We’re starting this week with the goings on of the Oireachtas to make sure no one misses that at 4pm this Tuesday the Dáil will be debating the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA). If enacted, the agreement will eliminate most tariffs between Canada and the EU and has the potential to affect areas like health, employment, food, water, education, transport, environment, sovereignty and democracy.
One of the most nefarious aspects of the agreement is that CETA gives corporations sweeping new rights to challenge environmental, social and health regulations in special corporate courts, bypassing domestic courts. The Agreement also requires countries to explicitly list which of their regulations and rules they want excluded from the deal (Ireland’s list is short). And, rather than working on the precautionary principle, governments would be forced to prove, absolutely and beyond any doubt, that a product causes harm before they can ban it.
This week will also see Sinn Féin bring its Homeless Prevention Bill 2020 and motions on the Revised Estimates Volume (the more detailed version of the Budget) and Appropriation Bill.
Over in the Seanad they’re taking statements on the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 and a private members motion on the implementation of the Programme for Government commitment to roll out free access to contraception to women and girls aged 17 to 25 as a matter of priority.
A number of important discussions are still ongoing in the committees this week as well, including the SVP and Threshold report The Housing Assistance Payment: making the right impact?, Eamon Ryan trying to explain why it’s a good thing that we’re paying Denmark because we haven’t reached our climate targets, and ISME and ICTU arguing over statutory sick pay. On Thursday committees will also hear about access to in patient mental health care at acute and specialist level and marginalised students in the education system.
Last week representatives of the public service unions and employers agreed proposals for a new two-year agreement to succeed the Public Service Stability Agreement. Copies of the agreement should be shared and discussed with union members.
Unite members working for the German logistics giant Dachser in Rathcoole will meet today to decide the dates of further actions in the run-up to Christmas. Workers were on strike from Thursday to Saturday due to the company’s refusal to engage collectively with them through their union, notwithstanding a Labour Court recommendation to do so.
There’s only a short time left before TDs vote on the CETA motion on Tuesday. Uplift has provided an option for people to email their local TD asking them to postpone the vote until there is a proper chance to debate this toxic deal.
However, mass emails can only go so far. Comhlámh has written a handy guide to engaging with your public representatives on CETA, whether through your own email or calling them. It includes key questions like why has the Irish government not protected its public services like other countries through the negative list, how can the ICS mechanism be justified, and how can they ratify a deal that privatises so many of our public services.
The monthly peace vigils at Shannon have been on hold for the last while because of the pandemic, but the US hasn’t put its wars on hold for Covid-19. Shannonwatch will be back on Sunday 20th December at 2pm for a socially distanced vigil.