The Malta Independent 30 November 2022, Wednesday
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Fomm ir-Riħ, Mintoff and Rene’ Frendo Randon

Arnold Cassola Thursday, 11 March 2021, 09:37 Last update: about 3 years ago

Rosario Frendo Azzopardi, later Frendo Randon, was a PN candidate in the 1947 and 1950 elections.

He was an advocate by profession and a man of culture at the same time. When the famous Sicilian "verista" writer Luigi Capuana visited Malta in 1910, his father was one of the intellectuals who kept the Sicilian author company during his stay in our country. In token of appreciation, Capuana gifted Frendo Azzopardi (Randon) a copy of his book, Cardello, with the dedication: "A Rosario Frendo Azopardi, perche' apprenda ad amare in questo libro la schietta anima del popolo siciliano, Malta, 21 dicembre 1910, Luigi Capuana". This book is today in my possession.

A court case an ancestor of Rosario was party to, in 1896, the Frendo Azzopardi vs. Bezzina case, led Maltese courts to decree that an "animal-owner or user could be exonerated from responsibility, if it was proved that the damage was the result of irresistible force or of the victim’s fault". In this case, "the injured’s contributory negligence led to him being compensated with only half of the damages he had suffered. This judgement concerned a collision between the defendant’s cart and the plaintiff’s vehicle, which were both being driven by animals. The plaintiff was claiming compensation for the damage he sustained to his physique, to his horse and to his vehicle. Testimonies however proved that the plaintiff had been riding his horse rapidly, when the location of the incident should have discouraged him from doing so" (Grech 2014:115).

This connection to animals was to continue running in the family. Rosario's relationship with animals was quite a deep one. In fact, he was a keen rabbit hunter and therefore spent a lot of his spare time roaming the countryside in order to practise his favourite pastime. He knew every nook and cranny, and all the local inhabitants of the Fomm ir-Riħ area, his preferred hunting zone. Rosario was the notary of most of them, and he must have been invited to all the weddings in the area.

And, whenever he was out rabbit hunting, Rosario would take with him his son Rene', born in 1926 who, as a little child, was not at all a fan of rabbit hunting and instead just went horse riding, roaming the country side. In the process, he fell in love with the flora and fauna to be found in Fomm ir-Riħ, Baħrija, Mtaħleb and with nature in general.

Rene' Frendo Randon became an advocate when he grew up. Amongst other legal assignments he was also the legal representative in Malta for varios individuals and companies.

In the seventies, when the Labour Party  had just been elected to government, the Englishman Frederick Maynard was interested in acquiring property and land in the Fomm ir-Riħ area. At that time, with the prevalent Mintoff anti-British sentiment, it was not always easy for a foreigner to become the full owner of such an extense of land..

Rene’ Frendo Randon, who was a minority shareholder of the proposed transaction and who had a strong sentimental and emotional attachment to the land he had grown up in, also foresaw another grave danger. These were the times when investors like Tumas Fenech were buying large tracts of land in our country. It was the times when Lorry Sant and his merry men ruled the country and when they could change the destiny of a parcel of land with a stroke of the pen.

Whilst wanting to acquire the land for his majority partner, Rene’ wanted to ensure that the right of passage and enjoyment by the whole Maltese population would be maintained. And that is when he went to speak to the man who, in politics, represented the exact opposite of Frendo Randon’s ideals, Dominic Mintoff.

Amazingly, the two political rivals thought with one mind on this issue: the sale could proceeed only if unlimited right of passage to the area and coast were guaranteed to present and future generations.

Rene’ Frendo Randon, the minority shareholder and administrator of the property, was appointed Maynard’s nominee and a public deed was entered into whereby “the owners of Fomm ir-Rih and the Government, which establishes gratuitously as from the date of this deed in favour of the Government, on whose behalf the Commissioner of Lands accepts, a perpetual right and access therefrom to the foreshore and the sea over a divided portion of land situated in the locality of Fomm ir-Rih, in the limits of Mġarr, Malta, known as L-irdum ta’ fomm ir-Riħ”.

It is as clear as crystal. The Irdum ta’ Fomm ir-Riħ is “Tagħna Lkoll”.

A big thank you and God Bless to Frendo Randon and Maynard for their foresight.

Ironically, an equally big thank you to Dominic Mintoff, the man who made me decide to start speaking up against the atrocities concocted during his times, in the seventies.

No problem for me thanking the people who, on this issue, rightfully deserve all our respect for their having thought about our welfare today and that of future Maltese generations. 

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Arnold Cassola is an independent candidate and former Secretary General of the European Green Party 


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