Catalan Bid For Independence In Line With The Rights Of Nations

The Thomas Ashe Society Omagh backs the Catalan call for Independence.   

Following Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia, passed by overwhelming majority but whose legitimacy is being contested by Spain, the Thomas Ashe Society Omagh extend our full support to the Catalan people as they continue their march towards nationhood. Through their dignified actions, including the non-violent response to the Spanish state and its shameful aggression, the Catalans have won their rightful place among the nations of the world.

The events in Catalonia are a reminder of our own situation in Ireland, where we likewise seek to determine our own affairs – a right denied us by the British state and its continuing occupation of the Six Counties.

The British Government’s sovereign claim here denies the fundamental right of our people to national self-determination. It is in breach of the internationally accepted right of nations to self-determine and, as such, should be withdrawn, allowing all of the Irish people – together as one unit – to determine their own future and the Ireland they wish to live in.

Catalonia and Ireland, as all nations and peoples, have a shared right to peace, democracy and ultimately to freedom. We look forward to the day, yet to come, where we both of us enter into the great commonwealth of nations, standing together as free peoples before the world.

To echo The 1916 Proclamation, it remains our right, shared with the Catalans, to unfettered control of our nation and its destinies, a right held by that same Proclamation to be sovereign and indefeasible. In both Catalonia and Ireland, it remains the case.


  1. The violence in support of the EU objectives in Spain is the logical progression from ignoring voters wishes (Lisbon Treaty), removing members sovereign control of their economic budgets (Greece,Ireland), formenting civil war in prospective members (Ukraine,Nuland-Pyatt & Ashton-Paet leaked calls). And just as Britain and America are condemned when one of their allies perpetrates violence on their people, EU supporters should be held to the same standard.

  2. The repressive responses from Madrid will most likely not have achieved what they intended. In all likelihood they will have served only to consolidate and strengthen further the Catalan desire to secede.

    I find it somewhat confusing that the Thomas Ashe Society takes the position it does. To my mind the actions taken by the Catalans form a closer parallel to the Unionist position than to that of Irish republicans. I remember Ruairí Ó Brádaigh recounting discussions he had with the Loyalists in the early to mid-seventies where they said that though they saw merit in Éire Nua it would always be secondary to their preference for UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) in the event of British withdrawal.

    Nationalism, particularly where it leads to fragmentation and divisiveness, has little positive to offer in a largely more interconnected global economy.

  3. It's good to see the Societies backing partition.

  4. HJ, you must be trying to troll. Im not an expert on Catalonian Independence movements, but I cannot imagine many others observing the parrallels between British and Spanish methods of suppression (even down to language acts),inspection of the traditions which have been/are being suppressed and concluding that the Unionist position parrallels the Catalans. Whose democratic aspirations are being targetted with rubber bullets?

    The content of aspirations is not a good gauge either, it is why the thought of a Royal Price firing expensive artillery at dirt poor farmers in a foreign dirt poor country , in service of democracy, causes one to raise a quizical eyebrow.

  5. Pater/Henry Joy,

    I doubt the Catalans are making any argument for partition or the Societies backing same.

    As I understand it they view their relationship with Spain as one of external domination. They even have their own language. They are secessionists rather than partitionists. They don't wish to partition Spain but to withdraw from Spain which they do not see themselves as being part of. If Scotland were to withdraw from the UK would we regard the UK as being partitioned? I wouldn't.

    Watching the Spanish police left me feeling the fascism of the Franco era still had strong roots in the minds of the security apparatuses.

  6. AM
    The question is whether Catalunya was ever a country. It started life as a vassal province of the Franks and was then subsumed into the Kingdom of Aragon before going back under French control before returning to the Spanish. It is widely accepted in Spain that it never was an independent country. The independent movement was driven for most of the recent years by a right wing nationalist alliance, the CiU. The main Catalan socialist party, the PSC, is a unionist party. It is funny to see the Societies backing a largely right wing nationalist movement and the partition of Spain.

