Grassroots campaign launches to stop CETA ratification

11 February 2021 

A grassroots group known as “Stop CETA Ireland” has launched a campaign to stop the Irish government from ratifying the controversial Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. 

The campaign started to take shape on social media earlier this month, and has since started an email action asking TDs to vote against the deal. 

While acknowledging that certain aspects of CETA have already been integrated into Irish trade policy, activists warn that the Investment Court System (ICS) component of the deal would be destructive and irreversible and would only apply once ratified on a national level. 

Campaigners say their goal is to delay a rescheduled vote, push for a full debate on the deal and subsequently lobby for a “No” vote. 

“There are no benefits to the ICS portion of this deal for the people of Ireland, only costs,” Founding Stop CETA Ireland member Aaron Grant said. 

“It will touch every aspect of our lives; it gives precedent for corporations to do as they please for the sake of profit knowing the government will be reluctant to challenge them,” he warned. 

“Blown away” 

Speaking to The Green News earlier this week, Aaron Grant said he was “simply blown away” by the response to the campaign. 

The group started to take shape following calls for the vote’s postponement in December, and different activists and parties started coming on board to the campaign. 

The group has balanced email campaigning alongside social media activities to raise awareness about the deal. 

“We’ve gotten people getting in touch with us asking us about CETA and that’s absolutely brilliant, that’s what we want. 

We want people to see what we’re about, what CETA is, and why we think it should be stopped,” Mr. Grant told The Green News. 

Following the agreement of the Programme for Government, Mr. Grant left the Green Party and spoke openly about his departure. 

The Dáil was set to vote on the CETA agreement in mid-December, but following public outcry the vote was postponed to a later date. 

The agreement will now go before the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee for further scrutiny. 

The trade component of the deal has been in effect since 2017, and according to a 2019 report from the European Parliamentary Research Service, 98 per cent of tariff cuts have already taken place. 

If special provisions were passed in Ireland in relation to investment protections, it would allow corporations to take legal action against states for laws or regulations that would impact future profits. 

Of the hundreds of such cases taken globally, more than half of them were regarding state rules on environmental protection, and around two-thirds of them were ultimately won by corporations or led to state settlements, according to An Taisce.

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Kayle Crosson