The European Union has failed Catalonia, says NI exile

A police officer aims a baton against would-be voters near a polling station in Barcelona last Sunday
A police officer aims a baton against would-be voters near a polling station in Barcelona last Sunday

The European Union has failed the people of Catalonia during the current political crisis, a Belfast exile has claimed.

The former civil servant, who now lives and works in a city close to the border with Spain, said his adopted homeland is “under siege” from the thousands of Spanish police officers while the EU “turns a blind eye”.

Video footage of police using force in an effort to block voting in Catalonia’s independence referendum – a poll deemed illegal by Spain’s constitutional court – has led to widespread criticism of the central government in Madrid.

Catalan emergency officials reported that more than 700 people were injured while taking part in peaceful protests last Sunday in support of independence.

In the regional capital Barcelona, police were filmed using batons and firing rubber bullets during the protests.

“If the EU doesn’t stop this in the next week, they won’t be able to,” he said.

The 60-year-old grew up in Whiteabbey but moved to Catalonia more than a decade ago. He does not wish to be named for fear of reprisals from Spanish authorities but is known to the News Letter.

He said: “All over Spain there are crowds of people with their (Spanish) flags cheering the van loads of police heading to Catalonia. They are not coming as police – they are coming as an invading army.

“I am putting up on my Facebook page, videos of the Spanish police chanting at the people, violently waving flags and shouting ‘viva Espana’. These are political police sent here by Madrid – they have lost the plot.”

He added: “If this isn’t against the rules of the European Union then what is? There is no point in being in the European Union. They are not looking after our civil rights, or any rights, they are looking after the EU. They are looking after business – they are not looking after the people. They are not upholding their own rules. They are turning a blind eye.

“If [the Spanish government] had let the Catalan people have a vote on independence the vote probably would have been lost, narrowly, but now I think it’s likely that Catalans would vote for independence, maybe 55% to 45%.”