Sunday 19 August 2018

'Many Irish people are concerned for their safety' - Cork TD in Catalonia

Solidarity TD Mick Barry is in Catalonia
Solidarity TD Mick Barry is in Catalonia

An Irish TD who travelled to Barcelona to observe a referendum for Catalonian independence said the Spanish Government should be “ostracised” for its handling of the incident .

At least 337 people have been injured as riot police charged polling stations to thwart voters.

Cork Solidarity TD Mick Barry travelled to Barcelona on Thursday with 33 other politicians from across Europe to observe the vote.

Speaking from the town of Sitges southwest of the city, he said there are "many" Irish people concerned for their safety in Barcelona.

"The silence from the governments of Europe is shocking. The Irish Government cannot and will but be allowed to keep silent on this issue."

The Cork TD said he will argue "vigorously on the floor of the Dáil" to persuade cabinet to act.

"Irish residents (of Barcelona) are saying: whatever you think about independence, people have a right to vote. It's a democratic vote.

"There are many (Irish) people concerned for their safety."

"This has been the most savage repression we've seen in a Western European country in decade," he added.

"This is reminiscent of the Franco era."

He said the Government should be ostracised for its refusal to let the people of Catalonia vote and for the shocking police violence we are witnessing today.

“It’s a hairy situation but it’s the ordinary people of Barcelona who are on the front line.

“If the government in Madrid think they can orchestrate state repression of this kind without a strong response, I think they will be very much mistaken.”

The referendum was declared illegal by Spain's central government but voting got underway from 9am on Sunday.

“I haven’t been an eye witness to the violence,” Deputy Barry added. “There are huge queues at polling stations. The Spanish state police are attacking people outside stations but we’re seeing huge turnout.”

The Cork North-Central TD also claimed a school he visited in North Barcelona had their systems crashed.

He said: “They (the Spanish government) were going to unprecedented attempts to prevent them from voting.

“The Spanish state crashed the computer system in that school. But it’s back up and running and voting is underway.”

“More than 500 people were there [at the school] before polls were due to open. They were there to protect stations from Spanish state police.”

When asked if he thinks the Irish Government should take a stance, he said: "I place no faith in governments on these issues. Instead I believe the real counter-pressure will come from the people of Catalonia.

“There’s a determined mood to vote and to have a democratic say combined with a militant opposition to the shocking actions of the Spanish state police.”

Deputy Barry was travelling back into the heart of Barcelona Sunday and is due back in Ireland tomorrow.

The Catalan region of 7.5 million people has its own language and culture and is an industrial hub with an economy larger than that of Portugal.

Leaders are seeking independence from Spain.

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