Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has condemned this morning’s Spanish police raids of Catalan Government Departments and the arrest of 12 senior officials.

Crowe called the raids and arrests as unprecedented in recent history and a threat to democracy.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“A majority of Members of the democratically elected Catalan Parliament have approved legislation to allow an independence referendum to take place on 1 October 2017. Instead of entering into respectful dialogue to facilitate this referendum, the Spanish Government has instead targeted pro-independence politicians, Catalan Government institutions, printing companies producing material for the referendum, and even newspapers. Spanish prosecutors have also opened a formal investigation into more than 700 Catalan mayors who have backed the referendum.

“Today, in an unprecedented move in recent history, Spanish police raided the offices of Catalan Government including the Departments of Economy; Welfare and Social Affairs; Interior; Foreign Affairs; Telecommunications; and Tax. According to reports Josep Maria Jové, the Secretary General of Economic Affairs and one of the 12 officials detained, was arrested in connection to the launch of web pages related to the referendum.

“These raids and arrests are regressive actions that threaten democracy.

“The people of Catalonia should have the right to democratically decide their own future in a legally binding referendum on 1 October and the Spanish Government should refrain from using these heavy handed tactics in an attempt to stop this democratic vote.”