The Malta Independent 19 January 2020, Sunday

Watch: ‘RIPN’ comment was ‘tongue in cheek’ – Fearne

Albert Galea Thursday, 2 January 2020, 11:17 Last update: about 16 days ago

Deputy Prime Minister and Labour leadership hopeful Chris Fearne described his “RIPN” comment as being “tongue in cheek” when speaking to journalists on Thursday.

Fearne had attracted ire after, while speaking to a crowd at a leadership activity in Paola some days ago, he vowed that the Nationalist Party would not return to government for as long as he lives and that “when I die, they can write on my tombstone that the PN were never elected. Instead of RIP, they can write RIPN", with many describing the Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks as being inappropriate and divisive.

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Asked by journalists about his remark and why he made it while there have been many calls, including by himself, for national unity, Fearne said that the remark was “tongue in cheek”, and that one of the first priorities of the new Prime Minister will in fact be to unite the country and address those in society who are hurt.

He mentioned that he would immediately call a conference on the rule of law which would include representatives of the Opposition, of civil society, and of enforcement authorities with the intention of strengthening the country’s institutions and healing those in society who feel that they have been hurt.

Fearne also noted that if he is elected by the Labour Party, he would also be the party’s leader and would see that the party is strong and organised so that when the next general election comes in 2022, the party will be in a position to win again.

Asked whether he was ready to apologise for the remarks, Fearne said that he understands that he must be the Prime Minister for everyone if elected and that people need not be offended at the remark as it was tongue in cheek.

Pushed, Fearne said that if there are people who feel offended and want an apology, then he would apologise.

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