Gozitans unite with AD to safeguard Gozo

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Ramla-Protest.jpgSpeaking at a protest meeting in Ramla l-Hamra, addressing a crowd of over 200 Gozitans and many Maltese and ex-pats who have invested in Gozo, Alternattiva Demokratika Chairperson Dr Harry Vassallo said that the issue of a permit for the constructions of tens of villas on the clay slopes below Calypso’s Cave was an environmental and planning blasphemy which cannot be tolerated.

Dr. Vassallo supported statements made by Ramblers president Lino Bugeja who addressed the meeting and said that if this permit was allowed to proceed it was hard to imagine what other planning outrage could be prevented.

Dr Vassallo said that “If anyone imagined that the issue of the permit was the end of the affair he was seriously mistaken. This is the beginning of the beginning. As we did for the Ta’ Cenc and Xaghra l-Hamra issue we are committed to support the residents in their fight for their basic human rights. As registered objectors, we will appeal before the Mepa Appeals Board, we will take the matter to our domestic courts and before every enforcement agency in the EU. We are already in touch with DG Environment which is fully aware of the situation” Dr Vassallo said.

He added that “This is another case where Mepa granted a permit when it should have dismissed the application in the first place. This is another example where Mepa is showing weakness with the strong and strength with the weak. It must be remembered that enforcement through the demolition of illegal structures was held in abeyance for decades. This is an insolent slap in the face to anyone who depends on the rule of law to protect him or her from the powerful and the unscrupulous.”

Dr Vassallo said “that this insolence shows that people in power do not recognize the profound political change that is taking place in the country. At every major violation we witness the coming together of local councils with NGOs, civil society and church organizations. Alliances are being formed regardless of traditional political party alliances.”

Dr Vassallo said that in 18 years of political activity he had never been exclusive and had remained open to cooperation on single issues and specific topics. However in this instance he could not help stating that whoever was not with him was against him. “Whoever is against us on this is in favour of corruption. Whoever opposes us is in favour of the defeat of the law and of citizens rights; whoever is against us today wants to cheat future generations of their right to inherit this splendid place in the way we have known it.”, Dr Vassallo said.

Dr. Vassallo added that Alternattiva Demokratika will not compromise with those who abuse their legal authority to permit that which they are duty bound to prevent. We will pursue this matter until those responsible will be held personally liable for all the damage they may cause. They are not authorized by law to defeat the law and have acted beyond their powers. They can no longer claim immunity for the consequences of their actions. This is an electoral promise which citizens can only fully achieve by voting Alternattiva Demokratika in parliament” Dr Vassallo said

He added “Nobody in the country imagines that any such development application would have been filed or would have been countenanced by the authorities let alone issued with a permit if the Minister of Environment was a Green. If the Minister’s name was Harry Vassallo, Arnold Cassola, Victor Galea, Mario Mallia, Stephen Cachia, Ralph Cassar or any other AD official instead of George Pullicino we all know that such things would never happen.”

“Alternattiva Demokratika will be standing for election in every electoral district and will seek the support of all Maltese and Gozitans to ensure that the country will stop wasting time and tax-payer’s money in fighting illegalities and abuse of authority, but work to ensure a better and sustainable future.”

Profs Arnold Cassola also addressed the meeting and said “During the meeting between The Maltese Greens and the Green Italian Minister Alfonso Pecoararo Scanio this morning, the suggestion was made that Gozo could best exploit its resources providing employment for all Gozitans. This can be achieved if it followed the examples of some Italian islands and became what is technically known as an ‘ecological island’. AD’s proposes to have Gozo set itself a target to provide cheaper and cleaner energy to its residents and to utilize the 35,000 vacant properties for hospitality purposes would create a new and long-lasting attraction to visitors and create new jobs for Gozitans in Gozo.” Professor Cassola informed that the Italian Government is actively trying to convince the Maltese Government to implement such a strategy and is considering various forms of assistance.

The mayor of Xaghra Mr. Cordina said that his council is unanimously opposed to this massive development.

AD Secretary General Victor Galea thanked the Xaghra local council for its presence at the protest and its unanimous support. “Even though the Xaghra Local Council is made up of Nationalists and Labour councilors,
today they set an example by putting the national interest before partisan pique.”

Victor Galea thanked the Ramblers Association, Friends of the Earth, Graffitti, Moviment Harsien Hondoq and all other representatives from other organizations who are giving their support. He promised that an appeal would be filed against the issue of the permit and that the legal battle would be fought in every available forum by every legitimate means. “Those who wish to participate are invited to donate money to the Ramla fund which will be reserved specifically for that purpose” Mr Galea said.

The meeting was also addressed by the Qala Councillor Mr Paul Buttigieg saying that “Moviment Harsien Hondoq is supporting this battle and expects the same support in their fight to save Hondoq ir-Rummien from private greed.”

Closing the protest, the AD secretary general Victor Galea announced that a National Protest specifically in Gozo is being planned for the near future.

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