Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg has been issued an enforcement notice by the Office of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner to reveal the numerous direct orders and tenders she dished out for the ongoing EuroPride, which is believed to have cost at least €2.5 million.
EuroPride is a European event to celebrate the LGBT community and is hosted by a different European city each year. Cities are usually chosen based on whether they have an established pride event and a significant LGBT community. It takes place between 7-17 September with a range of events, including concerts, marches, art and photography exhibitions, talks and an awards ceremony.
The Shift asked Buttigieg to provide a breakdown of procurement processes to organise the event but was refused, with Buttigieg stating only that a total of €574,000 had been paid last month on deposits.
The secretary will now have 20 days to provide the information on how and where public funds were spent.
Last month, The Shift reported how party organisers were complaining about the government using public funds to curry favour with friends and companies close to the Labour Party when dishing out funding for EuroPride events.
A particular company called Greaat, owned by Anton Attard, the brother-in-law of PN stalwart Beppe Fenech Adami, and his partner, former MZPN President Mark Grech, was reportedly given the most significant slice of the estimated €2.5 million expenditure when tasked with organising a number of the events.
Grech is also a business partner of Luke Dalli, the son of EU Commissioner Helena Dalli, in another event organising company. The EU Commissioner, unheard of since she was posted to Brussels except for making headlines for blunders she committed, was given “a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her vision and determination to lead the equality agenda”.
An exercise in self-praise
While Labour has a track record of using grand-scale events and civil-rights issues to boost its own profile, both Dalli and Buttigieg grabbed the opportunity to turn EuroPride into a partisan affair to raise their profile.
Many activists who attended EuroPride commented on social media on how the Labour Party used these activities for partisan propaganda, with many events resembling more of a Prime Minister Robert Abela mass rally than a celebration of equality.
One attendee described the event to The Shift: “This Pride seems like the Labour Party’s pride. Tonight, through MVintage, they gave an award to Helena Dalli, showing a video of her election where Joseph Muscat was also present. It bothered me so much that I left.”
Dalli was given the Equality portfolio in the European Commission, which has no effective political power and no Directorate General.
The parliamentary secretary, Rebecca Buttigieg, is a political newcomer who made it to parliament through the gender mechanism. While achieving nothing of note, she made the most of the opportunity for publicity that such an event creates, giving comments and interviews to the press to boost her profile.