'Violence is never the solution,' Taoiseach warns authorities
The Spanish government needs to realise that violence against its citizens leads to further disunity "before anybody gets seriously injured or killed", Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
Responding to the violent scenes in the Catalonia region over the weekend, Mr Varadkar said his Government does not accept the legitimacy of the independence referendum.
"The Irish Government respects the constitution of Spain and the territorial unity of Spain," Mr Varadkar said.
"But I'd also like to say that violence is never justified.
"We know from history all over the world that when state actors, state police and the army use violence against civilians - that doesn't work.
"It causes further division, further disunity and also causes radicalisation."
He said less than half of the population of Catalonia participated in the vote "although admittedly it wasn't easy for people to participate".
Mr Varadkar said Spain was a "friend and ally" but "violence is never the solution".
"I was distressed to see the scenes on television last night," the Taoiseach said.
"To see this was happening in a European country.
"We know from history all over the world that when governments use violence against unarmed civilians it doesn't work. It leads to radicalisation, it leads to further disunity, and I sincerely hope the Spanish government will bear that in mind before anybody gets seriously injured or killed."
Despite Mr Varadkar's statement, Junior Minister John Halligan (left) has asked the Taoiseach to call in the Spanish ambassador and "formally condemn the force used by the country's National Police and Civil Guard during Catalonia's unofficial independence vote".
He said that the Irish Government must "convey its horror at voters in any democracy being dragged from polling stations".