Friday, September 30, 2005

Azopardi leaves ruling party in opposition to Feetham merger

F Oliva reports

GSD resignations trouble

Keith Azopardi
Former deputy Chief Minister and GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) stalwart Keith Azopardi resigned from the party yesterday over the merger with Daniel Feetham's Labour Party.

He said the unification was a mistake that was not supported by the membership, and questions that any ‘common ground’ exists with the Labour Party at all.

“All evidence points to thinly veiled political expedience behind this,” he remarked.

“Labour have been the strongest critics of the Government on many issues, from their support for integration, their rejection of the House of Assembly constitutional reform proposals and major differences on taxation policy,” he told the Chronicle yesterday minutes after announcing his decision.

Mr Azopardi argued that at best, the merger had been divisive for the GSD and argued that there was more common ground with Dr Garcia’s Gibraltar Liberal Party than with Labour.

The move that had been widely anticipated for months, confirms the serious political fracture in the ruling party, with the resignation of two significant members of the executive committee in the space of one month – the other being lawyer Nick Cruz who also voiced strong opposition to the merger.

Meanwhile asked about his relationship with the Chief Minister, Mr Azopardi said that beyond political differences there was now “a different slant on their general approach to people” that separated them.

Changed GSD

Mr Azopardi anticipates a fundamental change in political direction of the ‘new’ GSD/Labour formation.

He said that in addition to the newcomers, some veteran colleagues of the executive were close to retirement and would be replaced by hand-picked substitutes to the detriment of the party’s original philosophy and values established over the years.

Executive committee members and party activists were aware his departure was on the cards, and Mr Azopardi predicts that his exit could trigger off a further trickle of high-profile resignations in the immediate future.

He ruled out joining any of the existing or newly created political groupings in Gibraltar, but in reply to questions said he wanted to continue playing a part in local politics, and noted his great political affinity with Nick Cruz who also recently resigned from the GSD executive.

Mr Azopardi said the decision to leave had been a difficult one because he had worked very hard during his years as a government minister, and felt a great sense of bond with many people in the GSD and the political ideas it had represented.

Asked whether his resignation would affect his membership of the Constitutional Reform committee, Mr Azopardi said he did not expect this to be a problem, in the same way as Daniel Feetham’s inclusion had not been affected when he joined the GSD.
However he said that if either the Chief Minister or the Leader of the Opposition thought differently he would leave the committee.

Reform of the House of Assembly

On domestic issues Mr Azopardi says the emphasis has been on securing financial accountability but this had meant not enough progress had been made on democratic accountability in Gibraltar.

Debates of the House of Assembly, he continued, need to be more contemporaneous and other reforms to working practices – such as the enlargement of the number of seats to ensure that the executive cannot ‘steamroll’ its programme – have to be considered.

“There have to be checks and balances on the power of any government as is the case in every other parliament where the government as such is a parliamentary minority.”

Mr Azopardi also pointed to style of government issues and favours more decentralisation, delegation, and where possible consultation and the inclusion of the opposition in legislative initiatives that are not controversial in party political terms.

“We should give the opposition more advanced notice on legislation and discuss issues like for example, EU directives related to traffic.”

More consensus between the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on visits to the UN that would allow both to go as one team should also be possible, he says.

Mr Azopardi also calls for a “lowering of the tone of acrimony” that dominates political exchanges on the Rock. He believes fundamental differences are good in democracy to ensure there are true and genuine alternatives, but dislikes unnecessary animosity.

“This undermines any effort to present a united front, even on domestic issues such as health, education and internal economic affairs to maximise the efficiency of public administration.”

He would also like to see a more “radical approach” to the reform of public services.

“We need a global, structural view of objectives to ensure efficiency rather than a piecemeal approach where an increase of allowances in one sector then has a knock on effect on another which has to be addressed.”

Mr Azopardi would also like to see a more vigorous pace to the continuing constitutional reform discussions with Britain.

Related Articles:

16 September 2005 - Constitutional talks at Caleta get under way

16 September 2005 - Cruz quits party and ponders his political future

05 August 2005 - Feetham joins ruling Social Democrat Party

CBF died “in complete despair” after being removed of his command

by Brian Reyes

Commodare White inquest day one • He was under investigation but had not been arrested or charged

Commodore David White, the former Commander British Forces in Gibraltar, took drink and sedatives before he drowned in the swimming pool of his Mount Barbary home last January 8th, less than a day after being told that he was being relieved of his command.

An inquest into his death heard yesterday that Commodore White, 50, had been recalled to the UK pending an investigation by the Ministry of Defence police into allegations that he had used his credit card to buy pornographic images from a US website.

There was no reference at the inquest to the type of content on that site but UK press reports at the time claimed he was being investigated by Operation Ore, Britain’s largest inquiry into child pornography.

At the time of his death, Commodore White had not been arrested or charged.

“The sudden news on the telephone that he was going to be removed of his command would have been too much to cope with for him,” Rupert White, his brother, told the inquest.

“I think he was in a state of catatonic shock from the time of that telephone call to the time of his death.

I think he was in complete despair.”

Officers from the Ministry of Defence police had interviewed Commodore White on December 15 last year and removed computer equipment, including a laptop, a hard drive from a desktop computer in the Tower, a camera memory chip and several discs.

“He was obviously shocked,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Geoff Nicholls, the MOD police officer in charge of the investigation and one of the men who interviewed him.

“He was very polite, compliant and very gentlemanly in the way that he both received us and dealt with us.

He was open and frank with his answers and readily gave us what we requested of him.”

By early January, the computer equipment had been analysed and it became apparent to investigating officers that a second interview with Commodore White would be required.

“At that stage there were no substantive criminal offences,” Mr Nicholls told the inquest.

“In fact, nothing further would be known without the clarification of that [second] interview.”

At about the same time, however, senior military staff decided to reappoint Commodore White away from his command in Gibraltar after learning that news of the ongoing probe had leaked beyond the team of investigating officers. They feared an adverse media reaction and concluded that his position was becoming untenable.

On January 7, Vice Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent, the 2nd Sea Lord, phoned Commodore White to inform him of the decision and advise him to leave Gibraltar that weekend.

"I do believe that David’s mental state collapsed at 5.15pm on that Friday evening,” Mr White told the inquest.

“I think that he was in a catatonic state, incapable of making any rational decisions and I think that he was still in that state when he went out for a walk on Saturday afternoon [January 8th].”

Commodore White was last seen alive by Colonel Thomas Camp, Chief of Staff in Gibraltar at the time, about 90 minutes before his body was found fully clothed and face down at the bottom of the swimming pool at around 4.15pm on January 8th.

The Commodore had looked “weary and distracted” Colonel Camp told the inquest.

Squadron Leader Nigel Forshaw, the Commodore’s military assistant who had been ordered to assist with his arrangements to return to the UK that weekend, found the body. Military and police officers who arrived at the scene shortly after found nothing to suggest foul play.

