THE Irish Government will not recognise the result of the Catalan independence referendum in Spain, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
Mr Varadkar condemned the violence seen in the region in recent days after police clashed with voters, but said he would “respect” the Spanish Government’s position.
He clarified that his government will not recognise the result of the referendum, despite 90 per cent of voters balloting in favour of Catalonia leaving Spain over the weekend.
"No we won't – as I said, we accept and respect the laws of Spain, the constitution of Spain and the territorial unity of Spain,” he said.
“It is a referendum it would appear less than half of the population participated in, although admittedly it wasn't easy for people to participate – but that is a separate issue.
“We respect, of course, the laws and constitution of Spain, which is a friend and ally of ours.”
Catalonian officials say that of the 2.2 million voters who were able to cast ballots in the banned referendum, two million voted for independence.
Regional president Carles Puigdemont said Catalonia had "won the right to become an independent state", adding he would declare independence unilaterally if separatists win more than 50 per cent of the vote.
"Violence is never justified" says Taoiseach, but government won't recognise Catalan independence vote pic.twitter.com/3Mtq1aJbnv
— Sean Defoe (@SeanDefoe) October 2, 2017
However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claimed that no independence referendum had taken place and that voters had been "fooled" into participating in a vote declared illegal by Spain's constitutional court.
There were violent scenes at the weekend as security forces dispatched from Madrid blocked polling stations and confiscated ballot boxes at polling stations throughout Catalonia.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it is closely following the ongoing developments in the region.
In a statement, the Department said: "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 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.”