Patrick Costello TD’s failed High Court challenge is a boost for Irish-Canadian relations

17 September 2021

The Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) is encouraged by the decision of the High Court to dismiss a challenge by Green Party TD Patrick Costello over the constitutionality of the CETA trade deal.

Deputy Costello had argued that the State could be made liable for damages for loss suffered by a Canadian investor as a result of Irish environmental regulations. He also had concerns about Ireland’s ability to introduce regulation should the deal be ratified.

Ms Justice Nuala Butler said she was satisfied that Mr Costello had “not established that the ratification of the 2016 CETA in the manner proposed would be clearly unconstitutional”, and ruled that CETA “does not entail an unconstitutional transfer of the State’s sovereignty”.

Welcoming the ruling, ICBA Chair, Chris Collenette said:

‘The decision of the High Court paves the way for the government to ratify CETA in the Dail. It specifically addresses the concerns raised by those the committee whose only reluctance to ratification was the ICS provision. In short, it is confirmation and reassurance that public interest law will always come first. All members of the committee have acknowledged the economic benefit of the CETA trade agreement but had concerns over the potential of legal cases against the State; now that these concerns have been address by the High Court, it’s time to get CETA over the line.

CETA has already fuelled a more than 30% rise in the value of goods trade between Ireland and Canada. However, Ireland, which, post-Brexit, will be the only English speaking jurisdiction in the EU, is now behind Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden to formally ratify the deal with Canada, predominantly an English speaking country.

Just prior to COVID-19 hitting the country, we commissioned a survey of our members, including some of the largest Canadian, and Canadian-owned companies in Ireland. 70% of respondents had planned to hire more staff and 62% are set to increase wages. While that was pre-COVID-19, it shows the investment sentiment is solid. Ireland is pushing an open door when it comes to attracting Canadian companies.

With a new Irish consulate in Vancouver, a new IDA office in Toronto, and a new Enterprise Ireland office in Montreal ((in addition to the existing one in Toronto), the last government made significant progress developing this valuable relationship. Ratifying CETA through the Dáil is really the last piece of the Canadian-Ireland puzzle and we are calling on the government to do the right thing and ratify this deal as a priority.”


Chris Collenette is a Canadian who has lived in Dublin for over 12 years.

He is Consultant to Dublin law firm Philip Lee, where he manages the firms Canada Desk.

He previously served as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Industry, and the Minister of Health.

Further Info: Patrick Haughey, ICBA Media Relations 087 2394054