Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, challenged the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, in the Dáil today over the delays in implementing the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
Crowe also raised the ESB’s importation of coal from the notorious Cerrejon mine in Colombia with the Tánaiste.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The Government was rightly criticised over the long delays in creating and launching the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in the first place. Now it is mising key deadlines set out in its own plan. This is not acceptable.
“The plan was launched in November 2017 and we are nearly one year on, but the crucial Business and Human Rights Implementation Group still remains to be set up.
“I, and many others, have serious concerns regarding a lack of human rights due diligence on behalf of State owned or controlled companies.
“For example we know that 90% of the coal that the ESB imports for its Moneypoint power plant comes from Colombia, and the vast majority of that is from the notorious Cerrejon mine.
“This mine is infamous for the destruction of the environment, forcible displacement of indigenous people and Afro-Colombians living in the area, and claims of ongoing workers’ rights abuses.
“I was somewhat surprised that the Tánaiste claimed today in our Dáil debate that he didn’t know anything about the mine and the ESB imports, considering he provided a written reply to my Parliamentary Question on 24 July 2018 clearly stating he knew about the environmental and human rights issues surrounding the mine for some time now.
“It is not acceptable for the Tánaiste to try duck and dive away from this major human rights and environmental issue when challenged on it in the Dáil, and to continue to drag his feet on the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
“I will be writing to the Tánaiste to clarify the discrepancy in his remarks and again asking for his Department to take action regarding the ESB’s importation of coal from this notorious mine.”