The Green Party is the only group which has been consistent in relation to Mercosur and has kept pushing other groups to oppose the trade deal, Senator and chair of the Green Party Pauline O’Reilly has said.

The Galway native said that the basis of opposing the deal is on environmental grounds but also in relation to the negative effects it would pose for Irish farming.

O’Reilly was speaking as part of a panel discussion with fellow MEP candidates Billy Kelleher and Eddie Punch ahead of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland’s AGM last Thursday.

Fianna Fáil MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher, who is seeking re-election in June, said that while Mercosur is “parked” for the time being, it poses genuine concerns from the point of view of the environment and the impact it would have in the Amazon rainforest and agriculture across Europe.

“The idea that we would encourage and incentivise the stripping of rainforests across South America to plant soya, to plant grass to fatten cattle and to import into a union that already has a surplus in beef. These are areas that I think we have to look at strategically.

“Obviously, Germany and others want to push and pursue Mercosur but France and others are opposing.

Big ideas

“For the time being, I don’t see Mercursor being the significant threat to agriculture that it could be,” Kelleher said.

Meanwhile, Eddie Punch argued that “irrational ideas” from Europe around cutting the national herd have not been met with the discussion around how it’s leading to “carbon leakage” and food to be sourced from outside of the European Union.

“The hypocrisy of that is destroying morale. It’s not that we’ll have dogmatic views for five years, we’ve had them for the last five years and people are sick of it,” he said.