The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Days of healing and reckoning

Claudette Buttigieg Friday, 30 July 2021, 07:15 Last update: about 3 months ago

As I write this, the country is waiting for the publication of the conclusions of the public inquiry on the heinous assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The day it happens will be an important day, but it will not be a day of reckoning. That day is yet to come.

I sincerely hope that publication will be the beginning of a much-needed healing process which our country badly needs.

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Let’s remember what the task of the public inquiry is and how it’s different from both the police investigation and the other inquiry, the magisterial inquiry, into her death. In the words of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation:

“Following Daphne’s murder, the Maltese authorities initiated a magisterial inquiry and parallel criminal proceedings against three men who allegedly detonated the bomb that killed her, and Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of conspiring to commission and finance her assassination. Both the criminal proceedings and magisterial inquiry focus solely on criminal culpability. The public inquiry addresses the wider and even more serious question as to whether and how far the Maltese state is responsible for the circumstances that led to Daphne’s death.”

Some may have an interest in toning down “the wider and even more serious question.” The responsibility of the Maltese state puts all of us in the balance.

If our state is led by people who do not, or would not, protect one of us, what guarantee do we have, as a nation, that the same state will protect any of us or all of us for that matter?

The massive importance of this inquiry and its findings has been somewhat thrust into the background because the spotlight has been on all the shocking details that have been exposed in the course of the public inquiry itself as well as in the criminal proceedings.

Many started following each session meticulously but ended up fatigued by the sheer volume of revelations. There have been days when it was almost impossible to follow the details, with media headlines changing faster than you could refresh the pages of the news portals.

This week, Bernard Grech, as Leader of the Opposition and on behalf of the Partit Nazzjonalista, reached out to the Prime Minister and invited him to work in a bipartisan way to commit to implement the inquiry’s recommendations; the aim is to learn the necessary lessons and give the country closure.

Dr Grech’s appeal was greeted favourably by people of goodwill who expect our leaders to put the national interest first.

I will not speculate on what the Prime Minister will do next. That is totally in his hands.

I am however very proud that the leader of my party was the one to make such a bold and mature step forward towards the true healing of our nation.

On the same day he proposed this bipartisan mission to Robert Abela, Dr Grech penned a very moving article in this newspaper, called “We owe it to Daphne, her family and Malta.”

I was particularly struck by Dr Grech’s reference to the Caruana Galizia family’s relentless struggles: “beating the odds with such strength of character, clear thinking and unwavering determination, I am deeply humbled.

“I am also overwhelmed by a feeling of personal gratitude because I know their fight is a fight for all those among us who were killed, silenced, hurt or betrayed by a system that was meant to protect them.”

This is what political leadership needs in our country. The gravitas of knowing clearly who you are and what you stand for while humbly showing empathy and admiration for those who never give up on a cause which is not for themselves but for our country.

As I wrote earlier, Abela’s next move is his and his alone.

My appeal is to those people who have found it so comfortable to thrash all politicians while they sat on the fence, who felt betrayed but did very little, if anything at all.

A true time for healing and reckoning will come. When it does, I don’t want to be sitting on the fence. Neither do I want to be on the wrong side of the fence, where the money may be good but is clearly being thrown to blind the judgement which every one of us needs to see the historical importance of this moment.

And yes, we owe it to Daphne, to her husband, her magnificent sons, her sisters, and her dear parents — we also owe it to our country and our own children.

Dr Grech’s proposal is an invitation to all of us. I accept it. I will serve and lead by example. And what about you?

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