We in the Labour party will not be supporting the implementation of CETA. After careful review we are not satisfied that the Investor Court System component of CETA is warranted or appropriate. We are not happy with the lack of enforceable protection measures for labour rights and standards.

There is simply no justification for a system where private corporations can take legal action outside of the regular legal system in either EU member states or Canada. It is not acceptable that a corporation would have the right to access this special court system if they are confronted by either a legislative action or a court ruling, that is not to their liking. The Investor Court System is not open to either states, individuals, trade unions or campaign groups to sue private corporations. This lack of reciprocal access is unacceptable for a democracy like Ireland, with a mature and well established judicial system.

Ireland has benefitted a lot from trade agreements over the past 40 years, but we have never agreed to enter into one of these Investor Court Systems previously, and Labour does not  agree to doing so now. We are very concerned that the Investor Court System will have a chilling effect on the introduction of new environmental regulation needed to tackle climate change, and we cannot accept that.

There is a lot of rhetoric in this agreement on labour standards and labour rights but none of the pronouncements are enforceable or binding. Canada has yet to invoke many International Labour Organisation conventions and the labour element of the CETA is not covered in the general dispute settlement provisions of the agreement, something which tells us an awful lot about its purpose and scope.

As a result the Labour Party will be opposing the ratification of CETA when it comes before the Dáil and Seanad.