In the Dáil today Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, raised the arrests of 12 Basque lawyers with the Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy.

Crowe called on the Minister to use his influence to express concern about the arrests and negative impact this will inevitably have on the fledgling Basque Peace Process.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Last week’s arrest of 16 individuals, including 12 lawyers representing Basque political prisoners, added a new element to the continued refusal of the Spanish state to engage constructively in a Basque peace process.

“The arrests, which came just days after a huge demonstration in Bilbao where more than 80,000 people took to the streets to support the rights of political prisoners, are clearly designed to be provocative and have all the hallmarks of a securocrat agenda that opposes the Basque Peace Process.

“Lawyers engaged in sensitive or politically motivated cases must be allowed to carry out their work without state interference, intimidation, or the fear of possible arrest.

“Given the history of the peace process in the North, I called for the Irish Government  to appeal to the Spanish Government to put aside its own party political difficulties to promote and support a meaningful process of dialogue in order to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Basque Country.

“While the Minister confirmed the Government’s support for any moves towards a peace process, he sadly didn’t signal the Government’s willingness to engage with the Spanish Government on this issue or call for the release of the lawyers.

“I will continue to raise this issue with the Irish Government in an effort to try ensure that they play a more pro-active role in bringing about a sustainable peace process in the Basque Country with the involvement of the Spanish Government.”