Peter Jerreat, a Home Office pathologist, said the Commodore’s body displayed numerous bruises and grazes but none that could account for his death, suggesting that he may have fallen over a number of times before he drowned.

A post mortem on Commodore White showed 61 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood – which is under the UK drink-drive limit – but also showed levels of the sedative Zoplicon that were “higher than normal for therapeutic use.”

“This could have caused impairment of coordination and impaired judgement,” Dr Jerreat said. “Death was clearly due to drowning,” he concluded.

It was evident throughout the inquest yesterday that the people close to Commodore White held him in high regard. Several witnesses described him as a ‘perfect gentleman’, an officer who had devoted his life to the Royal Navy.

“He was very calm, well spoken, very correct and well educated,” said Karen Ressa, his house manager.

The current Commander British Forces, Commodore Allan Adair, had been a friend for 25 years and Commodore White was godfather to one of his sons.

“This was a tragic sequence of events with a tragic conclusion,” said Vice Admiral Sir James in a statement read out to the court.

“His death was a great loss to us all.”

Mr White told the inquest that his brother had just four years left before retirement and had been considering settling down in Gibraltar.

“He was seriously thinking about retiring here and buying a flat,” he told the inquest.

“There were all kinds of things he liked about Gibraltar.”

Commodore White was born in London in 1954 and brought up in Kent. He was educated at Eton and travelled the world for two years before joining the Royal Navy as a Seaman Officer in 1973. He had a long and distinguished career, including a stint as an officer on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

As a submariner he commanded HMS Torbay during the 1990 Gulf War and was later Captain 2nd command of Trafalgar Class submarines in 2001 prior to his appointment as Gibraltar’s Commander British Forces on May 7th, 2004.

Commodore White was single and lived alone at his Mount Barbary residence, in the exclusive area of Mount Road.

The inquest continues today and coroner Charles Pitto is expected to record his verdict this morning.

Related Articles and Links:

Operation Ore

The Children's Society

Internet Watch Foundation

28 September 2005 - Police appeal for information on 'suspicious' death

21 June 2005 - Jury finds neglect in Nunez Inquest

11 January 2005 - Military Chief expresses shock and grief

14 January 2005 - Post Mortem in Commander British Forces Case - Commodore White drowned

Police identify man found dead in Ocean Height

Post mortem inconclusive

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) said a post mortem carried out yesterday on the body found at Ocean Heights last Monday had proved inconclusive.

The development came as they released a photograph of the dead man and named him as Michael Edward Fenton, born on July 22nd, 1965.

Mr Fenton was born in Gibraltar but had spent most of his life in Australia. He had returned to the Rock toward the end of last year.

The post mortem was carried out at St Bernard’s Hospital by Doctor Peter Jerreat, a Home Office pathologist.

“The results of the post mortem at this stage are inconclusive and [we] await further medical analysis in the UK,” the RGP said in a statement.

The RGP is continuing with its investigation into the death of Mr Fenton, which is still being treated as suspicious. Police have appealed for anyone who may have known him to contact them at New Mole House police station on 75465 or 72500. Officers also want to speak to anyone who may have seen him between September 19th and September 26th this year.

Caruana and Pons to meet in Malaga

Chief Minister Peter Caruana accompanied by Chief Secretary, Ernest Montado, will meet the Spanish Government’s Director General for Foreign Affairs, Jose Pons for lunch today in Malaga, a Gibraltar Government spokesman said.

“This meeting as on previous occasions will be in preparation for the next round of trilateral talks which will be taking place in mid-October,” he added.

King’s Bastion £1m demolition

The demolition of the modern buildings inside the King’s Bastion has now been completed, a spokesman for the Ministry for Heritage said yesterday.

All structures of historical significance, as advised by the Heritage Trust, have been retained.

The spokesman continued:

“Demolition works will now move to the Generating Station building and the top added floor of the barrack block facing Line Wall Road. This will commence on Monday 10th October and end on Friday 2nd December.

Prior to commencement of the demolition the surrounding area will be isolated, and a new temporary road will be provided through the Naval Ground No1 to access Reclamation Road from Queensway.

During the demolition works temporary traffic arrangements will, from time to time, be required. These will be separately announced in the press. The total cost of the demolition is about £1 million.

In the meantime, design work of the leisure centre is at an advanced stage and it is expected that construction will commence in the New Year. Details about the Leisure Centre itself will be announced later this Autumn.”

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Red tape and over-regulation could threaten growth, KilIick tells Bankers

Finance centre fears * by Peter Schirmer

Mr Marcus Killick - FSI Chairman and Commissioner
Gibraltar’s finance sector continued to strengthen, expand and deepen, but we remain vulnerable to external factors over which we have no control and it would be foolish to express “mindless optimism” about the future, Financial Services Commissioner Marcus Killick warned yesterday.

He told the third annual conference of the Gibraltar Bankers’ Association that “whatever the strength of our finance centre itself - and it is strong - we are vulnerable to the actions of others.”

“Few would have predicted two years ago oil at above $60 a barrel,” he said. “We forget the power of Mother Nature at our peril. The success of Gibraltar is entwined with the world economy. Therefore whilst we can take pride in what has been achieved, we must redouble our efforts for the future.” And he added that the FSC would continue “to support and supplement such efforts rather than inhibit them”.

Killick has long been an advocate of efficient and effective regulation at all levels rather than heavy doses of unwieldy regulation accompanied by the inevitable bureaucratic red tape which accompanies heavy-handed implementation.

In a wide-ranging address Killick told the conference – whose theme was “Working in Partnership” - that too much red tape, the burdens of excessive EU directives and the growth of bureaucracy and greater regulation could stifle growth and initiative.

“Some including myself consider that the pendulum has swung too far,” he said.

"Those involved in banking - indeed in any senior corporate positions - have never been under greater scrutiny and, some might argue, greater threat… Nor does one have to physically be in the USA to come under its gaze. The use of the new UK Extradition Act on alleged white collar criminals demonstrates this.”

While fines of firms in Britain and America continued, the question remained of whether corporate fraudsters deserved sentences longer than rapists, however larger the amount they were alleged to have defrauded from investors.

"I would like to see, not more regulation but better regulation, regulation that is needed and fit for purpose,” he continued, pointing out that over the past two decades the financial community has moved from self regulation – “described by some as the ‘regulation of financial markets by the practitioners for the practitioners’” - to volume upon volume of detailed proscriptive requirements. There had to be a better way, he argued.

“Unfortunately the plethora of EU Directives… means that we do not have room for manoeuvre, in the way I would like.

Hopefully the change in tone in Brussels regarding regulation may mean the growth will stop and maybe even go into reverse. I would prefer fewer regulations, for in my view people generally know when they are doing best by their client. One can generally sense test by one simple question:

“Would I be happy if I was being treated in the way I am treating this customer?

