Catalonia declares independence

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Catalonia has declared independence, ahead of an expected attempt by Madrid to invalidate its autonomous powers.

The vote in the regional parliament followed a tense week of last-ditch negotiations between Madrid and Barcelona. Seventy Catalan deputies voted for independence, with 10 opposed and two abstentions.

Rounds of applause broke out in the chamber as members of the parliament hugged and shook hands. Outside, crowds cheered in impromptu celebrations as news of the vote emerged.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, tweeted immediately after the vote calling for calm, but warned the “rule of law” would be restored in Catalonia.

Earlier this month, there were shocking scenes of brutality as militarised police sent by Rajoy attempted to violently suppress the independence referendum, which passed with 90% support.

On Thursday Catalan president Carles Puigdemont had ruled out calling a snap election, citing fears the Madrid authorities would seek to imprison or disbar politicians who supported the referendum, which it had declared illegal. Mr Puigdemont also said he had not received sufficient guarantees that Madrid would hold off on its attempts to take control of the region.

Pressure is now on international governments to formally recognise Catalonia’s independence. In Ireland, neither Taoiseach Leo Varadkar nor President Michael D. Higgins have yet commented on the development.

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