agreement with Colombia. I strongly oppose the motion on the basis of the facts on the ground and my visit to Colombia in 2006. I did not spend my time in Bogota smoking Havana cigars and chilling out in my hotel. I had a good look around the city. I met many people. I visited the prisons and met the prisoners. I visited the voluntary non-governmental organisations. I met the Coca-Cola workers. We met Ministers and we had a good look around. We saw the situation and had a very good and objective view. We learned a lot from that experience. It shaped my views on this agreement. That is why I am strongly opposed to it. I urge my colleagues in this House to stand up for human rights by voting against the ratification of the EU trade agreement with Colombia. I say that on the basis of what I heard on the ground and witnessed at first hand.
Approximately 5.5 million people have been internally displaced by the conflict in Colombia. This is the highest such number in the world. Seventy human rights defenders, including community, indigenous and Afrodescendant leaders, were killed in 2013. The conflict has claimed at least 220,000 since 1958, with more than four in every five victims being civilians. That is the reality on the ground. When I was in Colombia, I met many victims' families, including the wives of lawyers who were gunned down and killed. An average of 54,410 women suffered sexual violence in Colombia each year between 2001 and 2009. That equates to 144 women a day, or six women an hour. Many of these acts of violence took place in the context of the conflict. That is a reality and a fact. Nearly 3,000 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia in recent decades. I will never forget the fear in the eyes of the Coca-Cola workers the day I met them in Bogota at a secret meeting with a group of Irish politicians and lawyers and American and international human rights people. Some of their colleagues are among the 3,000 trade unionists who have been killed. This makes Colombia the most dangerous country for many trade unions. It is important that we get to know these facts. Many of the people I met in Colombia were very interested in what was going on in Ireland with regard to our peace process.
I urge all Deputies to reject this motion and to stand with the people, the trade unionists and the citizens of Colombia. Last week, the Irish Government disgracefully flew national flags at half mast even though the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia has been an absolute scandal in recent years. We have to stand up for human rights and stand against this agreement.