"The same question could be put in management in relation to your staff and your colleagues,” he told the bankers. If the answer is ‘no’, you have to then consider whether what you are doing is the right thing, and, if so, you are doing it in the right way.

“Yet we do have some opportunity to set our regulatory stall out in a different way.

Firstly by accepting you can be pro business and pro consumer.

Secondly that the relationship between regulator and regulated can be based on trust rather than hostility.

The key issue is one of culture. Good ethics means more than just ticking boxes. We all want a safe, transparent and efficient financial sector in Gibraltar which protects both consumers and the integrity of the market.

This can be achieved by cooperation and understanding between the finance industry, the regulator and the Government."

Referring obliquely to the relationship between the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and Government, Killick said that the word “independence” was rapidly turning into a mantra, to be chanted by some regulators at every available opportunity.

“Of course regulators must be operationally independent, as indeed we are. Of course there is always room for improvement. Of course that independence must be codified and protected. Yet independence, like the Fellowship of the Ring, does not sit by itself, it is part of a trilogy. It comes with scrutiny and accountability. These siblings do not restrict independence; they make sure independence is used effectively, efficiently and appropriately. Like Tolkein’s books they work best as a set.”

Killick added that the FSC would continue to implement and enhance its risk based approach.

“We are aware that inefficiency in one partner impacts the others to the detriment of Gibraltar as a whole. We will also continue to build the strength of an already, internationally recognised regulatory team at the Commission through our participation in the pilot Investors in People programme.”

RG: Largest scale Battalion exercise ever

Exercise Jebel Sahara * from Alice Mascarenhas in Jebel Sahara, Marrakech

Troops preparing to embark on Pumas of 33 Sqn during Exercise Jebel Sahara, a bilateral exercise between the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and the Moroccan Armed Forces in October 2004In extreme climatic conditions and severe bone-dry arid terrain The Royal Gibraltar Regiment has just completed the largest scale battalion exercise ever in its history in the High Atlas Mountains and in the outskirts of Marrakech in Exercise Jebel Sahara.

A conduct challenging and realistic exercise, this is as close as it gets to a real war scenario, and has tested the regiment at an individual level from the Commanding Officer to every regular soldier through to the TA which has been in Morocco for the first time, and just as importantly has tested how the battalion as a whole works under pressure in acute desert conditions.

33 Squadron's Pumas go hot and high during Operation Jebel Sahara 2004This joint exercise has seen support from throughout the British army and the RAF deploying Chinook and Puma helicopters which has proven paramount in the movement of troops, supplies and ammunition, over the past few weeks, and has also had the full co-operation of the Moroccan Army with their BIP parachute troops forming a large part of the exercise. Also here are the medics, the chefs, range team, shovel unit and entire logistics unit.

Commanding Officer Mark Randall said the exercise had been orchestrated to meet mandated standards whilst at the same time developing unit cohesion, enhancing procedures as well as efficiency.

Its architect has been Major John Perez the next CO of the regiment and has included several exercises such as Tarik Warrior, Mountain Viper and Desert Strike, all held in very different locations testing every aspect of the soldier in such an operation. In all the exercise has seen some 500 people involved with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment being 250 strong.

Now in its sixth year Jebal Sahara has evolved into a very large scale exercise within the British Army. The theme for this year was offensive operation which is part of the new mission of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. The weeks of training and sheer determination on the part of many, has lead to its success with the regiment, meeting its objectives as a battalion in a modern British Army.

Date for Tripartite Talks confirmed

The next round of Tripartite Talks will be held on October 10th and 11th at an as yet undisclosed location in Spain, official sources have confirmed.

Gibraltar’s delegation will be led by Chief Minister Peter Caruana while Britain and Spain will be represented by Director for Europe Dominick Chilcott and his Spanish counterpart Jose Pons.

It had been speculated that this meeting would be a fully blown three-way ministerial meeting and that an airport agreement would be announced. However there are still issues to be resolved that require further discussion and no British or Spanish minister will be attending. A breakthrough on the airport at this point is therefore unlikely. A full ministerial meeting is on the cards for some time in November.

For its part in a brief statement the Gibraltar Government said that “the formal announcement of venue and other details for the next meeting of the trilateral forum envisaged for mid October will be made by the Spanish Government, as hosts.” However it did confirm that a meeting of the Pensions Technical Group between delegations of the UK, Spanish and Gibraltar Governments will take place in the UK today.

“This Technical Working Group, is established between the three governments under the Trilateral Forum. The Gibraltar delegation comprises of Chief Secretary Ernest Montado, and Director of Social Security, Mario Gomila.”

CBF Inquest opens today

• Pathologist also called in to Ocean Heights Case

The Home Office pathologist due to give evidence today at the inquest into the death of Commodore David White, the former Commander British Forces in Gibraltar, will also carry out the post mortem on the dead man found in Ocean Heights on Monday.

Dr Peter Jerreat, a forensic pathologist with over 28 years experience, is no stranger to Gibraltar and has worked here a number of times this year alone.

He carried out the post mortem on Commodore White last January after the former CBF was found dead in the pool at his Mount Barbary residence. The examination concluded that the Royal Navy officer had drowned.

Dr Jerreat also carried out a post mortem on Clive Nuñez, a local man who died in police custody, and gave evidence at his inquest earlier this year.

Ocean Heights Body

Investigations into the death of a 40-year old man whose body was found in a flat in Ocean Heights continue, though police have not released any new information relating to the incident. The man’s name has not been made public pending formal identification by his next of kin, who are travelling to Gibraltar from the UK. But the Chronicle understands that, although he had lived away from the Rock for many years, the man had a local family connection.

The post mortem to be conducted by Dr Jerreat will be vital in order to establish the exact cause of death.

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) is treating the death as suspicious.

Related Article:

28 September 2005 - Police appeal for information on 'suspicious' death

21 June 2005 - Jury finds neglect in Nunez Inquest

11 January 2005 - Military Chief expresses shock and grief

14 January 2005 - Post Mortem in Commander British Forces Case - Commodore White drowned

Violent robbery in Main Street

Police officers are investigating reports of a violent robbery in Main Street in the early hours of last Sunday.

Three men are said to have approached a local man at around 3am and demanded money. They then punched him repeatedly before making off with an unknown amount of cash.

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) has descriptions of the alleged assailants and investigations into the incident continue.

More Juveniles Arrested for Burglary

Two juveniles were arrested at the scene of a burglary in progress at the Oasis Shop in Sir William Jackson Grove.

Police officers responding to a call from a resident found the two juveniles inside the shop at around 4am last Wednesday morning. They were detained pending further investigation.

Man Sectioned

In a separate incident, a man was sectioned to the King George V mental hospital after he was detained inside a residence in Humphries Bungalows. Police are awaiting medical reports and the investigation remains open.

