Graffitti activists tell PN MPs they are not welcome at anti-construction protest

Political parties are not welcome at a national protest against development and in favour of the environment that will be held on Saturday

A placard from a 2017 protest march depicting the two major parties as being in cahoots with developers
A placard from a 2017 protest march depicting the two major parties as being in cahoots with developers

Graffitti activists have turned down requests by exponents of the Nationalist Party to attend Saturday’s pro-environment and anti-development protest.

At least two prominent Graffitti activists – Angele Deguara and Wayne Flask – took to Facebook to publicly reject requests by PN MPs to be part of the protest, insisting the activity belonged “to the people”.

Neither of the two Graffitti activists mentioned the names of PN MPs, who asked whether they could attend but in a pointed outburst, Flask hinted that former leader Simon Busuttil was one of them.

Flask posted “a reminder” to those acting surprised at a non-partisan protest “after years of silence while their top executives were salaried by Silvio Debono”.

The reference was to the 2017 revelation when Debono’s DB Group lifted the lid on how it had been asked by the PN, led by Busuttil, to finance the salaries of top party officials.

The salaries were hidden behind false invoices issued by the PN’s media arm to the DB Group.

“You should know your place, let the people protest, and stop trying to hijack common citizens and their feelings,” Flask wrote.

Some PN MPs had attended a protest march in Pembroke last year against the DB Group's City Centre project
Some PN MPs had attended a protest march in Pembroke last year against the DB Group's City Centre project

Several PN MPs, including Busuttil and Karol Aquilina, had attended a protest in Pembroke organised by Graffitti and local councils against the DB Group’s City Centre project last year. Some PN MPs also joined a protest against the Central Link project in July, organised by the Attard Residents Environment Network.

But Saturday’s protest against the construction industry planned by Graffitti has been billed as a national event and MPs have been clearly told not to attend.

Deguara cheekily asked those in the PN who were feeling “excluded and confused” at being told not to attend the protest, where they were when Graffitti used to protest against environmental destruction under previous Nationalist administrations.

“Where were you when the Graffitti Movement was protesting when the PN was in government and these same people had the power to introduce pro-environment and pro-people policies but instead chose to appease speculators and developers like this government continued to do,” Deguara said.

She insisted the group was consistent in its opposition to environmental destruction for the past 25 years.

The protest on Saturday will be held in Valletta and the theme is Enough Is Enough. Protestors have released their demands, which include a moratorium on large-scale projects until a plan for development is introduced that respects the community and ensures these are sustainable.

Another demand is for the authorities responsible for the environment and planning to be independent from commercial and political interests.

The government and the Opposition have representatives on the boards of the Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority.

The protest kicks off at 10am in front of the law courts.

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