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Divisions emerging between Govt parties over amending legislation to ratify CETA

The Supreme Court ruled that ratifying CETA currently was unconstitutional.

THERE ARE DIVISIONS brewing between the coalition parties over how to act on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), with the Green Party taking a different position following the Supreme Court’s decision late last week.

The seven-judge Supreme Court last week ruled that the trade deal with Canada could not be ratified by the Oireachtas unless current legislation is amended.

In the judgement, the court ruled – by a majority of four to three – that the Constitution of Ireland precludes the trade deal from being ratified under current laws.

However, the court also ruled – by a majority of six to one – that the deal would no longer be unconstitutional if parts of the Arbitration Act 2010 was amended.

This means that if the Act is amended, the Government could avoid the need for a referendum on CETA, with the court saying it was a matter for the Oireachtas.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that initial assessments show that with changes to domestic legislation, a referendum can be avoided.

However, there are questions on whether or not the Government will be able to persuade enough Green Party TDs to vote on changing legislation to ratify CETA. Sources within the party have previously suggested that this would be unlikely.

While both Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have supported the ratification of the deal, a Green Party spokesperson has now slipped back, saying that the party wants time to evaluate the Supreme Court judgement.

“There is a desire to look what the next steps are,” said the spokesperson.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan told Morning Ireland today that the Supreme Court judgement needed to be reflected on before the Government makes a decision on CETA.

“We have to reflect on that judgment and read it in real detail. We’ve to read all seven because there was different views within the Supreme Court itself,” said Ryan

“I think first and foremost, when it’s a very complex legal issue we don’t rush to a conclusion.”

However, a spokesperson for Fine Gael said it was the intention of the Tánaiste to work to ratify CETA.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also made his intentions to ratify the deal clear this afternoon during Leaders’ Questions, welcoming the judgement by the Supreme Court.

In Blackpool last week, Martin also questioned how people could be opposed to the free trade deal with Canada.

“Why would people be opposed to a free-trade agreement with Canada, can someone answer that?” Martin asked.

Varadkar also reacted to the ruling last week, calling the decision “disappointing” but saying “the Government remains committed to ratifying the CETA agreement in full”.

Additional reporting by Christina Finn

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