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To read the independent legal opinion on special status for the north within the EU, commissioned by GUE/NGL and written by Doughty Street Chambers, click HERE

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has condemned the arrests of prominent Catalan independence campaigners. 

Martina Anderson said: 

“The arrests of prominent Catalan independence referendum activists Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart was wrong and must be condemned. 

“The world saw the oppression carried out by the Spanish police during the voting on the referendum and this is yet another attack on the democratic process and a further attempt to silence the will of the people. 

“These activists should be released immediately and all charges dropped against others who were simply standing up for their democratic rights. 

“The international community have a role to play in standing up for the interests of the Catalan people, condemning these arrests and ensuring the result of the referendum is respected.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said all-Ireland bodies must be protected from Brexit. 

Martina Anderson said: 

“I met today with Ruth Taillon from the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh alongside my party colleague Cathal Boylan MLA to discuss the impact of the Tory Brexit agenda on all-Ireland bodies. 

“There is deep concern among those involved in cross-border bodies about Brexit. 

“This follows the remarks from EU Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that substantial work is needed on all-Ireland bodies in the Brexit negotiations. 

“In education in particular the Standing Conference of Teacher Education, north and south (SCoTENS) are concerned about difficulties in funding after as the Department of Education has yet to approve funding going forward. 

“Following today’s meeting I have now written to the British government’s Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, outlining the need to protect cross-border education co-operation and all other all-Ireland bodies.”

For the latest edition of the monthly newsletter from Martina Anderson MEP outlining the latest developments in the Brexit negotiations and the campaign for special status, click here

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the human rights of prisoners must be respected. 

Speaking during a debate on prisoners rights in the European Parliament, Martina Anderson said: 

“As someone who spent more than 13 years in jail as a political prisoner I have a interest in ensuring that prisoners rights are respected and upheld. 

“Irish republicans spent thousands of years in prison as a result of the conflict, often in terrible conditions. Many were ill-treated and tortured and in 1981 Bobby Sands and nine comrades died on hunger strike for political status. 

“The Good Friday Agreement saw the release of political prisoners to advance the peace process. 

“But even today we have the case of Derry man Tony Taylor who continues to be detained by the British government without a trial and should be released immediately. 

“And internationally, Palestine political prisoners still face injustice and unlawful detention while Basque prisoners are incarcerated hundreds of miles from their loved ones as a result of unfair dispersal policies. 

“Prison systems must show that human rights are upheld consistently and should never be used as a weapon against prisoners.” 

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has staged a protest in the European Parliament today against the brutality used by the Spanish police during Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia. 

Martina Anderson said: 

“Today in the chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, I and other MEPs from across Europe staged a protest against the brutality used by the Spanish police against people exercising their democratic rights in Catalonia. 

“We held pictures of those injured by Spanish police batons and rubber bullets – including elderly men and women – simply for daring to take part in a democratic referendum on their future. 

“I witnessed at first hand the actions of the Spanish police and it was reminiscent of the actions of the RUC in the worst days of the conflict here. 

“We were also protesting at the lack of action and condemnation from the EU and the wider international community about what happened on the streets of Barcelona on Sunday. 

“The EU have a responsibility to stand up for democratic rights and to protect citizens. It is now up to the international community to respect the outcome of the referendum in Catalonia and ensure scenes like we witnessed on Sunday are not repeated.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the passing of a joint resolution on Brexit in the European Parliament and said it was an indication of the growing support for special status for the north within the EU.  

Speaking following a debate on a joint resolution on Brexit in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Martina Anderson said: 

“It is crucially important that we protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts during the Brexit negotiations and I welcome today’s vote in the European Parliament reaffirming the commitment to the Agreement. 

“It is a clear indication of the growing support for special status for the north within the EU across Europe. 

“Protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts includes the part where the consent of the people of Ireland – north and south – is required to alter the constitutional position of the north.

“It also means being in the single market and the customs union.

“This can be achieved through the north of Ireland staying in the EU or Irish unity, as is provisioned for in the Good Friday Agreement.  Otherwise, we are not upholding the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.

“This resolution is also balanced with regard to citizens rights and is an important step forward in recognising that the needs of the north of Ireland are different to those of Britain.

“It also means that the refusal of the British government to bring forward proposals to ensure there is no EU frontier across Ireland and to safeguard the Good Friday and other Agreements means there is no basis to progress onto dealing with the issue of trade.  

“I would like to welcome the commitment from Guy Verhofstadt to exploring how to give legal protection to the Good Friday Agreement in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has praised the determination and resolve of the Catalan people for their actions in the face of repression during yesterday’s referendum. 

Martina Anderson said: 

“No one could have failed to have been impressed by the determination, defiance and dignity of the Catalan people during yesterday’s referendum despite the repression they faced at the hands of the Spanish authorities. 

“Young and old went to the polls to attempt to express their democratic rights, with some queuing for hours to do so despite repeated obstacles being placed in their way. 

“In doing so they faced attacks, brutality and repression from the Spanish police in scenes that have no place in a modern democracy. But the Catalan people remained dignified and resolved that they would not be denied their fundamental democratic right. 

“Their commitment to democracy was witnessed around the world on social media, as were the shameful actions of the Spanish authorities who tried to attack the very principle of democracy. 

“In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the actions of the Catalan firefighters who lived up to their stated aim of protecting communities when they formed human shields around voters who were simply trying to have their voice heard. 

“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. 

“The EU must also challenge the use of violence against people attempting to express their democratic rights.”