Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Alvarez hits back at Minister for Social Affairs

“I have taken note of both the Social Services Agency and the T&G reactions,” said Equality Rights Group Chairman Felix Alvarez today (pictured left, courtesy VOX).
“Minister Del Agua and the Union refer to supposed allegations made by myself. They variously use the term ‘slander’ to describe my remarks following calls for a Public Inquiry into serious allegations of misconduct at the Dr Giraldi Home.

“At no point in time have any statements originating from myself claimed the concerns raised to be established fact. They therefore cannot constitute either allegation, libel or slander. They do, however, express a clear and open democratic concern for issues which in any society should alert each and every citizen to ask critical and vital questions.

“Stifling open questioning in our Society is not the answer. We must learn to react in a different manner if Gibraltar is to reach the standards of self-governance that we are all eager to reach. As Chairman of a human rights organisation in Gibraltar I will continue to raise issues requiring open airing, whether Mrs Del Agua or anyone else likes it or not.

“Minister Del Agua has accused me of conducting a political campaign at the expense of care workers. Let us hope, however, that what really worries Mrs Del Agua and her Party is not actually the cost of open dissent and criticism in a democratic Gibraltar.

“With regard to the T&G, I am gratified to read that the Union welcomes a public inquiry, a move which can only exonerate and do justice to all blameless Union members at the Home and will hopefully alleviate public concern. I fully understand the unpleasantness of the situation, and trust the matter will soon be rectified in everyone’s interests. As I have said before, the issues at root are likely to be systemic in nature and it is the politicians who must answer for delay and incompetence.

“It is a worrying symptom of the state of democracy in our society, however, when calls for public inquiry or investigation into serious issues are, instead of being quickly expedited, met with the almost knee-jerk and routine stoning of anyone who dares to raise their head above the parapet of indifference.

“Let it be clear: I shall continue doing what needs to be done to stand up for human and people’s rights in this community, and I am heartened to find that increasing numbers of Gibraltarians feel the same way too,” Alvarez ended.