Delia lambasts economy minister over ‘foolish’ Facebook comment on hunting controversy

Opposition leader Adrian Delia takes Silvio Schembri to task over ‘foolish’ remark on hunting at a time when Schembri should be concerned over rearing unemployment

Economy minister Silvio Schembri
Economy minister Silvio Schembri

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has called out economy minister Silvio Schembri for a “foolish” remark on hunting, just days after latest data suggested rising levels of unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Opposition leader was referring to a Facebook post by the economy minister, in which he accused the Nationalist party of “always having been against hunting”, a reference to a criminal complaint filed by conservationists BirdLife - not the PN - claiming hunting licences for the spring season had been issued illegally by the Gozo ministry.

“The Environment and Protection Act calls upon the minister of the environment to issue these licences… nobody is above the law,” BirdLife board member Darryl Grima said outside the police headquarters on Wednesday, where he presented his compliant to a police representative.

But Schembri, a hunter, used the occasion to fire a missive against the PN on Facebook, instantly inviting a barrage of partisan comments propping him up. “They will do everything to break their fellow Maltese countrymen,” Schembri said in his Facebook post.

PN leader Adrian Delia called out the minister for wasting his time on social media, at a time when unemployment in the country has risen by 28%. “This is a sorry situation which shows the clear disrespect this government has towards hundreds who have lost their job,” Delia later said.

Jobless people registering for work increased by 353 last month as the first tangible impacts of COVID-19 started being felt on the economy.

The number of people registering for work with Jobsplus, a government agency, stood at 2,125 in March, an increase of 20% over the previous year. Unemployment increased across all age groups, the National Statistics Office said on Tuesday. 

READ ALSO: Hunters have illegal licence: BirdLife files complaint to police 

The Labour Party accused Delia of disregarding hunters' rights by ridiculing Schembri's comment. The party said the criminal complaint filed by BirdLife was baseless and the Opposition leader made it his by not condemning the criminal report.



"With his declaration, Delia has made his the police report filed against hunters, just as he made his the criminal report filed by his justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi for the police to take action against soldiers, the Brigadier and the Prime Minister," the PL said.