GibraItar Government announce contingency plans for bird flu pandemic

Concern that virus could spread

A Bird Market in Beijing China - Avian Influenza or Bird Flu as much a concern in Gibraltar as it is throughout EuropeThe possibility of the Bird Flu virus spreading to Europe from the Far East is the latest health hazard European Governments are having to contend with, and the local one is no exception.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Health said it had secured the purchase in large quantities of the anti viral drugs that are prescribed to combat this infectious disease.

A Ministry of Health spokesman said:

“As a consequence of the possibility of the Bird Flu virus spreading to Europe from the Far East, partly along bird migratory routes, and the possibility of a pandemic developing, the Government is following World Health Organisation recommendations to stockpile antiviral drugs in suitable quantities.

An order has been placed for the drug Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) which is manufactured by Roche and is the drug of choice against this virus in most countries. Although a world-wide shortage of Oseltamivir is already beginning to occur, as countries begin stockpiling large quantities of the drug as part of their own contingency planning, the Government has been able to obtain a manufacturing slot.

A pandemic is defined as a large-scale outbreak of disease occurring over a wide geographic area across the world and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”

Related Articles and Links:

WHO Avian Influenza Pandemic Threat Recommendations

Avian Influenza - FAQs

NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) UK - Factsheets on Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) Vaccine

Roche Laboratories Inc. - Tamiflu

World Health Organisation

Trenchant departure leaves political quarrel in its wake

Nuclear sub controversy

Nuclear submarine visits continue to be a sensitive subject in the region and has provoked the latest cross-border row between Chief Minister Peter Caruana and the Spanish Government delegate in Andalusia Juan Jose Lopez Garzon.

Reacting to earlier remarks by Sr Garzon that Spain was negotiating a written assurance from Britain to limit the visit of nuclear vessels to the Rock, Mr Caruana said there was “no truth” to that statement. Mr Caruana said:

“The British Government has confirmed to the Gibraltar Government that there is no truth to that statement and that HMG would not contemplate any such agreement.”

Speaking to the Chronicle a Convent Place spokesman said:

“The Gibraltar Government takes note of Sr Garzon’s statement that ‘the UK and Spanish Governments are negotiating a formal agreement to limit nuclear submarine visits to Gibraltar to emergency situations only.’

Nuclear submarine visits to Gibraltar are a matter for UK and Gibraltar. Visits for operational or recreational purposes are welcome by the Gibraltar Government. But in any case, the complaints emanating from some quarters in Spain about HMS Trenchant’s visit are completely irrational and incoherent given the use made of Spanish ports by nuclear powered submarines and ships.

It may be that this gentleman (Spanish Government’s Delegate to Andalucia) is confused between visits and repairs.

To our knowledge, it is not the position of the present Spanish Government or any previous Spanish Government, that it is opposed to visits by nuclear submarines. It is therefore not clear why he thinks the Spanish Government would want or need such an agreement. We welcome HMG’s confirmation that the use of Gibraltar by British and allied nuclear powered warships is not the subject of any negotiations for an agreement between UK and Spain.

However the Gibraltar Government continues to support the provision of information about visits and reassurances about safety to the Spanish Government on the basis of good neighbourliness.”

Nuclear Sub ‘fuels’ more debate in Spain

The Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant slipped quietly out of port yesterday morning, but left in its wake a lingering political controversy.

The submarine’s routine four-day visit re-ignited Spanish concerns over visits by British nuclear powered submarines to the Rock. Since its arrival in Gibraltar last Saturday, politicians and environmentalists in Spain have voiced clear opposition to the presence of HMS Trenchant here.

The central government’s representative in Andalusia, Juan José López Garzón, said in Seville this week that he was confident the Foreign Affairs Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) would continue seeking written assurances from the UK that submarines would only call at Gibraltar for humanitarian reasons or in emergencies.

Others, particularly opposition politicians, were less accepting and sharply criticised the visit.

The Spanish government confirmed early this week that it had been informed of the submarine’s call prior to its arrival.

Commander H D Beard Royal Navy - Captain of HMS Trenchant
Spanish newspapers in the region have given ample coverage to the arrival of HMS Trenchant and the political sniping that it generated. But they all missed one interesting, if largely insignificant, detail. According to the Royal Navy’s official website, the submarine’s captain, Commander Hugh Beard, started his career as a submariner on board HMS Tireless, a vessel with which critics of these visits are all too familiar.

Related Articles:

28 September 2005 - FCO responds to submarine comments made by Spanish Government representatives

28 September 2005 - Spain declares war on nuclear vessels in Gibraltar - but not in Spain!

28 September 2005 - Juarez criticises lack of 'home' info on Submarine arrival

27 September 2005 - Nuclear powered submarine HMS Trenchant visits Gibraltar

27 September 2005 - Spanish ecologists protest against docking of British nuclear submarine

View Images in our Gibraltar Pictures Gallery

Union raise “discrimination" in sick leave entitlements

TGWU/ACTS has drawn attention to the issue of sick leave entitlements for private sector workers criticising that these should be inferior to what workers in the public sector get.

In a statement yesterday they also expressed concern about the non-acceptance of Moroccan sick leave certificates in the private sector.

The Union has written to the Labour Advisory Board outlining its position on these matters and says it will do its utmost “to eradicate what it considers to be discriminatory practices.”

The board includes representatives from the Chamber (Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce), GFSB (Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses), GTC (Gibraltar Trades Council) and Government.

TGWU Branch Officer Charles Sisarello said:

“We have submitted proposals for discussion in the board on these two problems that seriously affect our members working in this sector. We want employees who are hospitalised, undergo surgery, sponsored patients etc, to be entitled to special sick leave over and above the legally established minimum of two weeks at full pay and four weeks at half pay.

Many of our members and their families suffer financial hardship, when they find themselves in that situation. This only affects private sector employees as in the public sector they are entitled to six months at full pay and 26 weeks at half pay.

The other issue of concern is the non-acceptance in many private sector establishments of Moroccan sick notes, despite the fact that they are issued by the Moroccan Health Authority. Official employers have no problem in accepting this requirement but in the private sector this is not the case. Again for a different reason, our Moroccan members find themselves at a disadvantage with their counterparts in the public sector.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

WBC President expected today

Jose Sulaiman the Mexican president of the World Boxing Council is expected to land in Gibraltar today to take part in the 43rd annual convention of the sport’s ruling body at the brand new ‘Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones’ in La Linea between 2nd-8th October.

A spokesman for the ayuntamiento that is hosting the event, highlighted the importance of the occasion and said it would give La Linea an opportunity for major international promotion.

