Speaker’s suggestion for MPs to receive COVID vaccine shot down by Abela and Grech

Following a ruling handed down on Monday evening, the Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia suggested to the Deputy Prime Minister that MPs be administered the jab to avoid disrupting parliamentary work  

Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia
Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia

Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech shot down a suggestion by Speaker Anġlu Farrugia to have all MPs vaccinated against COVID-19.

Farrugia made the suggestion when handing down a ruling on comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne in the House last week.

The Speaker said that by vaccinating MPs, parliamentary work could continue unhindered.

Prime Minister Robert Abela immediately stood up and politely dismissed the suggestion, insisting that he should not be administered the vaccine before others who needed it more.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech also turned down the Speaker’s suggestion,adding he would not be part of a vaccination programme “tweaked to attract votes”. 

The ruling following a heated exchange last week when Fearne repeated multiple times that MPs from the Opposition benches personally approached him to ask whether they or their family members could skip the vaccination queue. Fearne had said he would be revealing the names to the Opposition leader.  

Following the uproar, Opposition Whip Robert Cutajar asked for a ruling by the Speaker on Fearne’s comments, asking whether the Health Minister will stand by his comments or withdraw them.

The Speaker today ruled that he could not make a decision as to whether Fearne's comments constituted a breach of parliamentary privilege, because Cutajar’s request was not made at the first available opportunity.

In a second breach of privilege ruling raised by Bernard Grech, Farrugia turned down the request because Fearne had not identified any MP by name.

This second ruling concerned Grech's statement that Fearne had spoken PN MP Claudette Buttigieg. Buttigieg had denied requesting to skip the vaccine queue and insisted she had been approached to take the vaccine before she was entitled to do so, but refused the offer. 

Grech went on to formally complain to the Speaker about the issue, and accused Fearne of abusing of his parliamentary privilege. 

After today's ruling, Grech said he would be contesting it since it was not in line with what he had requested last week.  

“Chris Fearne failed to produce any names or proof of his so called Whatsapp conversations. I challenge him to publish the names,” Grech said.