EU Silence over Spanish assault on democracy “unacceptable”

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on the EU to begin sanctions against Spain following their brutal and violent repression of the Catalonian independence referendum.

The Ireland South MEP was speaking as images and reports from Catalonia showed people being savagely attacked by paramilitary Spanish police while trying to exercise their democratic rights.

 “The dramatic footage of paramilitary police attacking polling stations, baton charging peaceful protestors and firing plastic bullets into crowds are deeply concerning to all who believe in democracy,” she said.

“The United Nations states that under its Charter ‘all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.’

“The EU states that it is founded upon the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights, and under Article 7 of the Treaty of European Union, allows for sanctions to be brought against a member-state that is violation of these principles.

“The European Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantees the freedom of expression, assembly and association. All institutions or the EU have an obligation to ensure that they hear rights are vindicated, and infringement proceedings can be brought by the European Union against a member-state that acts against these rights.

“If this were happening in another part of the world the EU would roundly and rightly condemn it in the strongest possible terms.  The fact it is happening within the EU means we have a responsibility to act. 

“The European Union was set up so that Europe could avoid the scenes we have seen today. If the Parliament and Commission stay silent on Spain’s violent repression of democracy then there is no point in this institution existing.

“I am calling on the European Commission to immediately initiate proceeding against Spain, and on the Irish Government to raise the matter at European Council level.”