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Fine Gael MEPs have been compared to fascists

Flanagan didn’t hold back in his criticism.

LUKE ‘MING’ FLANAGAN has compared Fine Gael MEPS to fascists after they voted to postpone a European Parliament debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal.

The Midlands North West MEP took to Twitter earlier to express his views on the subject, posting the below message:

TheJournal.ie contacted all of the MEPs involved, including Flanagan, for comment.

The Fine Gael MEPs did not directly refer to the tweet, but did defend the deal and called for “a constructive debate” on the issue.

Flanagan claims the party is refusing to debate him.

However, in a Twitter exchange with the independent MEP today, The Week in Politics clarified that it had not made any decision to facilitate a debate:

Yesterday a discussion and vote on the deal was postponed as more than 200 amendments were tabled in relation to the deal.

The vote to suspend the debate was passed by 183 votes to 181 after it was supported by centre-right and conservative groups, this includes the European People’s Party of which Fine Gael is a member.

The parliament’s trade committee is due to debate the TTIP report and potential amendments next week (16 June) with a plenary vote to be rescheduled for a later date.

‘Elements of concern’

In a statement, Fine Gael MEPs Seán Kelly, Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Deirdre Clune said they “would like to see greater progress in the on-going negotiations between the EU and US which aim to establish a trade partnership”.

Speaking in Strasbourg, the leader of the Fine Gael delegation in the European Parliament and Ireland’s only member of the International Trade Committee (INTA), Seán Kelly MEP said:

“The Fine Gael delegation supports a balanced TTIP agreement that would guarantee and preserve high standards, strengthen economic, enhance investment opportunities and increase competitiveness and innovation.

Investment is crucial for further European growth in jobs and economic development. TTIP could greatly benefit Ireland’s strong trade relations with the US, with 21% of all Irish exports already going to the US. Indeed, an additional €2.4 billion could be added to our real national income with a successful TTIP agreement.

“However, the proper implementation of regulation is necessary in order to ensure our policy objectives in Europe are preserved and advanced,” Mr Kelly continued.

“One sensitive issue which will be discussed at the Trade Committee meeting of Parliament next week deals with a compromised amendment on investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

Fine Gael MEPs support the compromise proposal by the EPP Group for a permanent solution for resolving disputes between investors and states by having a revised version of the old ISDS system, subject to democratic principles and scrutiny.

Deirdre Clune said TTIP “has the potential to create 10,000 jobs for Ireland”, but admitted there are “elements of concern”.

It is still under negotiation. I cannot understand outright opposition to the prospect of a deal at this stage. Yes, there are elements of concern, for instance in relation to ISDS and food safety. We have acknowledged those and they will be addressed in due course. They form part of ongoing negotiations. What we are striving for here is a good deal which will create jobs and stability for Ireland and Europe.

Flanagan isn’t the only MEP who isn’t a fan of TTIP – or at least certain aspects of it:

Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan said the deal “will benefit the corporations at the expense of the citizens”.

Meanwhile, independent MEP Marian Harkin has raised concerns about the ISDS aspect of the agreement:

Nessa Childers, the only Irish member of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group which caused the vote in the parliament to be postponed, said Fine Gael is “downplaying valid and serious reservations about TTIP”.

“This is a very serious issue across Europe and, to put it simply, my concern and the concerns of many others are centred on the question ‘How can we trade with the US when that country has vastly different standards for example around affordable health care, food safety and employment law?’”

Childers has tabled an amendment to remove private arbitration mechanisms from the trade agreement. The amendment was tabled with fellow S&D parliamentarians who also oppose the ISDS scheme.

Read: Left-wing campaigners are derailing a free-trade deal with the US for ‘political reasons’

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Órla Ryan

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