Sociologist and PN Sliema councillor Michael Briguglio has hit back at critics who claimed his presence as one of the speakers at yesterday’s protest at the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia added a partisan tinge to the demonstration.
“I have been active in civil society since 1994. I was active in successful campaigns such as Stipends, Front Kontra l-Golf Kors, EU membership and Divorce,” Briguglio said in a blogpost. “I also co-organized the Save Zonqor protest and co-organized yesterday’s #gustizzja protest and the civil society #panamapapers protest last year. When I led (2009-13) and was active in AD (1998-2017) I campaigned in civil society, too.”
“I joined PN as I believed in Simon Busuttil’s struggle for good governance which AD did not support. As a civil society activist and local councillor I was always ready to work with others who believe in the cause, whatever their background. And I will keep doing the same. No troll, apparatchik, cynic, armchair critic or sectarian will shut me up. My loyalty is to truth and change for the better. And no, I have no interest in leadership or other positions.”
Thousands of people flocked to yesterday’s protest in Valletta
Briguglio, as a representative of the Civil Society Network, was the final speaker at yesterday’s protest in which he demanded the instant resignations of the police commissioner and the Attorney General and for their replacements to be chosen by a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
However, some people argued Briguglio and Manuel Delia – a blogger who used to head the secretariat of former PN minister Austin Gatt – should not have been one of the speakers at the demonstration.
These included Partit Demokratiku MP Godfrey Farrugia and PD leadership hopeful Timothy Alden
“The event was important and had to happen, but I do not agree with the choice of speakers or organisers,” Alden said in a series of posts on a Facebook group. “I think this would be best channeled as an issue for civil society. Michael Briguglio is now a politico.”
Moviment Graffitti activist Andre Callus warned the Civil Society Network is objectively a front for the Nationalist Party created specifically to push forwards the PN’s agenda.
“Contrary to what many think, this is NOT composed of civil society organisations but is made up of people who are part of the PN, or very close to it,” Callus said. “Most initiatives and statements by this group of individuals were never discussed with other organisations. Organisations and other individuals were simply asked to endorse them and it was always carefully ensured that the kind of discourse used neatly fits in the PN agenda.”
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the PN organising a demonstration calling for justice or with the PN having its own agenda. What is wrong, however, is to disguise yourself as civil society when you’re not.”
National Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri said he left the protest as soon as Manuel Delia took to the stage, arguing it was clear the organisers had “subtly turned the event into a PN meeting”.
“Manuel Delia was a close aide to Austin Gatt when in government,” Camilleri said. “Gatt was implicated in an oil corruption scandal in which his friends took kick-backs against government oil purchases. Gatt was never investigated.”
Writer Alex Vella Gera, who along with Camilleri had been charged in court for blasphemy nine years ago over a university magazine article, warned people not to trust Manuel Delia’s intentions.
“Apart from his hardly glorious past, Manuel Delia’s blogs hardly augur well either. Don’t allow him to jump on the bandwagon so as to gain political validity.”
Manuel Delia also found himself in the line of fire
In a blogpost, Manuel Delia pledged to stand firm in the face of attacks – which he said are being coordinated by the Labour Party in a similar manner as they used to be aimed at Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“In Super One’s reporting, people at today’s march (except of course Chris Fearne and his props) do not really care about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s loss,” he wrote. “They’re just there because it’s a political platform for the PN. It was all over the red flag waving half of Malta’s chamber on Facebook: Manuel Delia should not speak. He should shut up.”
“Well Daphne Caruana Galizia faced that every day of her life for 30 years. It took semtex to stop her. So unless you intend to roll out the semtex for me as well, dear Labour Party by all means indulge yourself.”