As supporters of democracy we must show solidarity with the people of Catalan protesting for their arrested political leaders, says Social Democrats Councillor Owen Hanley.

“The arresting of political opponents by any government in the southern hemisphere would throw them into the basket of ‘banana republic’ and the sort but it seems Spain is getting away with it,” said Councillor Hanley.

“Thousands upon thousands have taken to the streets in Catalonia protesting the arrest of independence leaders, many sentenced to over a decade in prison. There is a clear appetite for self-determination amongst a large section of the Catalan people and to attempt to squash such a debate is undemocratic and unacceptable.”

Councillor Hanley went on to say that: “The EU and other world leaders have hurt their reputation amongst many for failing to stand up for the indivisible rights of the Catalan people to choose their own leaders and their State.

“Ireland has long held the position as a supporter of the right to self-determation of smaller nations. But it seems in recent history our government like many has fallen silent. Catalonia, Tibet, the Kurdish people. This has already been a trend of the 21st century. But as a nation that is all too familiar with our own history we cannot remain silent. We stand firmly against these harsh actions the Spanish government has chosen, after all, there cannot be social democracy without democracy as the foundation.”