Updated | Mario Galea speaks out after withdrawing PN candidature: ‘They made my life hell’

Veteran MP Mario Galea rejects claims by Nationalist leader Bernard Grech there was consensus to step aside • PN leader says he will sack anyone who taunted Mario Galea with his medical condition

Former PN candidate Mario Galea
Former PN candidate Mario Galea

Updated at 12pm with Bernard Grech reaction

Nationalist MP Mario Galea has rejected claims by Nationalist leader Bernard Grech that there was consensus to withdraw his election candidature.

He was reacting to a suggestion by Grech yesterday evening in Valletta that the decision by four MPs to step aside and make way for new blood in the party was borne out of persuasion and consensus.

“It’s not true he told us to resign. I had already prepared my campaign. I took photos at my district and had already begun home visits,” he told MaltaToday when contacted on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, three nationalist MPs – Kristy Debono, Clyde Puli and Mario Galea – announced they would not be contesting the general election. Later in the evening, Claudio Grech also announced he would not be contesting, during a PN event in St George's Square Valletta that was addressed by Bernard Grech.

Bernard Grech said Claudio's decision was borne out of persuasion that the PN needed to regenerate itself. The PN leader made a brief mention of the earlier resignations, insisting that even Puli, Galea and Debono understood the need for regeneration within the party.

But Galea has rejected Grech's claims. “It’s completely not true,” he told MaltaToday. “On Sunday evening, I received calls from the party headquarters to attend the press conference on Monday.”

Asked for the reason behind his decision to withdraw his candidature, Galea said people close to the party leadership made his life “hell”.

“I was made a disposable commodity... People close to the leadership also called out my mental health,” Galea said.

He said Bernard Grech had recently even asked him whether he was doing home visits. Galea said he had already participated in party photoshoots and interviews, signalling his intention to contest.

“I was actively campaigning, but now it’s too much, and I felt I needed to get out,” he said.

Galea, 59, was elected for the first time to parliament in 1992 on the 3rd District, which comprises his hometown Żejtun. In 1996 he failed to retain his seat but was elected again in 1998 and every other election after that.

Bernard Grech reacts

Reacting to Galea's comments, PN leader Bernard Grech said should Mario Galea show him “one single proof” that anyone from his team taunted him with his medical condition, he will sack them “immediately”.

“Furthermore I have to clarify that Mario never complained to me about any specific incident,” Grech told MaltaToday.

He said his focus is on regenerating the party. “I never asked anyone to step down but I made it clear to all that we need to encourage a new generation at PN.”