JPO memoirs deliver take-down of old enemies, ‘assholes and traitors’

Former Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, whose divorce bill rocked the Gonzi administration, pens memoirs

The former Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, famous for tabling the divorce bill that turned the tide on the Gonzi administration’s fusty conservatism, notorious for the Mistra scandal of 2008, has penned an autobiography in which he despatches his past political opponents with a brazen political tell-all.

Born in a house of mixed political pedigree, Pullicino Orlando’s coming-of-age under Mintoffian authoritarianism in the 1980s saw him drift into the youth resistance organised under the Nationalist Party.

“I was shocked to witness the behaviour of those who should have been defending us. I went to the opposite extreme - if there’s no rule of law, then I’ll take the law into my own hands. I will have to admit that a lot of the political violence of the 80s was instigated by the Nationalist Party, encouraging hotheads like us to foment trouble.”

JPO recalls skirmishes with the police officers of the notorious Special Mobile Unit, even Lorry Sant himself at the University of Malta (“I’m sure he would have made mincemeat out of me”), and flinging stones at the Tal-Barrani battle.

“I can now see that there was no clear-cut right or wrong side. Both parties made mistakes. I clearly remember that the Nationalists had doled out loaded revolvers on the day… I clearly remember the day when I was first offered a revolver by a party activist. I was 18, it was 1981. I declined.”

The MP makes sure to list down a cast of characters during his political career with which he did political battle, mainly PN colleagues: former ministers Ninu Zammit on the 1998 Siggiewi cement factory campaign, his nemesis “unelected psychopath”, “intolerable bully” Richard Cachia Caruana, “asshole” John Dalli, Lawrence Gonzi with his particular brand of conservatism, and Louis Galea.

In every slight towards Pullicino Orlando, it seems the former MP found the impetus for a new campaign. A case in point was his encounter with Żebbuġ archpriest Daniel Cardona, whose blunt reservations about the separated MP living with his then-partner Carmen, also separated, started getting on the MP’s dander.

The straw that broke the camel’s neck was the Curia’s refusal, accepted by the Gonzi administration, to have separated MPs and their partners meet Pope Benedict during his Malta visit; and right after that, yet another refusal by the Żebbuġ parish church to invite his partner to the inauguration of the restored church façade. JPO ignored the dictate and made sure to be accompanied by his partner Carmen to the event. That very night, he downloaded Ireland’s divorce law and drafted it into the private member’s bill that rocked the Gonzi administration.

Read more about the book in MaltaToday on Sunday