The profits of multinational companies will be put ahead of the welfare of the State, its citizens, and the environment, if the Investment Court System is introduced by the Government this month.
This is the view of Social Democrats Galway City East councillor, Owen Hanley [pictured below], who has warned that the Investment Court System, which will come to a Government vote in the coming weeks, would allow companies to sue the State.
The ICS creates a dispute settlement system for multinational companies to sue a state for damages if a government introduces new laws or policies that the company thinks will reduce its future profits.
The court system is a part of the Canadian-European Trade Deal, most of which has applied in Ireland since 2017. However there are serious concerns it compromise consumer, environmental and labour standards. "It places the profits of multinationals above all else," says Cllr Hanley. "It's designed to protect investment rights and profits - not the public or environmental interest."
'We already have a domestic court system that treats multinationals quite well and hasn't stopped foreign direct investment into this country'
Cllr Hanley said it was "difficult enough" to get the Government to enact the climate action Ireland needs, without introducing a system which could, as has happened in Canada, see a company suing that nation's government over a moratorium on fracking.
Cllr Hanley said there is no need for the Government to "rush this crucial vote through without parliamentary scrutiny", especially as a number of other countries have also yet to sign to the deal.
"We need to discuss and deliberate the impacts this new, external court system would have," he said. "We already have a domestic court system that treats multinationals quite well and hasn't stopped foreign direct investment into this country. The positives to agreeing to this new corporate friendly court system are unclear, but the negative impacts for the environment have been clear for some time now."