Related Articles and Links:

20 September 2005 - WBC Convention in La Linea next month

26 August 2005 - Another major International organisation confused about Gibraltar's whereabouts!

Technical talks to be resumed on Thursday, says Europa Press

Spanish pensions issue

Technical discussions on the Spanish pensions issue involving officials from UK, Spain and Gibraltar – along the lines of the tripartite forum – are planned to take place in London tomorrow according to a report by Europa Press aency.

This was subsequently separately confirmed by both The Convent and Convent Place yesterday.

The local delegation will be represented by Chief Secretary Ernest Montado and official Mario Gomila.

Meanwhile Spain is believed to be keen to clinch a pensions deal before the next round of ministerial talks within the Tripartite Forum scheduled for the autumn.

London is expected to be the final technical opportunity for progress on the pensions before the Forum meets. And Spain’s objective according to diplomatic sources in Madrid, is for a three-way political agreement on pensions before the autumn reunion, to end years of conflict over this issue.

In 2004 the contentious pensions bill was reportedly estimated at 36 million euros. ALPEG the former Spanish workers pressure group, claim approximately 6,000 euros in arrears for each of their 5-6,000 surviving members. Additionally their demand is for payment of updated pensions. Aged between 70 and 80 it is believed that at least 1,700 pensioners have already passed away.

President Manuel García Bado argued that although the responsibility for paying was Britain’s, the Spanish Government would also have to sign the agreement and contribute a part of the money that is owed to them. This would be part recognition that it had been the Spanish Government at the time of General Franco, who had withdrawn the labour force after closing the frontier with Gibraltar in 1969.

Similar remarks about a symbolic financial contribution by Spain toward a solution to the problem have been mooted by PSOE Senator Jose Carracao. “Such a gesture would be decisive for UK to assume its responsibility,” he said. Sr Carracao further estimates the total pensions bill at 25-30 million euros.

Europa Press Report

The Europa Press report quoting UK diplomatic sources said:

“The Governments of Spain, UK and Gibraltar intend to tackle the issue of the discrimination suffered by Spanish pensioners in Gibraltar during technical talks to be held in London on Thursday.

The tripartite forum set up in 2004 has concentrated on Gibraltar related issues and has carried out negotiations on the airport, the isthmus, frontier flow, the Spanish pensions and Gibraltar telecommunications. All three sides recognised at their meeting in Portugal last July, that the pensions issue was very important and highly sensitive given the advanced age of those affected.

All sides are conscious of their own positions and the distance that separates them especially after UK had rejected in June, the European Commission’s arguments on March 16th at the opening of infraction proceedings of the case.

Gibraltar provides its pensioners an additional financial support on retirement for women over 60 and men over 65, through a private charity institution funded by the local authorities. But, as Brussels was able to confirm, this assistance is only given to former workers who are permanently resident in Gibraltar, as a supplement to their pension.”

Police appeal for information on 'suspicious' death

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) has appealed to the public for any information relating to the death of a man whose badly decomposed body was found in a first floor flat in Ocean Heights on Monday.

The move came as the RGP confirmed that it was treating the death as suspicious at this stage in its investigation.

Yesterday, officers were posted on guard outside the door to the flat and at the mortuary in the hospital.

“The Criminal Investigation Department of the RGP can confirm that they are investigating the death of a 40-year old male who was found within his residence at Ocean Heights on Monday afternoon in circumstances which are deemed to be suspicious at this early stage of the investigation,” the RGP said in a statement.

A Home Office pathologist will be travelling to Gibraltar from the UK to carry out a post mortem on Thursday, a usual response in this type of case. The man’s next of kin are also travelling to Gibraltar from the UK. His identity has not been released pending their arrival and formal identification procedures.

“An incident room has been set up at New Mole House police station and the public are asked to ring 75465 or the control room on 72500 if they have any information concerning the investigation,” the RGP statement added. “Further information will be released in due course.”

Grieving family stress concern over smoking culture at KGV

• Doctors ‘not heeding mental patients as they should’ – claim parents

The parents of a 35-year old woman who died of lung cancer have alleged “serious shortcomings” in the care she received from the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA), in particular during her time as a patient in the King George V mental hospital.

Mario and Violeta Apap said their daughter Geraldine became a chain smoker while she was a patient at the KGV.

They claim that she was encouraged to smoke as a way of passing time and, although there is no evidence that her cancer was caused by smoking, describe this as “a serious failing”.

In a letter to this newspaper, they also maintain that not enough credence was given to her complaints of pain because she was a long-term mental patient with a history of complex medical problems.

Between November last year and March this year, doctors carried out several X-rays and tests on Miss Apap. Early this year they diagnosed pneumonia but the cancer, one of the most aggressive types known, was only detected after Miss Apap’s condition deteriorated and a CT scan was carried out. She died on April 19th, just over a month later.

Mr and Mrs Apap believe their daughter’s life might have been prolonged, perhaps even saved, had doctors conducted the scan and detected the cancer at an earlier stage, as they had urged.

“We believe if she had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier there would have been a real chance of her being treated successfully or living longer,” they write in today’s Chronicle.

“We further believe that if she had not been a KGV patient her complaints would have been listened to by the doctors more closely.

We therefore are firmly of the view that our daughter’s medical treatment suffered because she was a mental patient.

That is unacceptable and a situation that must never be repeated.”

The GHA, in common with other health authorities, does not comment publicly on individual cases. But an investigation into a complaint filed by the family of Miss Apap concluded that doctors and staff had acted properly throughout this case. In its response to the Apap family, the authority said that Geraldine had been urged to smoke less while she was at the KGV. It also highlighted that chest X-rays carried out late in November 2004 showed no abnormality in Miss Apap’s lung.

The GHA investigation also found that even if the CT scan had been carried out at an earlier date, the eventual outcome would have been the same. The initial reluctance to carry out a scan, the GHA added, was because of the high radiation dose that patients undergoing such tests are exposed to.

An independent medical source contacted by the Chronicle backed that assessment and said such scans would only be carried after other avenues of diagnosis had been exhausted.

Although the GHA has defended the actions of its staff in this case, there is an underlying acceptance of the need to improve many aspects of mental health services in Gibraltar.

In its response to the Apap family, the GHA said it was currently conducting a review of these services to move from an institutional approach to mental healthcare to a more therapeutic approach.

Juarez criticises lack of 'home' info on Submarine arrival

Mayor of La Línea Juan Carlos Juárez has said he found out about the arrival to Gibraltar of the nuclear submarine HMS Trenchant through the newspapers.

Sr Juarez also criticised the Spanish Foreign Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) for “not officially informing the mayor of the city closest to the British colony,” about the arrival of the vessel.

The mayor also reiterated the unpopularity of these visits in the Campo area.

Related Article:

27 September 2005 - Nuclear powered submarine HMS Trenchant visits Gibraltar

CEPSA expands operations in the Campo

The Spanish Oil Refinery CEPSA is planning expansion of its operations in the Campo de Gibraltar area of the Bay of GibraltarSpanish oil company Cepsa refinery plans to expand its refinery in the Campo de Gibraltar as part of a broader investment plan worth 1.2 billion Euros.

