The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

Zerafa Civelli draws ire for saying that Valletta residents felt ashamed to say where they are from

Albert Galea Wednesday, 6 July 2022, 10:07 Last update: about 2 months ago

Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli has drawn anger and ire from Valletta residents, after saying in Parliament that they felt ashamed about saying where they are from.

Zerafa Civelli – who is Robert Abela’s sister-in-law – was speaking in Parliament on Monday when she made the statement which has since drawn the attention – and ire – of many people from Valletta.

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“Up until a few years ago, Valletta was labelled with an unjust stigma,” Zerafa Civelli said towards the beginning of her 10 minute or so speech.

“There was a time when, unfortunately, residents would feel ashamed of saying that they were from there, let alone how much one could imagine that Valletta today would be considered as a place of attraction for both foreigners and locals,” she said.

Later in her speech, Zerafa Civelli – who is from Cospiqua – said that she too had always dreamt of living in a place that she could be proud of and that was free of stigma, and that she is proud of coming from a place which has found somebody to take care of it and to help it flourish.

“Valletta has become the envy of everyone – how lucky the Beltin are that in today’s rushed life, they can take a stroll and enjoy a wonderful atmosphere,” Zerafa Civelli said.

The Parliamentary Secretary later shared a clip of this quote on her Facebook page, saying that she had suffered from the pain of seeing negativity towards a locality rather than people taking advantage of its potential.

Zerafa Civelli was speaking in Parliament during discussions on a motion filed by the Nationalist Party seeking the revocation of a legal notice which allowed establishments to play loud music until 1am – rather than the original 11pm – in certain streets in Valletta.

The motion was eventually struck down, as Labour MPs all voted against it.

Her utterance that residents felt ashamed of saying that they are from Valletta seemingly struck a chord with many of those same residents, who took to social media to blast Zerafa Civelli for the assertion.

A residents group, which has in recent days and weeks protested against the increase in the hours when music can be played in Valletta, said that the residents had never been ashamed of saying that they are from Valletta – to the point that there were some who had always asked for an elderly home to be opened in the city so that they could spend their last days there.

They called on MPs to provide evidence of what they say when they make such statements, and to consider the pain which their words can bring, and said that if anyone did say that they are ashamed of being from Valletta, they would not be referring to Valletta itself, but to the lack of quality of life, services, and respect towards residents that there is.

A Valletta FC supporters page, which hosts almost 20,000 followers, meanwhile left little to interpret, saying “Our home – was and will always be proud of you.  Valletta forever.”

A popular Facebook page called ‘Belt Valletta’, which is a space to share content about Valletta made by the community, meanwhile designed images which state “Always proud to be from Valletta” and encouraged people to set them as their profile picture.

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