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News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Saturday, March 11, 2006

GGR & Disability Movement accuse Chief Minister

In a joint press statement today, the Gibraltar Local Disability Movement (GLDM) and Equality Rights group GGR have accused the Chief Minister of “playing politics with the disabled.”

Gordon Nelson, Spokesperson for the GLDM explained that following a letter written by his organisation to Lord Williamson of Horton, the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers in the House of Lords, a letter from Douglas Alexander, UK Minister for Europe, has been passed on which reveals something which is no secret to anybody: that the tripartite talks have the airport deal as an important agenda item. “This being the case,” Mr Nelson goes on to add, “it is of significance that the Chief Minister, as a participant in those talks, should not have insisted that the exclusion of disabled passengers from the EU Regulation affecting their rights should not have followed the now almost routine process of excluding Gibraltar precisely because this Regulation is concerned with the very human and non-political issue of the disabled. There can be little doubt that a forceful moral argument along these lines by Mr Caruana, had he troubled himself, would have found support not only amongst Gibraltarians but also possibly amongst ordinary British and Spanish citizens!”

GGR Chairman Felix Alvarez added that “The Minister for Europe’s letter is all the more damning because Mr Alexander says this exclusion of the disabled in Gibraltar allowed “EU business to proceed without prejudicing any party’s position on sovereignty” as if the disabled are some kind of inconvenience and politics a mere set of blinkers which prevents us from seeing that the prejudice being visited is not upon the institutions but upon the disabled whose rights should humanly come above the procedural political business of the day!”

“In sharp contrast to the Chief Minister’s inaction on this matter in defence of Gibraltar’s disabled,” Mr Alvarez continued, “it is good to see two recent developments: an initiative to set up a website for disabled tourists coming to Gibraltar, and also another one, which comes as a result of representations by MEPs Graham Watson, Glyn Ford and Neil Parish (but certainly not as a result of any representation by Mr Caruana or his Government) concerning the fact that GB Airways have now given formal written assurances that despite the EU exclusion they will nonetheless operate the same rights to the disabled travelling to and from Gibraltar as are now being enjoyed throughout the EU. GGR and GLDM wish to jointly convey our gratitude for this decision. However, should any disabled passengers experience any difficulties in this respect they should contact either of our organisations.”