Ahead of the first sitting of the new European Parliament Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe, has called on the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, to ensure that the political rights of Catalan MEPs are protected. His comments come after the Spanish government’s latest attempts to violate the rights of Catalan MEPs and disregard the democratic mandate they received from over 2 million EU citizens.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The former President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, the former Vice-President, Oriol Junqueras, and the former Minister for Health, Antoni Comín, were democratically elected as Members of the European Parliament by Catalan voters on 26 May 2019.

“Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comín are living in forced exile in Belgium, while Oriol Junqueras is currently imprisoned in Madrid on political motivated charges. They are being prosecuted by the Spanish government for their alleged involvement in organising a democratic referendum on Catalan independence, which they were mandated to do by Catalan voters.

“Last month a Spanish court rejected Oriol Junqueras’ petition to leave jail and begin the process of fulfilling his democratic mandate and becoming a MEP. Despite not being convicted of any crime he remains in prison on pre-trial detention for over 600 days and he will not be able to attend the first session of the new European Parliament tomorrow, 2 July.

“The Spanish authorities are also attempting to block Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comín from fulfilling their democratic mandates and attending tomorrow’s first sitting. The Spanish government are demanding that they first return to Spain and swear an oath of allegiance to the constitution in the Spanish Parliament. If they return to Spain they will be imprisoned on similar politically motivated charges.

“The Spanish government’s last ditch attempt to ban these MEPs from taking their seats is a clear violation of their political rights and a disregard for the over 2 million EU citizens that voted for them.

“There is now a possibility that the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, will block Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comín’s entry to the Parliament tomorrow at the request of the Spanish authorities. This would be unprecedented, wrong, and completely undemocratic.

“I am calling on the European Parliament President to ensure that the political rights of these three MEPs are safeguarded and to ensure that they are allowed to fully participate in tomorrow’s inaugural sitting.”