Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has expressed his solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners as their trial in Madrid begins today.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Today seven Catalan politicians and two civil society activists go on trial in Madrid on politically motivated charges. Those on trial include the former Vice-President of Catalonia, former Ministers, and the former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament.

“I have written to the nine Catalan political prisoners and expressed my solidarity and that of my colleagues in Sinn Féin.

“The two civil society leaders have been held in preventive detention awaiting trial since 16 October 2017. The former Vice-President of Catalonia and the former Interior Minister have been held in preventive detention awaiting trial since 2nd November 2017. The other four former Catalan Ministers and the Speaker have been held in preventive detention awaiting trial since 23 March 2018.

“They have all been accused of the crimes of sedition and rebellion, which potentially carry prison sentences of up to thirty years, over their alleged roles in the 1 October 2017 Catalan independence referendum. To have organised or supported a referendum on self-determination, in line with the democratic mandate given to them by the Catalan people is in my opinion not a crime.

“Like many others, I have been appalled at the approach and provocative actions of the Spanish authorities. This is a political issue, not a legal one, and it should be solved outside the arena of courts.

“The democratic solution would be for the Spanish Government to enter into meaningful dialogue with the Catalan Government to find a political solution to their legitimate demands. It also needs to stop using the police and the legal system to attack the Catalan independence movement, which is a legitimate political demand.”