MaltaToday: Two years after New Year’s tragedy, commission submits report
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NEWS | Sunday, 23 December 2007

Two years after New Year’s tragedy, commission submits report

Matthew Vella

Recommendations on entertainment establishments set out by a commission appointed in the wake of the death of a girl who fell off the Valletta bastions on New Year’s Eve two years ago, have been submitted to the Home Affairs and Justice Minister Tonio Borg.
The “entertainment commission” was set up to re-examine laws related to entertainment places under the chairmanship of court expert Dr Joe Micallef Stafrace. Also on the board were social worker Emanuel Mangani, Police Inspector Domenic Micallef, and Dr Cynthia Scerri Debono from the Attorney Generals’ office.
The GRTU, which represents bar owners amongst others, have also presented recommendations to the commission, which include proposals to discourage the congregation of people drinking outside of establishments.
Vice-president Philip Fenech described the sight of “youth drinking and urinating out in the streets” as “shabby”, referring to frequent scenes of minors drinking outside Paceville with alcoholic beverages purchased from bottle shops.
But they have also proposed extending opening hours for establishments with music by an hour, from 4am to 5am, during peak seasons.
Appogg chief executive Joe Gerada said the national social welfare agency has presented its own recommendations on alcohol abuse, despite not being part of the commission.
“We are pushing for a streamlining of licences issued to establishments such as bottle shops. With three licences issued separately by the police, the tourism authority, and the trade licensing department, we feel that this has left room for particular shops to double up as confectionaries, and sell alcohol in the evening.”
Gerada also said the agency wants the police to be given full rights to apply breathalyser tests randomly. “Police officers have currently no right to apply the test unless they have ‘reasonable’ suspicion of motorists driving erratically, such as swerving on the road. We feel they should be given full rights to test randomly drivers for alcohol consumption.”
He added that Appogg wants the industry to be more socially responsible to the effects of alcohol by being made to pay for the awareness campaigns and treatment of alcoholics. “Who makes profits from alcohol sales must contribute, and not just the taxpayer.”

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