Catalan funds in firing line in independence referendum row

Catalonia's regional government plans to hold a vote on independence on October 1

Catalonia's regional government plans to hold a vote on independence on October 1

More than 700 mayors from Catalonia met Saturday in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pressure from Spain's central government not to hold an independence referendum for the northeastern region.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who has reached an agreement with the Catalan regional government to allow voting in the city, criticised Madrid's response to the crisis in a short speech in the city hall.

Along with hundreds of flag-waving protesters in downtown Barcelona, the mayors gave speeches in which they promised continued support for the referendum.

Earlier, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended legislation passed in the Catalan parliament which paved the way for the vote. Organizing the referendum will be almost impossible without the cooperation of local municipalities.

"We will not be intimidated".

Organisers said 35,000 people rallied in the northern city of Bilbao - a symbolic protest in a region still marked by decades of violence once waged by armed separatist group ETA, and where the desire for independence remains strong.

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Local officials say the person who died early Tuesday had a do-not-resuscitate order and was taken directly to a funeral home. But they didn't anticipate they would still have to fight the intense heat with fans and portable air conditioner units.

Ms Hyslop said: "The decision over Catalonia's future direction is a matter for the people who live there, and the Catalan and Spanish Governments are perfectly entitled to take positions for and against independence". It is unclear what arrangement was reached.

"The majority of the members of the Catalan parliament are in favor of independence".

On Saturday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to block the vote.

"The only thing I ask of (Catalan) mayors is that they comply with the law, and as such don't participate in an illegal referendum", Rajoy said.

Catalonia's top court on Friday issued a warning to seven newspapers not to publish campaign notices for the referendum, a court spokesperson said.

Catalonia's regional government insists it will take place as scheduled despite a growing clampdown by the Spanish state, the report added. Since July, Madrid has demanded weekly spending reports in an attempt to prevent public money being used for the referendum.

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