A number of rural independent TDs are calling for a debate and a vote to take place in the Dáil on the EU-Mercosur trade deal.

Yesterday, Tuesday, July 2, TDs Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Collins and Mattie McGrath spoke in front of Leinster House and called for the trade deal to be discussed.

Speaking to AgriLand, Michael Healy-Rae said: “I want a vote. I want to see the colour of lads’ shirts on this. Where do politicians stand?

This is a fait accompli by the Government. They’ve thrown in the towel and are selling out agriculture and the beef sector.

“Is there any opposition to this? Is anyone willing to stand up?” asked Healy-Rae, adding: “Any politician that supports this is a disgrace. I would call them a traitor.

“I have every respect for tourism, foreign direct investment and small businesses, but we are a farming country, made up of small family farms,” Healy-Rae stressed.

During leaders’ questions in the Dáil yesterday – in which the Taoiseach was absent – Healy-Rae put the Mercosur issue to Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

The minister kept talking about positive aspects to the deal. He repeatedly used the phrase ‘we have to look at this in the round’.

As to whether or not a debate or vote would happen – and if so, when – Healy-Rae said that it was an issue for the Dáil’s business committee which, he said, agreed to consider it.

Taoiseach casts doubt on vote

Speaking in the Dáil last week, the Taoiseach appeared to cast doubt on whether or not a trade deal with Mercosur would require a Dáil vote.

The Taoiseach explained that if the trade deal is classified as an “exclusive EU competence” then it would not require member state approval to go ahead.

He added that this was unless it was a ‘mixed deal’, in which case member states would have a say.

Under European law, the EU has either ‘exclusive competence’ (where member states don’t have a say) or ‘shared competence’ (where they do) to conclude international agreements.