The company said it would build a new vacuum distillation unit and upgrade the existing mild hydrocracker conversion unit at its local refinery in order to increase production of fuels such as kerosene and diesel, known in the industry as ‘middle distillates’.

Additional expansion is also envisaged at the company’s ‘La Rabida’ refinery in Huelva.

Once complete, Cepsa’s total distillation capacity will exceed 25 million tons of crude oil per year, which will increase middle distillate production by 2.7 million tons per year.

The move is largely in response to a growing shortage of kerosene and diesel on the European petroleum product market, and which in Spain’s case requires importing 13 million tons of these products annually.

Cepsa will also earmark funds towards enhancing energy efficiency at its refineries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and adapt its facilities to the European Union’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, increasing the production of raw materials for its petrochemicals segment and optimising its productive processes, the company said in a statement.

Related Links and Articles:

The Environmental Safety Group (ESG)

17 June 2005 - Bay Bucket Brigade visit the Andalucian Ombudsman

27 May 2005 - Junta intensifies efforts to combat Campo Pollution

25 May 2005 - CEPSA emissions within the Law - Confirmed

24 May 2005 - BBB responds to confusion on Benzene level limits

18 May 2005 - IU express concern in Andalusian Parliament

13 May 2005 - CSIC report confirms high levels of pollutants in the Bay of Gibraltar

The Iberian Peninsula and its peopling by Hominids

The sixth Iberian Quaternary Congress was officially opened by Fabian Vinet, Minister for Heritage, Culture, Youth and Sport, at the John Mackintosh Hall on Monday.

The meeting opened with a keynote speech by Professor Jose Sebastian Carrion of the University of Murcia.

Professor Carrion’s Presentation highlighted the role of the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula as a refugium for plant and animal species during the glaciations of the last two million years. He drew on evidence from Gibraltar to highlight the key importance of the Rock in these studies.

The morning session concentrated on physical geography and geology. Of particular interest was a paper by Prof. Joaquin Rodriguez Vidal of the University of Huelva. For the first time the geological record of the Rock was contrasted with that of Jbel Musa in Morocco. Gibraltar and Jbel Musa share the same geological history, being distinct and separate from their respective hinterlands.

The afternoon session, devoted to biological processes, included four presentations from the Gibraltar Research Group. The first by Richard Jennings of Oxford University, examined the impact of climate change on the human occupation of southern Iberia, including Gibraltar.

Professor Clive Finlayson presented a study of the extinction processes of species in southern Iberia, highlighting the importance of Gibraltar as a refugium.

Geraldine Finlayson presented an innovative method in which she reconstructed in fine detail the habitat of the Neanderthals outside Gorham’s Cave. Finally Kimberly Brown, a Gibraltarian working for her Phd in Cambridge University presented the basis of a high-resolution study that seeks to understand the diet and foraging behaviour of the Neanderthals in Gorham’s Cave.

The meeting continued yesterday with a field trip to Gibraltar sites.

Related Article and Links:

The Gibraltar Museum Website

What is the Quaternary

What are Hominids

03 September 2005 - Stunning painting discovered in Gorham Cave’s secret chamber

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Decomposed body discovered at Ocean Heights

Coroner’s investigation

by Brian Reyes and Dominique Searle

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) has so far declined to rule out as 'suspicious' the death of a man whose body was found in a first floor apartment in Ocean Heights yesterday.

Police teams were last night working at the scene but the body was so badly decomposed that only a forensic pathologist will be able to establish the cause of death.

A member of the building's cleaning staff discovered the body at around lunchtime, according to people on the scene. Witnesses described a strong smell of decay as the body was taken from the apartment late yesterday afternoon, confirming that the man had been dead for some time. The corpse was removed in a black body bag by police officers wearing protective clothing and breathing masks.

One person who works in the building said the man, who has not been identified, was in his 30s and was not believed to be local, though there has been no official confirmation of this so far.

Coroner Charles Pitto attended the scene alongside officers from the Royal Gibraltar Police and the ambulance personnel. The Coroner, who is charged with investigating deaths in unusual circumstances, will be seeking to establish whether the cause of death was natural or otherwise.

Madrid ‘informed’ of HMS Trenchant visit

• PP Protest at mancomunidad

HMS Turbulent S87 'Trafalgar' class nuclear powered submarine, the same class as HMS Trenchant who docked in Gibraltar this weekend causing a storm of protests from Spanish ecologist groups, approaching Gibraltar from the western mediterranean
A Royal Navy submarine, HMS Trenchant, arrived in Gibraltar on Saturday for a routine visit for a few days after taking part in an exercise in the North Atlantic.

But the PP in the Mancomunidad de Municipios expressed its “unease” at the arrival of the submarine on the Rock.

In a statement, the party said that the development pointed to flaws in the tripartite forum and condemned Juan Montedeoca, the socialist president of the Mancomunidad.

“It is lamentable that this should happen at a time when they are talking about excellent relations with Caruana,” said Alejandro Sanchez, the party spokesman.

He said he could not understand why senior PSOE politicians in the region were silent “when they have made a lot of noise” over previous visits.

“The PP intends to present a motion to the next session of the Mancomunidad calling for an end to the presence of nuclear submarines in Gibraltar."

Meanwhile according to Europa Press, UK had informed Spain about the presence in Gibraltar of the nuclear submarine on a routine visit. Quoting a spokesman at the Spanish Foreign Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE), it said that Madrid had been informed “through the habitual channels.”

The visit has been criticised by Campo environmentalist groups such as Verdemar.

According to other press reports, last month the Spanish Government said it was still waiting for Britain to express in writing “a commitment London had made four years ago to end visits by British nuclear submarines to Gibraltar”, although “Madrid had recognised that the territory’s interior waters were ceded by Spain to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.”

Madrid expressed the hope that Britain, as an EU ally, would seek “to guarantee the security of the people who live in the area.”

In May 2001, the then Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique said his British counterpart Robin Cook had told him nuclear repairs to British submarines in Gibraltar would cease.

However there have been several such visits since, including last February by HMS Sceptre for maintenance, an arrival that drew a formal protest from Madrid and a complaint from Gibraltar, whose authorities said they were “not told in advance of the visit.”

Britain says Gibraltar provides an important support facility for maintenance and several other submarines have docked there in recent years.

HMS Trenchant is a Trafalgar class nuclear propelled submarine built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering in Barrow-in-Furness. It was launched on 3 Nov 1986 and commissioned on 14 Jan 1989. The submarine was previously in Gibraltar last year.

No job shortages in Gibraltar, says Holliday

Minister responds to Chronicle letter

There is currently no shortage of jobs in Gibraltar.

That is the view as stated by DTI Minister Joe Holliday in response to a Chronicle Letter to the Editor.

