Mark Cutajar, one of two licensed deckchair operators at Comino’s Blue Lagoon and the brother of Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar, served as a canvasser for Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri during the 2022 general elections.
Following The Shift’s report exposing the fact that Cutajar, alongside Joseph Portelli associate Daniel Refalo, run an effective duopoly on deckchairs and umbrellas on Comino’s iconic beach, further investigation confirmed the link between Camilleri and Cutajar.
The management of Comino falls under the remit of the Gozo minister.
Pictured above with a jubilant grin and a red sweater with ‘Clint Camilleri’ emblazoned on it, Cutajar’s political activism on behalf of the minister may explain why the Gozo ministry completely cut off reporters seeking answers as to what the authorities will be doing about the situation at the Blue Lagoon.
On 13 June, two days after Moviment Graffitti activists cleared out all deckchairs and umbrellas from Blue Lagoon following years of inaction from the authorities, Lovin Malta published an article quoting Camilleri’s spokesperson saying that the minister has nothing to add.
On the same day, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo promised to take a minor step towards freeing up the sandy part of Blue Lagoon without committing to an immediate implementation of a holistic master plan for the area, in spite of the fact that Comino technically falls under the remit of the Gozo ministry.
While Cutajar seems to have hedged his bets on Camilleri, Refalo’s link with controversial developer Joseph Portelli, has also been brought into sharp focus. The latest controversial development is the approval of an Outside Development Zone pool deck extension to a seven-floor block on the edge of Marsalforn Valley.
The approval, which was granted in defiance of two recommendations for refusal and, more generally, the spirit of the Planning Authority’s own regulations, faced objections from multiple NGOs and individual conservationists alike.
The decision to approve Portelli’s project was so out-of-line that even stalwart Labour supporters spoke against it.
Emanuel Cuschieri and Jason Micallef, formerly head of ONE News and now chairman of Valletta Cultural Agency, both spoke along similar lines, arguing that the decision to approve the permit is a mark of shame on their own government.
On Tuesday, the Nationalist Party, through its spokespersons Rebekah Cilia and Robert Arrigo, called on the government to ensure Blue Lagoon is accessible to everyone and not just those who have been ‘protected by government’.