Opposition leader Bernard Grech was scathing in his criticism of the Labour Party’s parliamentary group this morning, accusing them of allowing an environment in which a journalist could be killed to be created.
Not only had they failed to stand up for what was right, but they had continued to defend the indefensible for years after, Grech said.
Grech was speaking after Prime Minister Robert Abela in Parliament during a debate about the findings of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Reconciliation is too little too late
Grech responded to Abela’s conciliatory remarks by claiming that the Prime Minister was out of touch with reality.
“He wants us to forget all that we have been through, all we have lived these last years,” Grech said.
“Sure we can work together, the truth is that I’ve been offering to work together since October but you have refused,” he said. “To work together the first thing you need is humility, the acceptance that you aren’t at the centre of everything.”
Grech recalled that Parliament was debating the report from an inquiry that sought to determine whether the state was responsible for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“Yes it is responsible because instead of taking action, or letting those with the responsibility to investigate, investigate, it chose to demonize her, to look the other way and to protect criminals.”
Criminality, he said, had taken hold of the country’s institutions because of the impunity created by the government.
“Impunity is having the peace of mind that they can get away with murder. These should be the words that continue to echo in this room and in your conscience.”
A nation that forgot the past was destined to relive it, he said.
Cabinet more interested in defending criminals
Quoting from the inquiry, Grech said the Cabinet was clearly more interested in the generation of wealth and in defending the interests of criminals than in its responsibility towards the people.
“Even if the Prime Minister is apologising, and he is right to do so because it is at least the first step, he cannot give the impression that he is somehow running a different government to his predecessor,” Grech continued.
He accused Abela of continuing to protect people who should have been charged in court by now. “The candidate of continuity is still defending, or maybe is still afraid to not defend Joseph Muscat.”
Grech accused the Prime Minister of being Muscat’s “puppet”.
Grech had harsh words for government MPs who had continued in their attempts to discredit the Caruana Galizia family, who he commended for successfully forcing the government’s hand and ensuring that the public inquiry did actually take place.
He pointed to former Justice Minister Owen Bonnici for ordering the repeated clearing of a makeshift memorial for the journalist, former Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia for his defence of former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna for allowing the government to enter into corrupt deals.
Conclusions should be implemented by 16th October
Grech welcomed the Prime Minister’s invitation to work together to implement the report’s recommendations, calling for a Parliamentary committee to be established for this purpose.
“Let’s make sure that by 16th October we have most of the recommendations made by the public inquiry in place,” Grech said, adding that this should be just the start.
While the Opposition was willing to cooperate with the government, Grech said this did not mean that it would not continue to insist that responsibility be shouldered for what had happened.
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