Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Seán Crowe TD, has criticised the Government’s approach to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and outlined Sinn Féin’s severe concerns with the purposed agreement, which is still being negotiated.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Crowe said:

“There is a huge lack of debate and Oireachtas scrutiny of this massive and potentially far reaching agreement, which could have huge negative consequences for Ireland.

“This was the first time the Government allowed a standalone debate on TTIP in the Dáil and it follows their failed attempt to create an engaging cross Committee report on TTIP.

“Sinn Féin TDs raised a variety of serious concerns that we have with TTIP and how it could negatively affect Ireland.

“One of the most glaring issues is the so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

“This will allow companies to bypass national court systems and go directly to international, investor-biased, tribunals to sue Governments if they introduce new rules or laws after corporations makes an investment in that country.

“This complete undermines state sovereignty and democratic decision making.

“Instead of being concerned about bypassing national courts Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly has gone as far as calling for ISDS tribunals to be located in Ireland.

“The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, Richard Bruton, asserts that the mechanism, which allows private corporations to sue national Governments for potential loss of revenue or profits, will not interfere with the right of Governments to regulate.

“Yet the European Commission has had to back track on its original ISDS plans because of the outcry of European citizens but their repackaged ISDS plans aren’t fooling anyone.

“This ‘new’ ISDS would take the form of a new European Investment Court. This court would not engage with national courts, it would open taxpayers in Ireland up to liabilities not previously imagined, and it would limit the ability of the Irish Government to legislate freely when it comes to public services. This has massive implications as it would directly undermine the Irish Constitution.

“My colleague, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, has commissioned a formal legal opinion into the constitutionality of the European Investment Court proposed by the EU commission

“We expect that the opinion will confirm that an Irish referendum will be required if the Commission proceeds as it has indicated.

“Yet the Government continues to champion this anti-democratic move and seems to have no concerns regarding the compatibility of this court system with the Irish constitution.

“I hope that it will create a referendum as this could only be a good thing for the democratic process and for citizen engagement.

“Sinn Féin, and millions of citizens across the EU, would welcome such a scenario.”