THE political silence over the ongoing situation in Catalonia is breathtaking.Within the corridors of power at the EU institutions, we have heard very little, if anything at all, said about the future of Catalonia.

As I took my place as one of Scotland’s representatives at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels last week, I was absolutely staggered to discover that Catalonia wasn’t on the agenda. Worse still, it was very deliberately kept off the agenda because all but one of the political groupings there did not want it discussed.

Catalonia is one of the biggest regions in Europe and the situation there is of global significance. Depending on the outcome of elections in Catalonia in the coming weeks, we could well see a further drive towards confirmation of Catalonia as an independent state or we could see Spain regain overall control over the devolved assembly.

As MSP for Angus North and Mearns, my direct responsibility lies with my constituents. I then have a responsibility to best represent the people of Scotland when it comes to matters of national importance.

It is not my place, or the place of any other non-Spanish or non-Catalan politicians, to tell the people of Catalonia how their country should be governed going forward.

But as a human being and someone who does have a voice on a national political platform, and a European platform in CoR, I do feel it is my job and my responsibility to call out the acts of brutality we witnessed from sections of the Spanish police in Catalonia.

The use of rubber bullets, tear gas and attacks on both members of emergency services and ordinary people has no place in Europe. Neither does the imprisonment of politicians because of the views they hold.

I spoke out about these attacks in October as the CoR debated Catalonia. There were a variety of opinions expressed that day.

Since then, however, no actions have been taken as a result of that debate and politicians and governments across Europe have gone to ground on this matter.

There was no action taken forward through the European Parliament to express the views held by members of the CoR and the EU has not condemned the violence in Catalonia.

In fact, throughout the corridors of Brussels, Catalonia has become the elephant in the room.

My appearance at the CoR last week was only my second as a new member but it’s extremely frustrating to see an issue of such huge importance being completely ignored. If we aren’t going to debate matters of major importance to the regions of Europe at a committee that is specifically set up to be representative of European regions then what IS the point? What are we so afraid to discuss?

I took the opportunity to speak out on Catalonia during a debate on EU citizens rights post-Brexit because I, for one, will not be silent. I could tell from the muted applause at the end of my speech that my words were not widely welcomed within the room.

Perhaps that’s not surprising given that Catalan representation within the CoR has been removed since October. It has, effectively, been silenced. That is why all other nations have a duty to speak up on their behalf.

In Scotland, in the UK and in Europe we are supposed to live in democracies which champion freedom of speech. The second we deny someone the right to freedom of speech is the moment we have to question whether or not we actually do live in a democracy.