    The Spanish govt sent 2 police forces into Catalunya last weekend because they couldn't trust the Catalan police, the Mossos, to close the polling stations. The first was the National Police, I've seen them plenty of times at the Atletico games cracking skulls. They are a nasty lot. The other one was the Guardia Civil who were Franco's paramilitaries and who were not disbanded after the Transition following Franco's death. The Civil Guards are notoriously right wing and were behind the attempted facist coup in Madrid in 1982. Given the profiles of the two police forces I'm surprised there was not more violence.

    I currently work with many people from Madrid and Barça and have listened to both sides of the argument this week. The situation is extremely complicated and tense. Many Catalan nationalists want Catalunya to be recognised as a state but not to secede from Spain, the violence of last weekend may have changed that.

  7. Peter,

    all countries have been formed rather than being natural entities. There is no timeless nation despite the literature of romantic nationalism.

    Does Catalonia have the right to secede and self determine?

    In my view, yes.

    Does Spain have the right to thwart Catalonia?

    In my view, no.

    I don't know if it is a strong argument to say that it is widely accepted in Spain that Catalonia is not an independent country. John Cleese once said that British troops must be prepared to die to keep China British. Aggressor states never recognise the autonomy of the places they seek to dominate.

    Pointless condemning the Societies backing something you characterise as right wing - the Societies are a broad church who, if I am right, prioritise national independence rather than the form independence might take.

  8. AM, Dáithí

    as other perspectives your position are valid too. I'm not particularly attached to one on this overall save but to observe that I fear that once emotions become inflamed a long and intractable conflict may follow. All parties need to remain cognisant of Spain's painful history. Its only a couple of generations away from a bitter civil war that led to 500,000 deaths and a forty year dictatorship. People may make whatever moral equivocations they choose yet I wonder as to the usefulness and wisdom of a push for independence at this time.

    Political actors, wherever they may be and in whatever guise they take, ideally need to act maturely and responsibly.

  9. Henry Joy,

    I very much resile from the notion of obligatory nationalism. And that applies to the nationalisms of Spain or Catalonia. But it has long been pointed out that nationalism is Janus faced. It can be progressive or reactionary. I think Spanish nationalism is much more reactionary than Catalonian. The most disturbing scene for me from Catalonia was not the police beatings but their expressions of Spanish nationalism when they were confined to their hotel. I saw echoes of Franco in that.

    In any event I think the pull of history has been in the direction of greater integrations rather than fragmentation. The challenge I think is to make that integration more democratic rather than fragment it. This is why I think Brexit is such a disaster.

    Despite all the myths of nationalism, nations are political constructs not timeless entities.

  10. HJ try this perspective: I choose to blame the entirety of Spains current problems on the legacy of colonialism. (From when it used to be called Al Andalus).

  11. Peter,

    What do your colleagues from Barcelona say about funding of an independent Catalonia? I always follow the money.


    Do you honestly think that brexit will be anything other than a fudge?

  12. AM
    Spain was formed by the marriage of Isabel and Ferdinand, thus unifying Castile and Aragon. Catalunya was a part of Aragon not an independent country so belongs to the Spanish crown. This is widely accepted in Spain. According to their constitution a nationwide referendum is required to partition Spain, that's why the police tried to stop the vote. It is nothing like the situation in Scotland, except that it is proving extremely divisive. There is a large quantity of fervent pro-spanish people especially in the Barcelona province. What if there is a majority for independence but not in Barcelona province? Should they be allowed to stay with Spain? I find constituitional law a minefield and so during my time living in and working with Spain I have stayed firmly neutral on the Catalan question!!!!

    Of the dozen or so Catalans I speak with on a daily basis none want full independence. About half are unionists and the rest want the same deal the Basques got i.e. full recognition and full control of tax. There is a real fear that full independence would see them bordered by a hostile Spain and outside the EU, while the big corporations would move to Madrid. I guess the independentists don't care.

