March 9, 2021
“EU has side-lined democratic values on Catalan vote” – Chris MacManus MEP

“EU has side-lined democratic values on Catalan vote” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus criticised the majority of his parliamentary colleagues for voting in favour of removing parliamentary immunity from three Catalan MEP, facing extradition to Spain. MacManus commented: 

“Yesterday’s vote sets a worrying precedent in this institution. The European Parliament has always prided itself as the home of European democracy and a protector of freedom of expression.”

“This facade of democratic pretence is now being rightly called into question after yesterday’s vote. This outcome strikes right at the core of our supposed values in the EU. No one disputes that the charges against the three Catalan MEPs relate to the peaceful holding of a referendum on the independence of Catalonia. Through hugely popular support, these Catalan leaders received their mandate to organise this vote. Importantly, this mandate was recently reconfirmed by the pro-independence bloc’s ability to win the majority of seats in this year’s election.”

“It is therefore clear the objective of the Spanish government is to criminalise those who have peacefully worked to see the will of the people realised. This persecution strikes at the heart of European democracy. “

“In addition to the plain political, rather than criminal, nature of the charges, the request for immunity did not comply with parliamentary rules, nor Belgium’s national rules of procedure, as confirmed by Belgium’s court.”

MacManus acknowledged the significant support the three Catalan MEP received. “I wish to commend the almost three hundred MEPs who refused to add their name to this lifting of immunity consent procedure. It is some consolation to note hundreds of MEPs are unwilling to bow to the immense pressure put upon them, to facilitate this political witch-hunt by the conservative Spanish judiciary.”

The Sinn Féin MEP drew historic parallels to Ireland’s plight.  “A solution to the question of Catalan independence will not be found, while those in favour of independence are continually incarcerated for holding such beliefs. On our own island, a policy of criminalisation was attempted. It achieved nothing in the end, only delaying the creation of a respectful space for political dialogue, which brought a lasting peace on our island and a right to determine our own future through a unity referendum.”

MacManus concluded, “Sinn Féin defends the right of nations to choose their own destiny through democratic means.” ENDS

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