Catalans in Ireland to protest against referendum violence
‘It is so humiliating... to see your neighbours, friends and compatriots being beaten like dogs’
Spanish police officers drag a man as they try to disperse voters arriving to a polling station in Barcelona on October 1st. Photograph: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty
Members of the Catalan community in Ireland will gather at City Hall on Monday evening to protest against the violence that has accompanied the referendum on independence in the country.
The group will be present at the invitation of the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Mícheál Mac Donncha, who wrote to the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy last week protesting against a decision to summon 712 Catalan mayors to court for facilitating the referendum.
He wrote: “I firmly believe that backing a purely democratic exercise desired by 80 per cent of Catalans should never be a reason to prosecute elected politicians. Democratic demands should always be dealt with within the framework of democratic values and political dialogue, not with threats and court cases against citizens of public authorities.”
Dublin-based Catalan native Joan Pau Perez said Cllr Mac Donncha’s intervention had garnered a lot of press coverage in the Spanish media.
Mr Perez returned home to Barcelona to vote in the election.
“I am in favour in independence, but all we wanted was the right to vote,” he said.
“That vote could be relevant or irrelevant, legal or illegal. I don’t understand how a democracy can stop the people from voting. Is that what you call a democracy in Europe?”
Dani Orta, who has been living in Ireland for 17 years, said not every Catalan in Ireland was a supporter of independence, but all were dismayed at the violence of the Spanish state.
There are two separate community organisations for Catalans in Ireland. One is the Casal Català d’Irlanda, which promotes Catalan culture. It is non-political.
The other is the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) - Irlanda, which is a pro-independence organisation.
“I was hoping for a great day, but it was so sad to see what was happening. The police went through people,” he said.
“The U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday reminds me of similarities between one society and the other. We feel some brotherhood with the Irish. We are in the same situation you were in.”
Dublin-based human rights lawyer Albert Llussà also returned home to Catalonia to vote.
An emotional Mr Llussà told Morning Ireland the violence had been “horrendous”.
As a Catalan, he said, the referendum went to the heart of his identity.
“It is so humiliating that in today’s date in the 21st century, you should see your neighbours, friends and compatriots being beaten like dogs with an unnecessary use of force,” he said.
“For what? For dropping a ballot into a ballot box. A referendum is not an illegal act. It is not a crime under Spanish law. Many Catalans just want to be acknowledged in the way that we identify ourself.”
The demonstration takes place at City Hall at 5pm.