Belfast Telegraph

Irish urge Spain to lower independence vote tensions after hundreds injured

The Government has urged authorities in Spain to reduce tensions over the controversial independence referendum in Catalonia.

Hundreds of voters were injured when national police moved across the region to stop voting in the poll which was deemed illegal by the Madrid government and the country's top court.

Officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said they were closely following developments.

"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 department said in a statement.

"The reports and images of clashes, violence and injuries are of concern."

It added: " 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."

Spain's security forces used rubber bullets and baton charges as they clashed with voters, leaving more than 750 people injured, according to Catalan health officials.

Catalonia's leader Carles Puigdemont declared the region had won the right to independence in the vote.

He called for Spanish national police reinforcements to leave the region after Sunday's violence, and for international mediation to solve the political deadlock.

Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy indicated that he will discuss the issues with all of the parliamentary political parties and talks are also planned with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

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