From top: Protest in Catalonia; Tony Groves

The little girl was not impressed. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but I knew she was annoyed. Why wouldn’t she be, no one likes to be the impromptu party piece at a party you don’t want to be at.

Her parents, and her uncle, were cajoling her. Her father explained to me that she had just returned from two weeks in London and that she had really good English. The girl’s face was half pride, half outrage.

“Talk to our guests” said her mother. Finally, and not with a little defiance, she stepped forward; a tiny little thing, all brown hair and big brown eyes.

“Hello”, I said, with a big eejit grin on my face, thinking that might de-escalate the situation. She didn’t reply. Her parents commanded her “Talk!”

“I know one sentence in English” she said, almost tentatively. Everyone went quiet, a mix of relief and interest. A room of about ten adults turned to watch the little girl. She looked me straight in the eye and seemed to grow about six inches.

“Catalunya Is Not Spain”, she declared.

That was nearly 15 years ago and I couldn’t help thinking of that trip to L’Escala yesterday as I watched the scenes unfold on the streets of the city that I love and think of as my second home.

I have made many friends in the region of Catalunya over the last two decades. Many of them have different views on the secessionist question. All of them agreed that they had the right to vote and express those views.

The Spanish Constitution deemed them criminals. Prime Minister Rajoy hid behind lawyers and legalese. Our leaders, here in Ireland and across the EU, fell silent.

We have a Taoiseach who comments on LCD Soundsystem, but not on the violent suppression of the democratic will of a nascent nation. The EU has limped from the financial crisis, to force feeding austerity, to Brexit and now to looking the other way when stuff, that we criticise Middle Eastern dictators for, happens on the streets of one of the great cities of our Union.

Yesterday, whatever your views, shames us all.

Catalonia has many justifiable reasons to be aggrieved, culturally and economically. Their symbol, in the land of the Bull (Torro), is that of of the Ass (Catalan Donkey). Their sense of oppression is both historic and contemporary.

I am not in favour of Catalonia seceding from Spain, much to the chagrin of my friends. But I fully support their right to decide. Yesterday, friends of mine tried 3 times to vote. They did so eventually, defiantly. I cannot say how many were dissuaded by the brutal acts of police violence.

A friend of mine, who felt fearful of posting some of the images that she was witnessing, WhatsApp’d me throughout the day. I posted many of these to twitter. Some of them have gone across the world; one has been viewed 500k times from my tweet alone.

People saw what happened on the 1st of October 2017. My friend did that.

Another group of friends stood in front of a voting station until the early hours of the morning, afraid that if they left, the police would take the ballot boxes and the votes cast by those who braved the gauntlet would be lost to an Authoritarian Crackdown.

Another story came back to me as well, yesterday. When my Catalan friends were in Dublin a few years back, we all drove up to Glendalough for a day’s hiking. In typical fashion, they were freezing, wrapped in jackets and scarves, while I was basking shorts and a t-shirt. The glorious Irish summer.

As we climbed towards the Poulanass Waterfall we heard a group of Spanish people making their way down. The familiar buzz of voices, a backing track to so many Dublin Bus journeys in the summer months.

As the groups met a few words were politely exchanged. My understanding, a bit better by then, was that pleasantries were exchanged and generalities mentioned. Then, among the Spanish group, a young man asked “Madridista?” – a blunt inquiry as to if you are from Madrid?

“No”, came the reply. “I am a Catalan.” The groups went quiet. The young Spanish man (instinctively?) spat on the ground and we all walked off our separate ways.

I am a Catalan; the very same reply went back to the Madridistas yesterday. It was proclaimed from Figueres down to Tortosa. There’s no putting this toothpaste back in the tube. Madrid can pretend it didn’t happen. But the world saw. On the 1st of October 2017, the world heard the same thing Pablo Casals told the UN in October, 1971, “I am a Catalan”.

And I’m proud to be their friend.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly aTrickstersworld

Yesterday: Autonomy

80 thoughts on “I Am A Catalan

  1. bisted

    …I saw many of your tweets yesterday…shocking…it seems the revolution will be televised after all…

  2. MKG985

    It’s lunchtime on Monday, must be time for a moany tony rant…

    Wait, this one isn’t half bad! Half-ish

  3. Happy Molloy

    Christ Almighty, I saw the title, saw the content and hoped that it wasn’t going to be dragged back to Leo, but it was…

    1. Brother Barnabas

      Is it not a fair point that a comment on what happened yesterday from an Irish perspective makes reference to our government’s response / non-response?

      Am I going to have to start telling you to shut up again, Harry?

      1. snowey

        why should our government say anything? it’s not their business
        it’s a Spanish (in the broad sense) did the Spanish government nag us over the north for 30years etc…

        I’m not being heartless the scenes are shocking but an official irish government comment is just commenting for the sake of it.

