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TTIP Protest , Or: Transatlantic Trade Ignores People

Image © Liam McGukin. 

I felt gravitated towards the energy emitted by the thousands that rumbled past. The closer I grew, the stronger its pull. As I reached the edge of the procession I could resist no longer, its energy too strong, I too was drawn in. Here in the chaos of the demonstration a maelstrom of activity encapsulated me. Whistles blew, drums beat, and people chanted. There was something about this collective energy that felt boundless. I realised then and there that together we were capable of making our voices heard, capable of change, capable of stopping this TTIP trade deal.

The acronym TTIP, (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), pronounced Tea-Tip, might have the connotations of a delicious cup of Earl Grey, but is in reality a concoction likely to leave a bad taste in your mouth. The trade deal looks set to affect everything from our food, to employment prospects and even the environmental future of the EU. So if an agreement is passed between America and Europe what can we expect?

We are told, or rather what we can ascertain about this secret deal, is that we should expect a boost in trade between America and the EU. (I hadn’t even realised that it had lapsed). Thus bringing harmonisation to the market, this would in turn boost profits and foster better trade opportunities. Yet if this is the case why are so many up-in-arms over the agreement?

Image © Liam McGukin. 

Well it seems that opening up a deregulated trade zone with America would compromise many of the standards and regulations that we in Europe hold in high regard. All of a sudden we could be on the receiving end of GM foods, beef laden with hormones, and cosmetics tested on animals – all things in Europe we simply don’t permit. But that is just the beginning. Threats to employment have also been speculated with a CEPR study predicting job losses at over 680,000 in Europe alone.

And here I was, in the middle of the TTIP demonstration, absorbing the energy of this enormous crowd. We walked together, smiling, chanting and waving banners, people bound by solidarity, standing up for what they believe in. I had never felt anything quite like it; this was my very first rally. And I had to be here.

The march was important to me now more than ever. Not only did I see this as an infringement of human rights on both sides of the Atlantic, I myself had realised a duality in my life. I was all to keen to discuss and argue about what I thought was right and wrong, yet I rarely did anything more than verbalise it. After juggling work commitments I was able to place this as a priority. I had made a stand; engaging in some form of action rather than my usual stance as a supposed oracle of morality in my local bar.

Image © Liam McGukin. 

The support for the demonstration was incredible and extremely positive. To see thousands upon thousands unite in agreement over something we all believed in is a testimony to human integrity. The experience reminded me of a saying my friend would frequently regale us with, ‘I might not be the falling domino but I want to shake the ground’. In short we should stand up for what we hold to be true, not because we expect to be responsible for change, but because in following our moral compass in time what is right will always prevail.

By Liam McGuckin

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