The Malta Independent 17 November 2018, Saturday

Godfrey Farrugia, Franco Mercieca resign; 'not a clean bill of health' - Busuttil

Malta Independent Saturday, 29 March 2014, 10:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia has handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning. Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly Franco Mercieca has also resigned.

The government is still to announce the resignations publicly. No release has been received by the Department of Information. It is possible that a Cabinet reshuffle that was scheduled for next week will be announced this afternoon or tomorrow.

In comments to this portal, Dr Farrugia said thanked The Malta Independent in the name of all those patients that he worked for. He declined further comment.

The resignation comes in the wake of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle due to the nomination of Marie Louise Coleiro Preca as President of the Republic. Dr Farrugia had been touted as her replacement as Social Policy Minister a position which, it is clear, Dr Farrugia did not want to accept.

In a letter he gave the PM this morning, Dr Farrugia specifically thanked Dr Muscat for offering him the post of Social Policy Minister to replace the outgoing Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, but said he was declining the offer and resigned.

The letter also states that, apart from the social policy ministry, Dr Farrugia was also offered “another ministry” which is not specified, but which was also rejected by Dr Farrugia.

Dr Farrugia said that when he was offered the Health Ministry he had accepted because he saw it as an opportunity to give his services to patients, an ambition that he said he always had as a doctor.

He said he is convinced that in the past year he and his colleagues had strengthened the sector. He said he was not giving back the portfolio to the Prime Minister, seeing that he (Dr Muscat) thought it fit to ask it back. 

Dr Farrugia handed in his resignation to the Prime Minister this morning and then made the letter public by sending it to the media.

Afterwards, his partner Marlene Farrugia, who is also a Labour MP, uploaded the letter on Facebook. Marlene Farrugia has been quite vociferous in her criticism of the government while at the same time defending her partner from all attacks levelled at him.

In a tweet, Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil said that Dr Farrugia's resignation is "not a clean bill of health for Muscat's one-year-olg government."

Alternattiva Demokratika deputy chairperson Carmel Cacopardo described Farrugia as a “decent and humble person who was ready to listen and did not allow power to get to his head.”

“Godfrey Farrugia is the victim of Labour’s empty promises before the election, in which it promised heaven on earth in the health sector.”

Asked for his reaction, the president of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses Paul Pace would not comment on the resignation but said that one must now look forward. We await the appointment of the new minister and hope that we will have an open dialogue in the best interests of the people working in the health sector and the patients, Mr Pace said.

Dr Mercieca has also resigned from the post of parliamentary secretary, but this resignation comes less of a surpise because it had been reported weeks ago that he wanted to return to his profession as an ophthalmologist.

He is still serving as parliamentary secretary but will relinquish the post once the Cabinet reshuffle is announced.

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