      2. b

        it seems a pretty unfair/untrue comment about LCD/Leo, no?

        as far as i’m aware he hasn’t made an issue of the LCD nothingness, but has commented about catalunya today

      3. Happy Molloy

        A response seems to have been issued since your comment. I’d rather a considered response delivered after a day of watching and understanding and being aware of and having analysed the factors, as opposed to an ill thought out reactionary tweet. We have Trump for that.

        But my comment was more in relation to the fact that I knew what would be in the piece before reading it, I’d hate to see a commenter as pleasant as Tony become predictable or typical, like Mulally for example.

    2. MKG985

      Is that all you got from that piece, Harry?
      Maybe you should get out more. See the world. I hear Barcelona is nice…

      1. rotide

        What else was there to get?

        Events at the weekend were terrible. Many Catalonians desire independance. None of this is new information, regardless of the personal nature of the retelling.

        Literally the only point the author is making that isn’t self-evident is the point about Varadkar. Of course he doesn’t mention a single other leader of an EU country, but thats alright because his axe needs grinding.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Your obsession with trolling Tony’s essays is just sad. How have you not been banned yet?

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          “thats alright because his axe needs grinding.”

          You troll all of his essays with your nasty minded bullying and you accuse HIM of having an axe to grind? Seriously Bodger, how has this troll not been banned?

          1. Milo

            You troll all of his comments with your nasty minded bullying and you accuse HIM of having an axe to grind? Seriously Bodger, how has this troll not been banned?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            I don’t even know what that means but I’m sure it was funny to you. Yellow card? Because I like football or something? Ok then.

          3. rotide

            Im sure if you put a modicum of that giant intellect of yours to work, you can figure it out.

            Hint, it’s what cheating divers do when they want to get another player sent off.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            “that giant intellect of yours”

            Thanks, mate. My giant intellect was right about that being a football reference then. That was really terrible. When you’re trying to mock me, I’m supposed to feel mocked.

        3. ahjayzis

          Because Varadkar’s hypocrisy is rank. The legislature that elected him has it’s origins in an illegal hijacking of an election and had no constitutional basis in UK law.

          We don’t apologise for that, neither should the Catalans. When your ‘mother-country’, be it the UK or Spain gives you no legal or constitutional avenues, this happens. See the Scottish separatism debate for how it’s supposed to be handled in a 21st century western democracy.

  4. MoyestWithExcitement

    It’s amazing that we see emotional reactionaries like Calmps and Rotide, who aren’t even from Catalonia or Spain, insist people must bow down to authority. Authority made a right mess of things yesterday. I reckon this could inspire a *lot* of change across Europe. Racists and definitely-not-racist neoliberals still have 19th century views of the world. They think police brutality only happens in ‘less civilised’ countries. Seeing that happen in a ‘first world’ country is going to affect the perception and thinking of so many people.

    1. rotide

      “It’s amazing that we see emotional reactionaries like Calmps and Rotide, who aren’t even from Catalonia or Spain, insist people must bow down to authority.”

      If you could point out where i insisted people should do that, you would have. But you can’t because I haven’t you sad little troll.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Poor rotide tries to bring me down to his level. Trolls like rotide are to be pitied as well as laughed at.

        1. rotide

          You should brag about how people use your name when you haven’t been around again. That really boosts your sincere poster credentials.

          1. Tony Groves

            Look Moyest, it’s simple. Rotide is right, this is an exceptional piece, written in a fair and balanced way by an author of some serious talent.
            3 cheers for Rotide!!!

        2. painkiller

          Jesus Christ man, you are the biggest troll on – I assume you are logging in from Portlaoise Prison.

  5. Murtles

    I don’t think anyone could honestly say they weren’t shocked at the scenes of a national police force raining baton blows down their own citizens who had their arms raised. Also kicking people down stairs is not the police acting with “firmness and serenity” that Mariano Rajoy kept spouting in his press releases. The story has been a bit lost under the equally shocking Las Vegas incident but certainly can’t be brushed under the carpet.

    1. Clampers Outside

      Author trolls and then asks for the other trolls to stop…. why Tony…

      Your Leo comment was ridiculous trolling, and factually wrong, as I’m sure you are aware.

      The rest of the piece was good, and brought in relevant personal comment.
      Good luck to them all, that you’ve spoken of.

        1. rotide

          Who doesn’t love the smooth tones of Kristen Bell’s voice washing over you after a hard day?

