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Leo Varadkar: Republic will not recognise Catalan vote

Catalan independence supporters march during a demonstration in Barcelona. Picture by Felipe Dana, Associated Press

THE Republic will not recognise the result from the referendum held in Catalonia at the weekend, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said the state respects the territorial unity of Spain - a "friend and ally" of Ireland - adding that he was "distressed" by the scenes of violence.

Riot police were seen firing rubber bullets in order to disperse crowds.

More than 80 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt on Sunday after riot officers stormed polling stations in a last-minute effort to stop the independence referendum that was banned by Spain's government.

The unofficial vote saw overwhelming support for an independent Catalonia.

The Taoiseach told reporters in Dublin yesterday that history had shown "violence does not work and simply causes further division and radicalisation".

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was following the events very closely.

"With regard to the political context, it is the Government’s view that it is for Spanish citizens to determine for themselves their preferred constitutional and political arrangements through their own democratic institutions and in keeping with the rule of law," the statement read.

"The reports and images of clashes, violence and injuries are of concern. There are strong historic ties between the people of Ireland and Spain.

"Upholding the constitution and the rule of law in all its aspects is a key underpinning of a modern democracy.

"It is important now that steps are taken to reduce tensions and to find a way forward together. In this context, we note that the Spanish prime minister has indicated that he will discuss the issues with all of the parliamentary political parties."

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson yesterday praised those who voted in the referendum.

"There is now an onus on the international community, and the EU in particular, to stand by the Catalan people, recognise their democratic vote and the outcome of the referendum," she said.

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