  13. AM,

    you're spot on ... nationalism, like almost everything else in life, is Janus faced. Moves against the trend of integration, in my opinion, are foolhardy and reckless whether that be from Irish, Northern Irish, Scottish, English, Catalan or Spanish nationalists.

  14. Peter,

    if Catalonia predated the existence of Spain, then it seems that Catalonia has a stronger claim to exist as an independent entity than Spain has to a claim over it. It has many of the attributes of a nation. What is widely accepted in Spain is immaterial to the ethics of the claim for Catalonian independence. It is widely accepted in Britain that the British state did not engage in state terrorism or torture in Ireland. That acceptance in no way reflects what actually happened on the ground. Just as it was widely accepted that Britain had some right to run India.

    If there is a majority for independence in Catalonia but not Barcelona then Barcelona should be part of the nation of Catalonia. Derry never wished to be part of the UK but was compelled to be.

    That said, I am not a nationalist in any real sense of the term: I would prefer to be ruled by Corbyn than Varadker. Whatever causes least harm for the largest mass of people is the best option.

  15. AM
    Can you not talk about these things without shoehorning in the "bad bwits" or NI?

    Derry is a city; Barcelona a province. Hypothetically, should the province be alllowed to stay with Spain?
    There are three large positions in Catalunya: independence, more autonomy and no change with around equal numbers in each camp. Nationalism is poisoning the region something which the article above doesn't mention. The Societies are grandstanding with their pompous pronouncements without informing or giving any idea of the big picture or complexities. Oh and they also shoehorn in a wee mention of the Proclamation Zzzzzz

  16. Pater,

    why should we avert our gaze away from what is in front of our eyes? It is how we test our positions for consistency.

    Derry is a county although it was the city I had in mind. But what difference does it make - city or province if the principle is what is being discussed?

    Nationalism may be poisoning the region but why is it Catalonian nationalism and not Spanish nationalism? The most frightening display of nationalism I witnessed was that from the Spanish police.

    The Proclamation means something to the Societies and if they see parallels, fine. They might find it strange that somebody from the unionist community can readily side with Spain given its history of right wing Catholic religiosity.

  17. Peter,
    Out of all the people I speak to daily 99% are Unionist and 99% are Remainers.....but that doesn't reflect what is reality!

  18. AM
    I did not specify Spanish nationalism, they are both poisoning the well. I am not siding with Spain, I said above that I am neutral on the question of Catalunya and that constitutional law is a minefield that I choose to stay out of. As a member of the International Brigades Memorial Trust I could hardly be said to be a fan of Spanish right wing religiosity. The Societies, like many this week on social media, are grandstanding on an issue they haven't a scooby doo about.

  19. Peter,

    I don't think you are a fan, just that people will find it strange that you appear to be more sympathetic to the Spanish position despite the history of the Spanish.

  20. AM
    Here's the thing, the Basque and Catalan independence movements are both driven by right wing nationalists, having the biggest blocs in their regional assemblies. While they clash with the PP in Madrid over regional affairs they back them on reactionary national policies. PSOE, the Spanish socialist party, are unionists. My sympathy lies with them in as much as I take any interest in Spainish politics. The array of left-right, separatist-unionist, national-regional alliance shenanigans is bewildering. For the Societies to weigh in with such a grandiose statement is pretty pathetic. They are backing right wing nationalism and partition.

  21. Niall
    And what? Steve was asking about my experience, I only speak to corporate types so no surprise that none are independentists. At no point did I say they were representative so your comment is stupid.

  22. Peter,

    I have no appetite for backing right wing nationalism, whether thru Brexit or anything else. I just think the moral case for independence is stronger than the case for denying it. Today's pro-Spanish demo in Barcelona indicates that there is no walkover victory for the separatists.

    My attitude towards the PSOE is shaped largely by their Dirty War against ETA. That they could complain about the fascists beggars belief.

  23. Thanks Peter...appreciate that intelligent response.

  24. The Mirror received a special request to publish this letter to an agent in the Guardia Civil and to King Felipe VI