Opposition parties have warned that a new trade deal between the EU and four South American Countries makes a mockery of the government's position on climate change.
The Mercosur free trade deal between the EU, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay is the largest Europe has ever signed – covering a population of 780 million people.
It will allow the South American countries to export 99-thousand tonnes of beef to the EU every year.
The plans have been heavily criticised by the opposition – as well as some within the Government itself – due to concerns over the global climate and the impact on Irish farmers.
Sinn Féin is to table a motion next week calling on all TDs to reject the deal.
The party’s environment spokesperson said the deal will cause “huge chaos to the environment.”
“The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is now at its highest rate in a decade,” he said. “Last year alone, we saw a 13% increase in Amazon deforestation.”
“It is no coincidence that this huge increase in deforestation comes at the same time as Brazil is seeing a huge increase in beef exports.
“Are we really going to trade the Amazon and our climate for cheap beef and steak burgers?”
There are 283 million cattle in Brazil and Argentina alone – compared to seven million in Ireland.
The Irish Farmers Association has warned that the deal will lead to a loss of €700m to the agricultural sector.
Speaking in the Dáil earlier today, Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Dara Calleary criticised the government's involvement in negotiating it.
“Our beef farmers, our poultry farmers and our pig farmers are on ‘Team Ireland’ – but they are not really feeling the team spirit at this stage because they have been thrown to the wolves,” he said.
“So many people in this country are on team Ireland in terms of climate, what do they see? They see a Government acquiescing to a deal that rewards climate change deniers; that rewards the destruction of rainforests; that rewards low standards.”
The European Commission has insisted the deal protects the environment – by obliging those that sign it to “effectively implement” climate pledges made under the Paris Agreement.
One of the pledges would require Brazil to end illegal deforestation by 2030 and restore and replant 12 million hectares of forest every year.
Main image shows a file photo of a section of the Amazon rainforest destroyed and turned into farmland, 01-06-2009. Image: Ton Koene/DPA/PA Images