Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has raised the disturbing situation in Catalonia in the Dáil with Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Yesterday we saw some extremely disturbing events unfold in Catalonia, when the Spanish Guardia Civil raided the headquarters of the Catalan Government, arresting 14 high ranking civil servants and public officers, and entered into the offices of at least one major political party.

“In the past few days’ armed police have visited newspapers’ offices, shut down websites, and raided storage warehouses and printing centres, seizing voting boxes, ballots and political posters. More than 700 Catalan Mayors who support the referendum have been threatened with judicial prosecution.

“This is unprecedented in recent history and completely unacceptable. When elected officials are detained for political reasons and ballot boxes for a popular and democratic referendum are seized, we must speak out.

“When newspapers are threatened and democracy is denied, surely we have to say stop, enough is enough. I called on the Minister to join me in speaking out against these worrying developments, but sadly she refused to do so.

“These raids and arrests have triggered massive demonstrations, all of which were peaceful, and which saw tens of thousands of Catalans demand the most basic of rights – the right to vote in a democratic referendum.

“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.”