May 11, 2023
Cross-party Oireachtas Committee demands CETA be put to referendum – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

(Gaeilge Below)

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed today’s Dáil discussion on the report agreed by the cross-party Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Irish language, Gaeltacht and Irish-Speaking Community on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada (CETA).

The Committee, including government TDs and Senators, agreed 10 recommendations as part of their 40-page report, having spent the best part of two years commissioning and analysing research on the potential impacts of CETA on the Irish language and the Gaeltacht, with a focus both on language rights under the treaty and on how language protections and Gaeltacht subsidies could be negatively affected by investor protections.

Following the report’s publication in February, the Dáil has set aside time to discuss it today.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh, who chairs the Committee, said:

“This is a significant report, not least because it is the first time a cross-party committee has recommended that CETA should not be ratified by the government without a referendum. This is also notable as the first time an Oireachtas Committee has commented on CETA since leading members of our judiciary referred to the agreement as neither constitutional nor democratic when Costello v Government of Ireland came before the Supreme Court last year.

“Of particular concern to this Committee were the ways in which the legal framework and investor protections set to be established under CETA would undermine the status of Irish in the courts, thereby affecting the legal rights of Irish speakers, while also potentially significantly stifling the ability of the government to protect and promote the Irish language through ambitious policy changes or Gaeltacht subventions.

“Even within the small field of Irish language and Gaeltacht policy, the impact of such constraints could have far-reaching consequences.

“Examples of policies that could be deemed to threaten profits or competitiveness for Canadian investors include introducing bilingual packaging in shops or percentage requirements for Irish language content on audiovisual platforms or music on radio, any obligations on private companies to serve Gaeltacht communities through Irish, or Údarás na Gaeltachta deciding to support offshore renewable energy or fisheries.

“At its root, this means that CETA could block the capacity of a future government to support the Gaeltacht or promote Irish, in particular in the business world.

“The Committee has also drawn attention to the failure of the European Union and the Irish government to protect our cultural industries and creative talent on an even playing field with their Canadian counterparts. Answers are needed on this.

“I hope government will now at last pay heed to the warnings coming from their own party colleagues and ensure a referendum is held before any ratification, and I ask other Committees to consider the potential impact CETA could have on their areas of remit.

“Clearly, given the gravity of what the Supreme Court judges had to say, this cannot be left to government alone.”

Éilíonn Coiste traspháirtí Oireachtais go gcuirfear CETA chuig reifreann – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

D’fháiltigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD de chuid Shinn Féin roimh an plé sa Dáil inniu ar thuarascáil a d’aontaigh an Comhchoiste traspháirtí an Oireachtais don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do Phobal Labhartha na Gaeilge ar an gComhaontas Cuimsitheach Eacnamaíoch agus Trádála idir an Aontas Eorpach agus Ceanada (CETA).

D’aontaigh an Coiste, Teachtaí Dála agus Seanadóirí Rialtais san áireamh, 10 moltaí a chur chun cinn mar chuid den tuarascáil 40 leathanach, tar éis dóibh beagnach dhá bhliana a chaitheamh ag coimisiúnú agus ag scrúdú taighde ar impleachtaí féadartha CETA ar an nGaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht, agus fócas ar leith ar chearta teanga faoin gComhaontas agus ar conas a bhféadfadh drochthionchar a bheith ag cosaintí infheisteora ar chosaintí teanga agus fhordheontais Gaeltachta.

Tar éis don tuarascáil a bheith foilsithe i mí Feabhra, tá am curtha ar leataobh ag an Dáil inniu chun é a phlé.

Dúirt an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, atá ina Chathaoirleach ar an gCoiste:

“Tuarascáil suntasach is ea seo, go háirithe toisc gurb é an chéad uair inar aontaigh coiste traspháirtí nár chóir don rialtas CETA a dhaingniú gan reifreann. Díol spéise atá ann freisin toisc gurb é an chéad uair a rinne Coiste Oireachtais trácht ar CETA ó rinne breithiúna sinsearacha sa Stát seo cur síos ar an gComhaontas mar rud nach bhfuil bunreachtúil nó daonlathach nuair a tháinig Costello v Rialtas na hÉireann ós comhair an Chúirt Uachtarach anuraidh.

“Ábhar imní a chur as don Choiste seo go háirithe ná na bealaí ina ndéanfadh creatlach dlíthiúil agus cosaintí infheisteora atá le bunú faoi CETA creimeadh ar stádas na Gaeilge sna cúirteanna, rud a bheadh tionchar aige ar chearta dlíthiúla Gaeilgeoirí, agus an seans freisin go gcuirfeadh siad srian suntasach ar chumas an rialtais an Ghaeilge a chaomhnú agus a chur chun cinn trí athruithe polasaí uailmhianacha nó fordheontais Gaeltachta amach anseo.

“Fiú lasmuigh d’éarnáil bheag an pholasaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta, d’fhéadfadh srianta mar seo cúrsaí a athrú ó bhonn.

“Samplaí de pholasaithe a d’fhéadfadh a shonrú mar baol ag déanamh bagairt ar bhrabús nó iomaíochas infheisteoirí ó Cheanada ná iarrachtaí chun pacáistiú dhátheangach a thabhairt isteach i siopaí nó céatadáin riachtanach do nithe trí Ghaeilge ar árdáin closamhairc nó ceol ar an raidió, aon dualgais a chur ar chomhlachtaí príobháideacha chun freastal ar phobail Gaeltachta trí Ghaeilge, nó dá nglacfadh Údarás na Gaeltachta cinneadh tacú le fuinneamh inathnuaite amach ón gcósta nó in iascaireacht.

“Go bunúsach, ciallaíonn seo go bhféadfadh le CETA cumas rialtas amach anseo tacú leis an nGaeltacht nó an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn a shrianú, go háirithe i saol an ghnó.

“Tarraingníonn an Coiste aird freisin ar theipeadh an Aontas Eorpach agus rialtas na hÉireann tacú lenár gcuid tionscal cultúir agus ár gcruthaitheoirí ar chomhchéim lena gcomhghleacaithe i gCeanada. Teastaíonn freagraí maidir le seo.

“Tá súil agam go dtabharfaidh an rialtas cluas éisteachta faoi dheireadh don rabhadh atá ag teacht óna gcomhghleacaithe rialtais féin anois agus reifreann a chinntiú sula ndéanfar CETA a dhaingniú, agus fiafraím ar Choistí eile féachaint ar thionchar féadartha CETA ar na réimsí faoina gcúram.

“Is léir, toisc na buairt léirithe ag bhreithimh na Cúirte Uachtaracha, nach féidir é seo a fhágáil faoin rialtas ann féin.”

Is féidir an tuarascáil iomlán a léamh ag an nasc seo (The full report in Irish can be read at this link): https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/33/comhchoiste_na_gaeilge_na_gaeltachta_agus_phobal_labhartha_na_gaeilge/reports/2023/2023-02-22_tuarascail-ar-an-gcomhaontas-cuimsitheach-eacnamaioch-agus-tradala-ccet_en.pdf

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