SPAIN yesterday continued its onslaught against institutions in Catalonia by sacking two senior officials – the general director of foreign relations, Marina Falcó and Agustí Colomines. director of public school administration.

The Madrid government used Article 155, under which it imposed direct rule on the state following the October referendum, to fire the pair, saying their situation was “incompatible with the position they are holding”.

Falcó’s dismissal came after deposed and exiled Catalan culture minister, Lluís Puig, took part in an event marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of writer Manuel de Pedrolo at the Catalan government delegation in Brussels, where he gave a short address.

The Spanish-controlled Catalan delegation said Puig was not invited to the public event, and the Spanish foreign affairs ministry said it would take measures to respond to what it called an “unpleasant incident”. Puig is currently fighting extradition from Belgium and Spain considers him a fugitive.

Colomines, a close ally of deposed president Carles Puigdemont, said his dismissal indicated Spain was going after “the small ones, now that they could not get the big prey”.

He told Catalan television: “The metropolis is in charge. They are 600km away and they have no idea about how the administration works. If we had had a government, this would not have happened.”

Members of a new group of MEPs – the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform – yesterday attacked European Union institutions for their “unacceptable silence” over the Catalan crisis.

Former Slovenian foreign affairs minister and liberal MEP, Ivo Vajgl, the group spokesperson, said in Barcelona: “It’s shocking that so few people are ready to speak out.

“Democracy is all about understanding each other, speaking to each other, finding the way of compromise.”

Italian MEP Eleonora Florenza added: “I’m sorry for this silence. It’s a shame what has happened in Europe.”

More than 30 MEPs from a dozen member states have joined the group and want Europe to help find a political solution to the crisis.

“I’m making no difference between those that are pro-independence and those who are against. I’m ready to discuss with everybody and listen to their arguments,” said Vajgl.

He went on to condemn the incarceration of Catalan politicians and civic leaders, describing it as “outrageous and absurd to put elected members of parliament in jail under such circumstances”.

Speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, meanwhile, looked ahead to the festival of Sant Jordi (St George) – Catalonia’s patron saint – on Monday, saying people should not forget “our cultural heritage and those who cannot be with us to celebrate”.

Speaking outside parliament, he referred to the nine figures from the deposed Catalan government, parliament and grassroots organisations, who are all in jail without trial. Seven are abroad facing extradition from Scotland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

Torrent said: “This will be a different Sant Jordi. We have people far from home, in prison and in exile, and the 155 prevents us from forming the government. Neither the institutional and political abnormality, nor the injustice suffered by those deprived of their freedom should see us give up the cheer, smile, and freedom of the Sant Jordi celebrations.”