The Government follows developments in Spain closely. I am aware of the verdict of the Spanish Supreme Court to which the question refers, as well as of reactions to the decision across Catalonia and the rest of Spain.
I maintain contact with my Spanish counterpart on a range of issues, including the situation in Catalonia. We respect the importance of the principle of the separation of powers in Spain, as in Ireland, and so it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the judicial process there beyond noting that the issues considered by the Spanish Supreme Court were legal and constitutional issues.
More generally, with regard to Catalonia, the Government’s position remains that the constitutional and political arrangements in Spain are matters to be determined by their own citizens, through their own institutions, in keeping with the rule of law. Ireland respects the constitutional and territorial unity of Spain.
The freedom to express contesting views is essential in any democracy, but differences of opinion must be contested with full respect for the law and the rights of all citizens. This is the foundation that underpins and protects modern democratic societies.
The balance between the freedom to demonstrate and the need for law and order must be protected so that people can go about their normal lives.
Tensions are clearly high in Catalonia at present and the question of independence is deeply divisive there. It is important that the voices of all Catalans are fully heard and represented, including those who do not support independence.
Citizens also deserve to have the certainty that the rule of law extends to them and protects them. That is why we continue to support a resolution to the current situation that is based on democracy and the rule of law.