Sinn Féin’s National Chairperson, Declan Kearney MLA, and former President, Gerry Adams, held an online meeting with imprisoned Catalan representatives, Oriol Junqueras, President of ‘Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya’ (ERC), and Raul Romeva, the former Foreign Minister of the Catalan government. Both are currently serving prison sentences of 13 years and 12 years respectively in Lledoners prison, Catalonia.
Also in attendance was Marta Rovira, the ERC General Secretary, who is currently exiled in Switzerland, and Jordi Solé, ERC’s Secretary for International Affairs.
During the meeting the Catalan representatives outlined the current political situation in Catalonia following the brutal measures deployed by the Spanish Government in response to the independence referendum held in October 2017. In particular, they focused on the refusal of the Spanish Government to meaningfully engage with Catalan representatives to resolve the continuing political crisis, and its widespread use of repressive legal measures.
Speaking after the online meeting Sinn Féin’s South Antrim MLA, Declan Kearney said:
“Both Gerry Adams and I were pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this online prison visit. We received a first-hand account of the current political situation in Catalonia from the leadership of the ERC and expressed Sinn Féin’s ongoing solidarity with all of the political prisoners, those leadership figures still in exile, and the right of the Catalan people to independence.
“It was heartening to speak with the imprisoned leaders, Oriol Junqueras and Raul Romeva. Despite being unjustly incarcerated due to oppressive Spanish government policies, both were in extremely high spirits and remain totally committed to the national and democratic rights of their people.
“We outlined Sinn Féin’s position – based on our experience in Ireland – that state repression will only breed political resistance. Criminalisation policies did not work in Ireland, and they will not work in Catalonia. A political resolution must be developed through an inclusive negotiation process.
“We reiterated our support for the release of all political prisoners and for those who are exiled to be allowed to return home. Sinn Féin fully supports the Amnesty Bill being proposed by Catalan Independent representatives.
“We urge the Spanish Government to commence good faith negotiations with the democratically elected political leadership of Catalonia to resolve all critical issues at the heart of the current political crisis.
“Sinn Féin remains committed to using our political influence in Ireland and across Europe to highlight the political crisis in Catalonia and to press for the release and amnesty of all the political prisoners, including the return of all those in exile.
“We will continue to encourage political and diplomatic pressure on the Spanish government to embrace an inclusive process of comprehensive negotiations and acknowledge the national and democratic rights of the Catalan people.”