Gżira PN club will be demolished to make way for studio apartments

The Nationalist Party will shortly lose its presence in the Gżira community after the building it used to rent out will make way for apartments

The PN club in Gżira was rented from third parties and will soon make way for studio apartments
The PN club in Gżira was rented from third parties and will soon make way for studio apartments

A faded plaque on the outside of the Nationalist Party club in Gżira still commemorates Malta’s 25th Independence Day anniversary in 1989.

Those festivities, coming just two years after the PN was elected to government after 16 years in the wilderness, were marked in grand style.

In line with its name, Każin Jum l-Indipendenza, the PN Gżira club saw fit to commemorate that occasion with a marble plaque on its façade.

The plaque still stands today – a decrepit, faded version of its old self, with a bright blue and red Remax sticker beneath it.

For years, the two-storey building in the heart of Gżira, just up from the parish church, served as a reference point of sorts for PN activists in the predominantly Labour-leaning locality.

But the building is destined to be demolished, making way for studio apartments, for which a planning permit was issued last June to the sole owner of the property, a certain Mark Agius.

According to a spokesperson for the PN, the building did not belong to the party. “It is rented from third parties,” he said, without saying when the lease agreement was terminated.

It remains unclear whether the PN will attempt to have a presence in Gżira
It remains unclear whether the PN will attempt to have a presence in Gżira

The building has been closed for a while with the party sectional committee meeting there occasionally. “It no longer remained a hive of activity as it was in the past and the sectional committee is lethargic, demotivated,” a PN member from the locality told MaltaToday.

The latest photos on the PN Gżira sectional committee’s Facebook page go back to a timpana night in November 2014.

A visit to the building this morning showed blue and white balloons decorating the first-floor balcony – a gesture to mark the locality’s feast, celebrated over the weekend. A lone PN flag still flutters, at almost half mast.

But other than these outward signs and a black sticker advertising that the bar is open daily, the building is dead.

The PN member noticed the brand new Remax sticker on Monday morning. It may have been there for some time but it is a stark reminder that the club, which once commemorated Independence Day will no longer be a focal point for Nationalists.

It remains unclear whether the PN will continue to have a presence in Gżira. The locality joins a list of others where the party has, for the past five years, withdrawn. In some localities, the PN disposed of property it owned to try and hack away at its debts.

Withdrawing from the community

The PN administration under Simon Busuttil had inherited a mountain of debt, which forced the party to take drastic measures such as the sale of clubs and the issuance of ċedoli, private loan agreements, to raise money.

In 2015, the party set up the Patria Trust with a commitment to sell 10 party clubs over 10 years as part of a debt management plan. A number of party clubs were identified for sale, including Fleur-de-Lys, St Paul’s Bay, Qormi, Birżebbuġa and Żejtun.

READ ALSO: PN had committed to selling ten clubs to control escalating debt

The Patria Trust remains active and the sale of PN clubs continues despite Delia being elected leader on the promise of stopping the sale of party property. The latest club to be sold is the one in Birżebbuġa.

With the lease on the Gżira property terminated, the building will make way for studio apartments, which will most probably end up being rented to the locality’s growing foreign population. There is a sense of irony in this.

Adrian Delia’s PN has been harping on protecting the nation’s identity by fearmongering on the growing foreign population. But while it does this, the PN’s withdrawal from the community continues.