Crowd gathers for public protest calling for Speaker’s resignation despite weather

‘This can’t go on any longer’, protest slogan urges resignations, accountability

 

Crowds gathered in front of parliament today to call for the resignation of the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia after he failed to take action against Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar despite a vote in the parliamentary committee on the Standards Commissioner’s report on her behaviour in relation to the man accused of commissioning the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Repubblika, which has already hit the streets once to call for Cutajar’s resignation when the Standards Commissioner had found prima facie evidence that suggested Cutajar had breached ethics rules for brokering a multi-million euro property deal involving Yorgen Fenech, also called for Farrugia’s head. The organisation’s president, Robert Aquilina, described Farrugia as a “shield” for Cutajar.

The main message was to condemn the government for its inability to rein in the kind of impunity that the public inquiry board determined was intrinsically linked with the climate that led to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, referring to several examples in which government officials were not held accountable for wrongdoing.

“In Malta, in parliament, Cutajar found someone to defend her – she found the Speaker, Anglu Farrugia, her own shield. Instead of fulfilling his sworn duties, instead of serving the Maltese and Gozitan people, instead of doing what is right,” Aquilina told the crowd. He also referred to other instances where the Speaker failed to act, such as in the case of Labour MP Carmelo Abela.

“To make things worse, in order to defend Rosianne Cutajar who has just been found guilty by the Standards Commissioner, Anglu Farrugia hired a lawyer in an attempt to silence Matthew Caruana Galizia,” he added, referring to the Speaker’s response to a letter from the son of the assassinated journalist.

“We cannot be in a situation in which parliament is led by someone who sends the message that there are no consequences for wrongdoing, as has happened in Rosianne Cutajar’s case,” Aquilina said.

The Speaker’s actions were also criticised by former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, who had served as Speaker before taking on the role of prime minister when the Nationalist Party was in power.

Gonzi called Speaker Anglu Farrugia’s behaviour “unprecedented” and said the position of the Standards Commissioner has been “ridiculed”.

He was referring to Farrugia engaging lawyer Ian Refalo to respond to Matthew Caruana Galizia’s letter calling for the Speaker’s resignation, only to admonish him. “Since when do Speakers silence individuals with a legal letter?” Gonzi asked.

Lawyer and activist Martina Farrugia also referred to the constitutional judgement which had determined that research and innovation minister Owen Bonnici, then-justice minister, was guilty of breaching protesters’ rights by clearing the makeshift monument erected in Caruana Galizia’s memory in Valletta.

“Not only was Bonnici not censured in parliament, not only is he still there, but they instead gifted him a whole new ministry, after a brief stint as minister of education – perhaps as a way of showing gratitude for all his hard work,” Farrugia quipped.

                           
                               
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