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            What are you doing, Tony? Being friendly? You’re supposed to be apologetic and grateful to these shut-ins for their expert advice.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            I choose not validate racists by pretending their drivel is any sort of rational thought process. Racists and bigots and, indeed, any sort of bully needs to be pilloried at every opportunity. While I have you Harold, do you think we Westerners should be trying to civilise white people in America what with all their wanton violence? You said it was our place to civilise Arabs so I assume you have the same thoughts about the Yanks because only a racist would suggest that the brown country with violence needs civilising and the white country with violence does not. You’re not a racist hypocrite are you, Harold?

  6. Plyskeen

    Sigh. A “Madridista” is not used for somebody from Madrid (that’s a “Madrileño”), but for somebody who is a supporter of the Real Madrid football club (as opposed of Barca, which most Catalans support, quite obviously). About the rest of the article.. well, I’m afraid that the author is about as clueless about the whole situation as he seems to be about that anecdote, really.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Actually Madrileno is a slang term that is often used as a pejorative. How embarrassing for you, especially after you were trying to accuse someone *else* of being clueless.

      1. Plyskeen

        Eh, what? No: You can easily check it in the Diccionario de Real Academia Española ( ). Madrileño is the standard “gentilicio” for people (or things, such as the “Cocido madrileño”) from Madrid:
        I can guarantee you that “Madrileño” isn’t pejorative at all – it would be equivalent to call somebody from Barcelona a “Barcelonés”. Or a Dubliner a Dubliner…

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          “I can guarantee you that “Madrileño” isn’t pejorative at all”

          I can guarantee you that it is, as I said, often used as a pejorative. Interesting link. Doesn’t prove that the term isn’t slang but interesting link.

          1. Plyskeen

            Eh, no. You obviously don’t know the Spanish language very well (…that link is that of the institution that provides the official dictionary for the Spanish language, the Real Academia Española; if you weren’t aware of it, you are certainly neither a native nor an advanced student).

            Just to get an idea about how ridiculous this conversation is: If “Madrileño” was in any shape or form pejorative, why on Earth would the local TV from Madrid, which caters to people from Madrid, produce this TV program titled “Madrileños por el Mundo” (People from Madrid around the world), where people from Madrid very proudly talk about their lives in places such as… Dublin?

            This is the problem with the Internet nowadays and my main issue with the original article – too many attention seeking people online contributing to the noise and blocking out the signal.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            This is the problem with people like you. You think you know it all because you read something on the internet. You evidently have never set foot in Spain. Madridelino is often used as a pejorative. That is just a fact. If you’d ever actually been in that country for more than a booze cruise, you’d know that.

  7. Ted

    I way prefer Moyest when he uses his other username, Anaccountant. I can just picture him carefully counting out the jellybeans and using Broadsheet to vent his fustration when he loses track. Jaysus . His responses are now almost robotic, such is the lack of debate or appreciation of the nuance of language. Tony is just desperate for some Rotide loving.Can you just him out of his misery and plant a big fat smacker on his gob…. or you could go all Fifty Shades and just gag him.

    1. mildred st. meadowlark

      I like you. You cut straight to the heart of the matter.

      May I subscribe to your newsletter?

          1. mildred st. meadowlark

            I have a wonderful ability to tightwalk the two…

            No sense of balance mind. When I do fall, it won’t be pretty.

  8. Clampers Outside

    The city’s mayor, whose offices are a stone’s throw from the market, is also well aware of just how polarising the independence debate can be.

    Jordi Ballart, a member of the Catalan Socialist party (PSC), which opposes the referendum, declined to be interviewed. His Facebook page, however, details the abuse he has suffered over his opposition to the vote.

    “They’ve called me a quisling, a turncoat, a sellout, a coward, a wimp and a traitor … They’ve told me … I’m a bad Catalan, a moron, that I’m despicable, a piece of shit and a disgusting faggot – among many other things,” he wrote.

    Núria Marín, the PSC mayor of Catalonia’s second most populous city, L’Hospitalet, is reported to have complained to Puigdemont about the pressure being brought to bear on her colleagues by some in the independence movement.

    “I told him what a lot of people are thinking,” she told El País last week. “It hasn’t happened to me but a lot of my colleagues are having a rough time. Putting mayors in the crosshairs won’t fix anything; it’ll just add fuel to the fire.”

  9. painkiller

    Is Moyest the biggest troll on Again, I can only assume he (yes, I assumed gender) is logging in from Portlaoise Prison.

    1. mkg985

      You are usually smart b

      Any secessionist referendum is illegal under Spanish law. Luckily, in democracies, constitutions change. Spain hide behind it. So Moany Tony is right. Na-na-na-na-na!

  10. ahjayzis

    Our country was founded on the back of an illegal referendum – the 1918 UK general election.

    Leo will be leading the commemorations of that election and the first Dail next year I assume. Wonder how he’s planning to balance the founding of the country he leads with concerns over the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

    He would have been better off saying nothing.

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