Ireland will not ratify a trade deal which damages Irish farming - Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar.
John Downing

John Downing

Ireland will not ratify a trade deal which damages Irish farming and food processing, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted today.

Mr Varadkar also hit back at Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on the issue – accusing his party of having things both ways on EU issues.

The Taosieach was speaking in the Dáil as farmers took to the Dublin streets to demonstrate against an EU offer to buy 70,000 tonnes of beef as part of a trade deal now under negotiation with South American states.

The farmers warn that farm and meat processing standards in countries like Brazil and Argentina are far below those in the EU, allowing the imports to unfairly undercut home produce.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the deal with South America’s so-called Mercosur states added to the economic threat from Brexit.

“All the main farming organisations across this island are rightly opposed to this move,” Mr Adams said. He said beef and poultry should be taken out of the Mercosur negotiations.

The Taoiseach agreed that there were concerns about Ireland and the EU’s high standards on animal welfare, health and food processing. He said Ireland may not give the necessary ratification to the Mercosur deal if this country’s interests were not respected.

“But we need to bear in mind, though, that free trade deals are free trade deals. They are not just for any one sector,” Mr Varadkar said.

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The Taoiseach added that Sinn Féin remained “ambiguous about the European Union” – despite strident statements on Brexit. He said the EU was ultimately a free-trad bloc and Ireland had benefitted from this.

Online Editors

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