MaltaToday | 18 May 2008 | Say cheese: PM poses with Armier squatters

NEWS | Sunday, 18 May 2008

Say cheese: PM poses with Armier squatters

James Debono

The Armier squatters have published a memorable photo taken in Castille to mark the signing of their secret pre-electoral pact with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
The event and photo were never publicised by the department of information, contrary to normal practice.
The pact was signed on 18 February, just five days after the Prime Minister promised to redress the country’s environmental deficit by taking over responsibility for the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA).
“We now have it in writing from the Prime Minister himself who will be in charge of MEPA that this agreement will be implemented and that no action will be taken against boathouses built before 1992,” the president of the squatters’ association Tarcisio Barbara boasted on the latest edition of their newsletter Mill-Bajja.
“We are proud and satisfied with the agreement we reached. We are serious people and we take the professional advice to negotiate with everyone on the eve of the elections,” Tarcisio Barbara wrote.
Barbara also dwelled on the squatters’ strategy before the election. “To avoid controversy on the eve of the election we did not organise any meeting and we kept everyone informed through the newsletter and other correspondence.”
He also warned “the few egoists” among the squatter community not to spoil this success. “The environmental organisations are already against the agreement signed with the government. This was already evident in a section of the press. Let’s not be foolish.”
Barbara warned his organisation would never accept the conditions MEPA had imposed on the boathouses it sanctioned in Dwejra a few days before the election.
MEPA had imposed fines equivalent to €69 per square metre of land and also imposed a condition against the provision of water and electricity services to these boathouses. “If these conditions are imposed on our boathouses in Armier we will not accept them. Therefore I warn all those involved to act according to the terms of the agreements which the government has promised to honour.”

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