Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has criticized today’s European Commission statement on Catalonia that failed to condemn the heavy handed actions of the Spanish police who brutalised citizens who were trying to exercise their vote in yesterday’s independence referendum.

Deputy Seán Crowe TD said:

“Yesterday the world witnessed shocking scenes of police brutality in various parts of Catalonia. Peaceful citizens who were protecting the integrity of polling stations were struck down and savagely beaten.  Reports are suggesting that 893 people have been injured.

“Children and adults were beating off the streets and fired upon. This is unacceptable in any society. The disturbing images of frail elderly citizens being assaulted by heavily armed Spanish police will be impossible to forget.

“Yesterday also presented us with the alarming introduction of lethal plastic bullets against peaceful citizens. In Ireland we know only too well the potential lethal damage that plastic bullets can have on a human body. They were associated with the maiming, blinding and killing of Irish citizens, including children. Plastic bullets are not crowd controllers, but killers, and they should not be used anywhere.”

Crowe continued:

“Today the European Commission belatedly released an appalling and out of touch statement on yesterday’s events in Catalonia. Instead of standing up for democracy and criticizing the obvious heavy handed police response, it went off in a different direction and condemned divisiveness and fragmentation. It also backed the repressive Spanish Government response to this democratic referendum.

“These non-elected bureaucrats also bizarrely took the opportunity to suggest that if an independence referendum was legalized by the Spanish Government, and Catalonia voted to leave, that it would find itself outside the European Union. While this statement is highly questionable, it was also not the time and or place to pontificate on this issue, considering that some voters are lying on hospital beds or nursing their wounds and bruises.

“The Catalan Government has called on the European Commission to encourage international mediation and this is a shameful response.

“The Irish Government also stayed silent during yesterday’s brutality and released a short and meaningless statement today in face of the attacks on democracy and peaceful voters that we witnessed in Catalonia. I believe the Irish Government’s stance is wrong and I will be attempting to raise this issue in the Dáil tomorrow.”