[WATCH] Coleiro Preca calls on MPs to give children a 'voice'

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca unanimously approved as President by MPs

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca addresses parliament for the last time as a minister (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca addresses parliament for the last time as a minister (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Marie Louise leaves the Chamber with husband Edgar Preca (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Marie Louise leaves the Chamber with husband Edgar Preca (Photo: Chris Mangion)
President-designate Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on her way to the Chamber for the last time as an MP (Photo: Chris Mangion)
President-designate Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on her way to the Chamber for the last time as an MP (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Outgoing minister Coleiro Preca accompanied by her aides (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Outgoing minister Coleiro Preca accompanied by her aides (Photo: Chris Mangion)
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca's last sitting as MP, before her appointment to President of the Republic

Members of Parliament tonight approved two separate motions, one proposing the appointment of Marie Louise Coleiro Preca as President of Malta and another in appreciation of the outgoing President, George Abela.

As expected, the motions, both presented by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat were unanimously approved.

In her last speech in Parliament as MP, an emotional President-designate Marie Louise Coleiro Preca told MPs to give children, especially unaccompanied child migrants, protection and a voice, “as though they are our own children.”

Following her speech, a tearful Coleiro Preca tendered her resignation to the Speaker before walking out of Parliament to the applause of all MPs and her family, collaborators and friends in the Strangers’ Gallery.

Coleiro Preca addresses parliament for the last time as minister

Explaining the travails that child migrants go through, including sexual and physical abuse in reception centres, she said “If  my daughter had to go through such an experience, I would lose it. Let us not be afraid, let us make sure that we offer them protection.”

“Let us unite our forces and tell Europe that we want to give these children a better future, but we cannot do it alone. We need help to be able to do so.”

In a direct address to MPs, she pleaded “give space to children and give them a voice.”

Admitting that she could not put her thoughts on paper before her last speech in Parliament as an MP, Coleiro Preca told both sides of the House and the large crowd in last the strangers gallery that she would be “speaking from the heart.”

Thanking her constituents of the sixth electoral district, who elected her to parliament for four consecutive elections, a visibly emotional Coleiro Preca said that she would “carry her “responsibilities towards the country, which might be small in size but with immense values.”

Promising to be a catalyst for love, tolerance and understanding, Coleiro Preca said “we, as a nation, must be capable of respecting each other despite our differences.”

Stressing that Malta was no longer a homogenous Catholic country, the President-designate pointed out that despite the diversity, “we are all Maltese and we should look at what unites us. This is what I want to convey to the people.”

“If we do not understand who we are we we’ll end up not knowing who our neighbours are, creating bigger challenges for ourselves along the way,” she added.

 “I love my country and you have given me an opportunity to dedicate all my time to the country.”

In her concluding remarks, with tears in her eyes, Coleiro Preca thanked the former parliamentary secretary Franco Mercieca who served under her, her staff and collaborators at the social solidarity ministry and bringing a smile to their faces, excused herself for driving her crazy because of her hyperactivity.

She also thanked the opposition for supporting her nomination and admitted that she was “touched” by the unprecedented move by the Pn to support a government nominee as President.

Marie Louise Coleiro is set to go down in Maltese history as the first president hailing from the party in government to be voted into office with the support of the Opposition. 

Last month, Nationalist MPs decided to vote in favour of the motion proposing Coleiro Preca to become Malta’s ninth President.

Tonight the  popular Qormi MP, who enjoyed the approval of 40% of PN voters in the latest MaltaToday survey on ministers’ ratings, set foot in the Palace for the last time as an elected representative.

However, following Friday’s swearing-in ceremony, she will be occupying the President’s office in Valletta.

Coleiro Preca – whose nomination for president has been described by the prime minister as the country’s “social soul” and the government’s “point of reference” - will be the second female president and the sixth nominee emerging from the Labour Party since Malta became a Republic in 1974.

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