Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Ceisteanna (45)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

45. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recently published report by an organisation (details supplied) and its statement that the rule of law should respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; his further views on the report in the context of Catalan political prisoners and their rights on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly following on from the Catalan independent referendum in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52869/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Government follows closely developments in Spain and I am aware of the report to which the question refers.

The freedom to express competing 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.

The rule of law is a cornerstone of all modern democracies and it underpins the functioning of the European Union just as it underpins our own democracy in Ireland. Citizens and their elected representatives should, of course, be free to work to change laws but this must be through the appropriate constitutional channels.

The Government’s position is that the constitutional and political arrangements in Spain are matters to be determined by their own citizens, through their own institutions and in keeping with the rule of law.

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. That is why the Government continues to support a resolution to the current situation that is based on democracy and the rule of law.

We respect to the separation of powers in Spain, as we do in Ireland, and so it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the judicial process involving any individuals there.

The question of independence is deeply divisive in Catalonia. It is important that the voices of all Catalans are fully heard and represented, including those who do not support independence.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 41.