Irish Cancer Society unhappy with ‘Ming’ Flanagan poster

Society did not ‘sign off’ on anti-trade pact advertisement by the Independent MEP

 The Luke “Ming” Flanagan poster at the rear of the car park at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

The Luke “Ming” Flanagan poster at the rear of the car park at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

The Irish Cancer Society says it did not “sign off” on advertising by Independent MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan which quotes it as part of a political campaign against the planned new EU-US trade deal.

The wording quotes from an Irish Cancer Society report which is critical of aspects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The billboard signage with an image of Mr Flanagan is headlined: “Irish Cancer Society Report on TTIP” and reads: “It could allow multinationals to sue countries for introducing public health policies that will reduce the cancer rate and save lives”.

The quote is from the society’s report published in July on the implications of the agreement and its related Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) on public health legislation.

The report concludes that public health legislation in Ireland is under “serious threat” unless the planned trade agreement is “significantly altered”.

The society’s head of advocacy and communications Kathleen O’Meara confirmed that Mr Flanagan did consult the organisation about using the quote for his campaign, and it in turn asked his office for a copy before publication.

“The report is public, and so anyone can quote from it, but our concern was the way the text had been presented and the prominent use of the organisation’s name,” said Ms O’Meara.

Requested changes

The presentation could be perceived as “politicising” the organisation, she said.

She said requested changes were not made, but the society did not intend to take the issue further with the MEP.

The society is critical of what it describes as the “unwavering support for ISDS” by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and it has called on the Government to reassess its support for it.

The ISDS permits companies to bypass the domestic courts system and sue countries for introducing polices they believe would be damaging to their business.

“Tobacco companies have been using ISDS to block, amend and delay laws which are being introduced around the world designed to reduce the harm from smoking,” the society has said.

The TTIP aims to reduce regulation and stimulate economic growth, but the ISDS threatens to undermine Ireland’s global stance in anti-tobacco initiatives, the society added.

Mr Flanagan was unavailable for comment on Thursday.