The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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‘The people are in Valletta today to tell Robert Abela that now enough is enough’, Grech says

Sunday, 5 March 2023, 16:02 Last update: about 13 months ago

Report by Semira Abbas Shalan and Albert Galea


Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech warned Prime Minister Robert Abela that the people have been clear in their belief that now enough is enough.

Thousands answered the PN’s call for a national protest in Valletta on Sunday – the second such protest that the party has called since a court judgement annulled a controversial government deal to hand over three hospitals to first Vitals Global Healthcare and then Steward Health Care.

Grech dedicated much of his speech to the hospitals judgement, describing the concession as a “plan” to rob the people of their riches and of their health.

He blasted the government for snatching the country’s institutions over the past decade, thereby allowing them to think that they can do what they want and get away with what they please.

He said that while the government gave millions and millions of the people’s money to Steward Health Care, today there are still patients in hospital wards underground, with no windows or sanitary facilities.

“This is the theft of people’s health; this is the theft of people’s dignity,” he said.

He then moved onto the Prime Minister Robert Abela, saying that the Labour Party leader must still be studying the sentence because up until today he has not apologised to the people, or told the people how he will recover the money which they had been robbed of or how he will address the needs of the country’s health.

“Today he told us that they will open a new hospital in Gozo.  Like the opened a new mental health hospital in the last ten years, or a new mother and child hospital. Or like they fixed all the roads in the country in the last seven years, or solved the traffic problem.  You cannot trust them.  They had one plan: a plan they started the day after the won the election and went to open secret accounts,” Grech said in reference to the Panama Papers scandal.

“Then the litany began,” Grech said.

He said that Robert Abela and Chris Fearne both said that they were not responsible. Konrad Mizzi, he noted, remained silent.  Edward Scicluna, he added, likewise remained silent.  Clyde Caruana, he said, got offended and then said he was doing his job. “Close the tap to your friends who are robbing us then,” Grech said.

Evarist Bartolo, he said, had suddenly found his tongue since he left politics. “Where were you when you voted for them to keep robbing us like all the others did?,” Grech questioned.

“Then there was one more: the one who Robert Abela and his friends are afraid to mention, lest he set off an earthquake for them.  Joseph Muscat came out and told us ‘yes it’s true that it was me, but they were all in it with me because we passed it through Cabinet’,” Grech said.

He noted how Abela had said that he wouldn’t let the PN “breach the peace.”

“He wants to keep ruling over us and leaving Joseph Muscat in peace, otherwise he would turn around and bite him.  The people are in Valletta today to tell Robert Abela that now enough is enough,” Grech said.

He said that there is only one point where he is ready to back Robert Abela, and called upon him to open a case against Steward and Vitals to get the people’s money back.  “Open this case today, and you will find our support.  For once, do what is right and not what is good for only you,” Grech said.

Grech shifted his speech to JeanPaul Sofia – the 20-year-old who died in the collapse of a shoddily built factory in the Corradino Industrial Estate.  He said that the PN will be tabling a motion for a public inquiry into his death to take place, and said that he was expecting every MP to vote in favour of it and do what is right.

“We need to see what went wrong, and to clean up our country from the cowboys of corruption and construction,” Grech said.

Turning to the case of the murder of Bernice Cassar, Grech said that a report found that she died because the state failed her.

He produced a copy of an official court document, showing a court charge sheet for a domestic violence case.  He said that this was a case which happened at the end of last year, and the first hearing for it will take place in October 2024.

“You should be ashamed. You have abandoned everyone, except the criminals with whom you are one thing with. This is Malta under Robert Abela. This is why you should be proud for being here.  This is why you should be proud for making your voice heard, because you are here for those who are suffering,” Grech said.

“We aren’t going to let you keep doing what you want,” Grech said, addressing the government.

Ending his speech, Grech quoted Ruzar Briffa’s famous ‘Jum ir-Rebħ’ poem, saying that the crowd rose all at once and that those who try to keep the Maltese down would live to regret it.

‘The people are here with one message today: give us our money back’ – Adrian Delia

Also addressing the crowd was former PN leader Adrian Delia, focusing his speech exclusively on the hospitals court judgement.

He said that Malta had won because the PN had stopped the robbery not of 400 million – “that’s what they stole so far,” Delia said – but of 4,000 million, which is what the concessionaires would have received across the whole contract.

Delia said that there was a list of people who he summoned to testify in court, and each one were found to be responsible by the courts.  He further expressed outrage that the Attorney General “rushed straight to court to defend the fraudulent foreigners” in the case.

He again said that the contract, which spanned 30 years, would have seen the concessionaires rob 4,000 million in taxpayer’s money.  He said that that is the equivalent of 20,000 from every single person in the country.

He lambasted Bank of Valletta for giving Steward a no-questions-asked 36 million loan, drawing a comparison between the amount of bureaucracy and paperwork which the bank requests from common people when they go to take out a loan.

Delia questioned who will shoulder responsibility, and who will get the 400 million back from Steward. “The people are here today and they have one message: give us our money back,” he said.

The former PN leader said that justice is done in court, but that justice must also be done through the thieves giving back every last penny which they had robbed.

“We are going to keep fighting, but us fighting together isn’t enough.  We want you together, on this walk with us.  If one voice can be heard, imagine how much more you will all be heard shouting together with us,” he said.

UĦM Secretary Josef Vella also addressed the protest, saying that his union was the only one not to sign any piece of paper with Vitals or Steward because they realised that “this story stinks.”

He too quoted the court judgement extensively, and questioned who would pay the 36 million loan which the concessionaires took out from BOV now.

Law student Michaela Ann Bayliss also addressed the protest.

The protest ended with the singing of the national anthem.



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