Mr Holliday states that there is in fact a shortage of labour, with employers in many sectors complaining to Government that they cannot recruit labour in Gibraltar to meet their growing needs.

In the letter Mr Holliday also takes up John Guy’s personal point about his son’s employment and makes public records related to his unemployment.

Beautification scheme announced

Gibraltar Government has announced the commencement of a major scheme for the beautification and refurbishment of Chatham Counterguard, Orange and Montagu Bastions, Fish Market Road, Market Place and the Public Market.

Phase One of this major new road and urban renewal scheme that encompasses the area from Regal House to the car park in Fish Market Road, was put out to tender yesterday, a Government spokesman said. He continued:

“Phase One involves the following:

(1) Demolishing all buildings within Chatham Counterguard (previously occupied by Gibmaroc);

(2) Creating a new road through Chatham Counterguard, to link Reclamation Road to Fish Market Road. This will provide an alternative route to the northern areas of Gibraltar, and thus decongest Queensway, Waterport Roundabout and Glacis Road.

(3) Siting of a roundabout at the Irish Town end of Fish Market Road;

(4) Reconfiguration and provision of more parking spaces at Fish Market Car Park.

(5) General street refurbishment, beautification, re-furnishing and landscaping.

Later Phases of the Scheme will include:

Fish Market Road from Ocean Heights to the Public Market (including the refurbishment of the Public Market)

Market Place (Plaza del Reloj)

Recovery of Orange Bastion at both Irish Town and Line Wall Road.

Phase One is expected to complete by July 2006.”

Gibraltar-Morocco yachting rally

GTB withdraws sponsorship

The 4th Gibraltar – Morocco rally will take place over the weekend of 30 September-3 October this year.

It is open to all sailing yachts and power cruisers.

Although the rally had previously been supported by sponsorship from the Gibraltar Tourist Board (GTB), this year the GTB “have withdrawn their sponsorship due to tightened budgets,” declared a spokesman for the rally organisers.

“We feel this is disappointing as this event has a wide appeal and will continue to grow. The local yachting community believes that Gibraltar has the potential to become the yachting destination of choice in the Mediterranean and this area of tourism is not exploited to its full potential,” he said.

The last rally, held in June attracted over twenty yachts, largely from the Gibraltar Marinas, however the organisers have now attracted yachts from other marinas on the Costa del Sol and now expect another fifteen visiting yachts to join the event.

As regards this year’s edition, the organisers said:

“As with previous rallies, the event will be friendly and informal, with the focus definitely on having fun with boats! The destination being the peaceful Marina Smir, Morocco.

The program begins with a skippers briefing in Marina Bay on Thursday evening before the massed start from the marina at 1200 on Friday.

This year there is a separate class for Motor cruisers, who can make their way quickly across the Straits. Yachts will be starting under sail, but they will be allowed to motor-sail for any length of time during the crossing, or choose to sail the whole way.

On arrival in Marina Smir, participants will be treated to a traditional Moroccan feast, with traditional Moroccan entertainment!

During Saturday several fun events will be held in the Marina and on the beach. A taxi will be permanently available during Saturday and Sunday for anyone wishing to do any sightseeing or shopping.

A barbeque will be held on Saturday night and the prize giving will take place at the same time.”

Organiser, Derek Pennington said it was his aim that every participating yacht should get some kind of prize, in one of the many categories from first yacht over the line to most sociable yacht, first dolphin sighting and best ships cocktail.
“The idea is mainly to have fun and include everyone,” he said.

On Sunday morning the marina will again be providing a Moroccan breakfast, then it’s another day at leisure or sightseeing trips to Tetouan, or the Caves of Hercules.

Some yachts will be leaving on Sunday but most will be departing after breakfast on Monday.

A guard boat has been arranged to follow the fleet, and a professional photographer will be on it to record the event, both on DVD and stills.

Anyone wishing to enter or having any questions should contact Mr Pennington on the yacht Sun Viking, pier 3, Marina Bay, tel no 0034 650549350 or email

Thai Ambassador calls on Deputy Chief Minister

Thailand’s Ambassador to London Vikrom KoompirochanaThailand’s Ambassador to London Vikrom Koompirochana yesterday paid a courtesy call on Deputy Chief Minister Joe Holliday at the DTI offices Europort.

Mr Koompirochana was on a familiarisation visit meeting with the local consular officer Mark Porral.

Meanwhile the Ambassador said he would like to use the opportunity to thank Gibraltar for its great generosity in the tsunami appeal.

New People apologises to Nick Cruz, no damages paid

Spanish TV report story

Nick Cruz who recently resigned from the executive committee of the GSD PartyThree and a half years after publishing a story prompted by a Valencia TV programme on Gibraltar the New People weekly newspaper has formally apologised to lawyer Nick Cruz stating that they accept that their article was defamatory of Mr Cruz and that there is “no substance to any allegation of money laundering or other wrongdoing on his part”.

There was no order as to costs.

A New People spokesman said that they accepted that they had not seen the whole video and confirmed that they continue to seek access to that.

In its original story the New People had claimed that an undercover report had exposed a local lawyer and bank and had gone on to identify Mr Cruz as the lawyer also saying he was an executive member of the GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats).

The newspaper declared that when it published the article it was not in the possession of the full facts and had only seen “the version of the video which was televised and had been edited.”

James Neish QC represented Mr Cruz and Gillian Guzman appeared for the New People.

Related Article:

16 September 2005 - Cruz quits party and ponders his political future

Weekend bomb scare halts border

The border was closed to cars and pedestrians for over an hour on Saturday as the RAF bomb squad carried out controlled explosions on two suitcases left unattended in the air terminal.

Long tailbacks could be seen in the approaches to the Spanish side of the frontier. There was also gridlock locally as all access to the airport and the border was sealed off, causing traffic chaos on Devil’s Tower Road and Winston Churchill Avenue.

The incident happened as passengers were arriving to check in for the evening flights to London. They were forced to evacuate the building until the area was made safe.

The incident turned out to be a false alarm, though the authorities stressed the need to remain vigilant.

Special Olympics 5-a-side

The Gibraltar Special Olympics five-a-side football team will compete in a new cross-border league that kicks off on October 1st.

The local side will compete against teams from La Linea de La Concepción, Tarifa, Ceuta and Barbate, with matches taking place fortnightly and teams playing each other twice, once away and once at home.

One of the drivers behind the initiative was the absence of the sport in this year’s Strait Games in Algeciras. The town has concentrated on athletics and no longer has a five-a-side football team.

“Every year we’ve had a five-a-side football tournament during the Strait Games but this year Algeciras decided not to include the sport,” said Jose Antonio Carracao, Ceuta’s representative on the league’s organising committee.

“The players were disappointed and it was hard to explain why it hadn’t happened this year.”

