Varadkar says Ireland will not recognise Catalan poll

Government expresses ‘concern’ over violence during independence vote at weekend

People hold Catalan pro-independence  flags as they raise  protest in Barcelona, on Monday. Photograph: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

People hold Catalan pro-independence flags as they raise protest in Barcelona, on Monday. Photograph: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Government will not recognise the outcome of the referendum on Catalan independence.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said he and his Government accepted and respected the Constitution and territorial unity of Spain.

However, he stressed violence is never justified and said the scenes over the weekend left him feeling distressed.

At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt on Sunday after riot police stormed polling stations in a last-minute effort to stop the vote.

Mr Varadkar said history had shown “violence does not work and simply causes further division and radicalisation”.

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was following the events very closely.

“With regard to the political context, it is the Government’s view that it is for Spanish citizens to determine for themselves their preferred constitutional and political arrangements through their own democratic institutions and in keeping with the rule of law.

“The reports and images of clashes, violence and injuries are of concern. There are strong historic ties between the people of Ireland and Spain.

“Upholding the constitution and the rule of law in all its aspects is a key underpinning of a modern democracy.

“It is important now that steps are taken to reduce tensions and to find a way forward together. In this context, we note that the Spanish prime minister has indicated that he will discuss the issues with all of the parliamentary political parties.”

Although millions of Catalans managed to cast their ballots on Sunday, others were forcibly stopped from voting as schools housing ballot boxes were raided by police acting on the orders of the Catalan high court.

The Spanish government defended its response and said the police had been acting to defend the constitution and Spanish democracy.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the violent response sanctioned by the Spanish authorities was heavy-handed and would only inflame the dispute.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the Catalan people deserve the “same respect” as Irish republicans “and their votes should be upheld, the same as it would anywhere else in the world”.