TTIP bad for Ireland and the environment

A chara, – If anyone was wondering whether Fine Gael was listening to growing public concern around TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) then Brian Hayes MEP) (IT 25th February)gave a clear answer (May 25th). It is not listening.

Fine Gael sees the role of the Irish Government as the champions of EU trade deals rather than as defender of Ireland’s interests within same.

Those who have expressed serious reservations on TTIP include groups as diverse as farming organisations, small business bodies, trade unions, health service providers, environmental organisations and consumer advocates. Their reasons are varied and multifaceted.

That Fine Gael would attempt to reduce concerns to a couple of peripheral issues is not surprising. But that it would cite enhanced environmental action as a reason to support TTIP is so outlandish that it highlights either the growing desperation of TTIP supporters or shocking ignorance.


TTIP, by the European Commission’s own admission, represents a danger to the environment.

In its official impact assessment, the commission admitted that TTIP will see millions of extra tonnes of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. The energy chapter in TTIP will see a massive increase in imports of gas and oil from the United States, including from tar sands, which are the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive of all fossil fuels.

The recent leaking of TTIP negotiation texts revealed that climate justice and environmental protection did not feature in negotiations at all.

Both the “general exceptions” rule, enshrined in the Gatt agreement of the World Trade Organisation, and the highly regarded “precautionary principle”, are entirely absent from the negotiating texts.

Mr Hayes states that concerns surrounding the proposed investor court system are “scare tactics”. He explains that such investor dispute mechanisms exist in 1,400 bilateral agreements signed by EU states (he is at odds with the European Commission, which argues that the investor court is significantly different from the old investor-state dispute settlement system) but he fails to mention that of the 1,400, none applies to Ireland.

Why is an Irish Government advocating a system that has never been used in Ireland and which, if enacted, holds the sole purpose of allowing corporations to sue governments for enacting policies through the democratic system?

The entire premise of an investor-state resolution mechanism could only be based on the assumption that Irish and European courts are so systemically flawed that foreign investors should have a special right to bring claims to an alternative judicial system.

As a result of the investor state dispute settlement system in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), Canada is the most sued country in the developed world.

At the end of 2015, Canada had already paid out over €135 million to American corporations as a result of Nafta.

Foreign investors are seeking another €1.75 billion from the Canadian government in new cases.

A total of 63 per cent of claims against Canada relate to environmental protection or resource management programs.

We cannot be both an advocate for environmental protection and a cheerleader for TTIP in its current guise. It is either one or the other. – Is mise,


Sinn Féin,


Co Monaghan.