Why Europe must raise its voice in support of Carme Forcadell
In my work as Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson I regularly meet with Catalan political parties and Catalan Government officials. Sinn Féin is very clear about Catalan independence- Catalans have a right to self-determination and they should be allowed to decide their future through a democratic referendum.
Despite being familiar with ongoing political issues in Catalonia and the roadmap to independence, and have to admit I was shocked when I heard of the pending prosecution of Ms Carme Forcadell by the Spanish authorities.
I have always been struck with how democratic and people centred the Catalan independence movement is. So to hear that the Speaker of the Parliament of Catalonia has been summoned to appear before the High Court made me sit up and take notice. I was appalled to then find out that she is to be prosecuted for allegedly violating Spanish law by allowing a Parliamentary debate and vote on altering the Spanish constitution, in relation to Catalan independence.
Every politician and citizen who cherishes democracy should be concerned that the Spanish Government are attempting to remove and fine the Speaker of a Parliament for facilitating a debate in an elected chamber. For me this is an attack on democracy and sets a dangerous precedent that Europe, and the rest of the world, cannot ignore.
The prosecution of the Speaker of a democratic legislative body for facilitating a debate on such an important, and clearly popular issue, puts at risk the very basic democratic standards that people hold dear throughout the world.
In my opinion the Spanish Government, even at this late stage, should stop and carefully reconsider the pending prosecution of Ms. Forcadell.
The Spanish Government needs to adopt a new approach in order to resolve its disagreements with the Catalan Parliament, including on the issue of an independence referendum. This should be based on a process of mutual dialogue and respect. They cannot arbitrarily stifle, ignore, ban, or dismiss the democratic demands of a people who are seeking alternative structures outside the current Spanish State.
The pending prosecution of Ms Forcadell is wrong and these proceedings should stop.
If it continues and she is prosecuted I will be calling on the Irish Government to raise its voice against such an attack on democracy from an EU Member State.
The Irish Parliamentarian Charles Stewart Parnell famously said: “No man has the right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation. No man has the right to say to his country: Thus far shalt thou go and no further.”
The Spanish Government is trying to do just that through its prosecution of Ms. Forcadell.
Seán Crowe TD - Dublin South West
Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade, the EU and the Diaspora