Carrying out a hunger strike is not fun. God knows I tried to avoid it. Unfortunately though, the Maltese authorities have become so distanced from the citizen, that the only option left for you to find some justice, is to make a public gesture as I have done. Otherwise your troubles will simply be ignored.
Since the summer of 2015, when certain establishments decided to turn St. Georges Bay into their own private open air nightclub, my neighbours and I began calling on the police to take action. We were calling almost on a daily basis, and more often than not, these establishments were never stopped.
So I decided to make myself familiar with Maltese laws regarding amplified music and noise pollution, and realised that these were being blatantly broken.
The police failed to rectify the situation, and in fact it got worse by the end of that summer, and continued into the winter to an extent.
I spent much of that summer and the following winter, knocking on every relevant ministry and authority door I could, to find out why existent laws were not being enforced. No tangible answers were ever given. This was coupled with almost weekly visits to court, as a witness in cases against a number of establishments.
"The police refused to enforce this law fully, resulting in countless nights where defiant establishments remained open and emanating damaging excessive amplified music to the detriment of its neighbours."
Very little progress was made, court cases made some difference, but the overall situation remained unsolved.
Believe me when I say that at times, the amplified music is so excessive that it feels like you’re at the place from inside your own home, and I’m not even the closest residence to these establishments.
The main issue of the situation is that current laws DO exist which give the police the power to take immediate action when loud music is impacting the surrounding residents. This is crucial, because people are suffering at that moment, and need an immediate remedy so they can sleep. However, for reasons unknown, the police refused to enforce this law fully, resulting in countless nights where defiant establishments remained open and emanating damaging excessive amplified music to the detriment of its neighbours. Even a court Magistrate could not understand why this (and others) law was not being enforced, and in fact made an official statement to the Prime Minister regarding the situation.
"I felt the Prime Minister was being genuine, so I decided to call off my hunger strike for the time being, giving the authorities a chance to rectify the situation."
I had been warning the authorities for months, that the situation was unchanged, that we are still suffering, and how degrading it was that the only solution left to a citizen to seek justice, was to make a public spectacle.
These warnings fell on deaf ears, so I was forced to carry out a hunger strike in order for the authorities to take action. The hunger strike didn't take long but I felt very degraded that I had to go there and do what I did.
I don’t think I had been there for more than an hour, or less even, when the Prime Minister came out personally and asked me if we could have a chat inside Castille.
Inside, I was well greeted by the Prime Minister, and he listened very carefully to the problems we have been facing here in Pembroke. He then told me that he will see to it that the authorities take the necessary actions.
I felt he was being genuine, so I decided to call off my hunger strike for the time being, giving the authorities a chance to rectify the situation.
In fact, later that very same day, all pending court cases have been rescheduled with urgency, and the police force made a statement that enforcement against noise pollution will be taken more seriously all over the country. At this point, we can only wait and see.
Hopefully, things will now take a turn for the better, and I hope the authorities will wake up and listen to the plights of the people, without forcing anyone into a situation where they have to protest publicly to get justice.