MaltaToday: The lion roars again in Floriana
NEWS | Sunday, 23 December 2007

The lion roars again in Floriana

Karl Schembri

Floriana has finally got rid of its much unwanted sword that was flanking the lion on its coat of arms in what is considered a one big victory for this eccentric little ‘republic’ on the outskirts of Valletta.
It has been a crusade of sorts fronted by Mayor Nigel Holland since when he was still an independent councillor two years ago battling the former independent mayor Publius Agius, who wanted the sword to remain in his symbolic scabbard.
Holland had proposed a motion to remove the sword, insisting that government “just shoved the sword” into the council’s coat of arms next to the Grand Master’s lion when it set up local councils in 1993.
In a vote taken in 2005, Holland garnered the support of the other councillors against the then mayor.
Yet despite the motion, Agius had put his councillors’ protests on the backburner, dragging his feet about taking the motion a step further while awaiting central government to acknowledge the Furjanizi’s will and flying the council office’s flag with the sword to his local constituents’ dismay.
It is only now, under Holland’s mayorship and under his direct threat to send back the mayor’s medal and rekindle his good old battle, that central government has accepted to remove the sword from the council’s insignia and official emblems – a move that could only happen through a legal notice that required the signature of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Trivial as it might sound to outsiders, the question of whether Floriana should scrap or retain the emblematic sword of its patron Grand Master Anton Manoel de Vilhena next to a lion was turned into one of the local power struggles full of theatrical drama.
“I don’t know how, as Furjanizi, we had to wait all these years to rehabilitate our coat of arms to its authentic state, with only the red lion on a white background, the lion which gave us our identity,” Holland had said shortly after he got his way at the fateful council meeting that had sealed the mayor’s unpopularity.
Now, Holland can finally blow his trumpet as the lion is left to roar peacefully without the dreaded sword.
“We’re extremely satisfied that the will of the Floriana people has prevailed now that the central government gave us back the right insignia that has been cherished by one generation after the other,” Holland said shortly after he got to know of the government’s decision.
“It was a long and difficult battle, made worse through a minority local opposition that had the power to block things, to get back the right Floriana insignia instead of the one imposed by the central government. The proper insignia of Floriana includes a lone red lion on a white background, and there was absolutely no need to impose another insignia on Floriana, which, irrespective on its aesthetic beauty, put aside 200 years of our history with the stroke of a pen. Now our link with the past has been re-established and our glorious history can continue in the enjoyment of our original insignia, with the lion dominating on his own as he has always done over every other element.”
Meanwhile, another little lion from Floriana has caused his little uproar. Floriana PN councillor Edward Torpiano has landed his party into some trouble with the Labour media after writing a brief but explosive letter to the MaltaToday editor calling for the expulsion of British High Commissioner Nick Archer following the standoff between Malta and Britain on Foreign Minister Michael Frendo’s candidature for Commonwealth Secretary General.
The Labour media picked up Torpiano’s letter and stormed the Nationalist Party and government with questions and reports, claiming that unless the PN’s upper echelons distanced themselves from Torpiano’s letter it would be interpreted that the government agreed that Archer had to be expelled.

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