Annie Risso, president of Gibraltar Special Olympics, added:

“It’s turned out positively because instead of waiting to compete once a year, they’ll now be competing fortnightly.”

The league, both of them stressed, did not rule out future five-a-side football tournaments as part of the Strait Games.
The organising committee, comprised of representatives from Gibraltar, La Linea, Tarifa and Ceuta, will jointly purchase trophies for the winning sides.

Known as the ‘Strait League’, the initiative will offer players regular opportunities to employ their skills.

“It’s marvellous to watch the way that they play,” Mrs Risso said. “They are great experts.”

Travelling to other neighbouring towns is also part of the appeal, particularly when it comes to playing on the other side of the Strait.

“It will be attractive for the players too because they will get the trip out to Ceuta, so it’s an adventure,” Mr Carracao said.

The first matches will be between Barbate and Ceuta and Gibraltar and La Linea. The latter game will take place on October 8th because of a diary clash.

Details of future games are available online at, under League 9 in the recreational sport section. (Note: Page is not accessible.)

TGWU publish Pension Guide

TGWU has published a pension guide for Union members “and all working people in Gibraltar.”

This is part of a campaign by the Union to extend pension rights to all workers in the private sector not currently covered by a scheme.

In a statement issued yesterday, Branch Officer Charles Sisarello said the purpose of the report was to inform workers of the three main occupational pension schemes that exist locally and cover large numbers of staff.

“We hope this will assist them in assessing how much they will receive when they retire,” he said.

Mr Sisarello said employees in the private sector “are worse off as they do not have any occupational pensions, and their only income derives from the Social Insurance pension scheme and Community Care.” “To redress this deficit has become a Union objective,” said Mr Sisarello.

The three schemes that exist in Gibraltar are the Gibraltar Government Civil Service, the MoD and the Gibraltar Provident Trust 1 and 2 pension schemes.

Mr Sisarello added that it was in the construction, wholesale & retail, hotels and restaurants where the problem was greater.

“There are 5,000 workers employed in this sector who are discriminated regardless of nationality on the question of occupational pension rights,” added the Union Branch Officer.

Vinet opens ‘Quartenary’ Conference

Heritage Minister Fabian Vinet yesterday opened the VI Iberian Quartenary Meeting, a three-day conference that will bring together leading scientists and researchers from across Spain and Portugal, as well as Gibraltar.

The Quaternary is a subdivision of geological time that covers the last two million years up to the present day.

The theme this year is ‘The Iberian Peninsula and its Peopling by Hominids’, a subject that reflects international interest in human evolution and its dispersal through the Quartenary.

The series of lectures includes keynote speeches on flora and fauna in Iberia and a comparison of human evolution in north and south Europe. Other talks will examine the role of the Strait of Gibraltar as a bridge between two continents and specialist subjects such as climatic and geological change through the period.

Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar - Photo courtesy of this as a truly Iberian project Mr Vinet also commented on his visit to the excavation at Gorham’s Cave.

“Work here has expanded under the auspices of the Government of Gibraltar through the Gibraltar Museum. It is indeed the Government’s intention that this work will continue in the future as a major element of the scientific work that is carried out here. And it has been especially pleasing to see how various projects have materialised and evolved through co-operation between colleagues from Gibraltar, the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal, among many others.”

Delegates to the conference will also visit a number of sites in Gibraltar, including Gorham’s Cave.

Related Article and Links:

24 September 2005 - Gibraltar Museum host talk on 'The Iberian Peninsula and Hominids'

03 September 2005 - Stunning painting discovered in Gorham Cave’s secret chamber

What is the Quaternary

What are Hominids

Gibraltar Day in Seville!

Isla Magica is to stage a Gibraltar Day this weekend in Seville.

The theme park chief Antonio Pelaez Tore was in Gibraltar yesterday promoting the event.

Stylos will stage a dance at the event this Saturday where the Gibraltar flag will fly and films and literature on the Rock will be highlighted.

The whole day is dedicated to Gibraltar. The event was also staged last year.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Former AACR Minister joins GSLP to fight next election

George Mascarenhas returns to politics • “the GSD has become drunk with power,” he says

by Brian Reyes

George Mascarenhas, a former government minister with Sir Joshua Hassan’s AACR and a veteran of local politics, has joined the GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) and plans to present himself as a potential candidate for the party at the next general election.

Mr Mascarenhas has been a card-carrying member of the GSLP since June and last week attended his first meeting as a party activist.

“I intend to return to active politics,” he told the Chronicle.

“My plans are hopefully to be a candidate [at the next election], but of course that is in the hands of the party.”

The move will come as a surprise to many, not least because Mr Mascarenhas has in the past been highly critical of the party led by Joe Bossano. Neither does Mr Mascarenhas hide the fact that he has publicly supported the GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) in recent years – he said he voted GSD both in 1996 and in 2000 – though he never actually joined the party.

As an experienced politician who is clearly held in high regard, he also formed part of the External Affairs Advisory Council set up by Chief Minister Peter Caruana in 2001.

But Mr Mascarenhas left little doubt that he believes the GSD administration has lost its way on issues of fundamental importance to the local community. He decries the government’s extravagant expenditure, believes the latest low-cost housing initiatives amount to “too little too late” and describes the merger with Labour as “a disaster”. Above all, he has few complimentary words for Mr Caruana and repeatedly refers to “a clash of personalities” when he describes his past contacts with the Chief Minister.

“In my view, the GSD has become drunk with power,” Mr Mascarenhas said. “My political instincts tell me that the GSD is finished.”

“I think that the [GSLP/Liberals] alliance will win the next general election and I’m sure it’s going to be with a bigger margin than people are thinking.”

Mr Mascarenhas said he had spent the past three years mulling his options for a return to active politics. He considered forming a new party or joining the “now defunct” Labour Party, but those were two alternatives he quickly ruled out. In order to make a significant contribution, he concluded his only choice lay in the two major parties in Gibraltar.

“At the end of the day, my thinking and the GSLP thinking are nearer to each other than the GSD,” he said.

“I have now found that my natural home is the GSLP, as difficult as that might seem to a lot of people.

I have to be brave and I have to have the courage of my convictions, even if I’m going to be criticised, to do the right thing for Gibraltar.”

Mr Mascarenhas’ decision to join the GSLP is, in fact, something of a homecoming. He first started in politics by standing for election in 1976 alongside Mr Bossano and other candidates for the Gibraltar Democratic Movement, the predecessor of the GSLP. He was the GSLP’s first chairman, a post that he only held for a short period before he left to join the AACR in 1977.

He served as the AACR’s education minister under Sir Joshua Hassan, a post he held between 1984 and 1988, and then as a member of the House in opposition until 1992.

Even though he has not been involved as an active politician since then, Mr Mascarenhas remained a visible participant in local political debate. He made regular contributions in the broadcast and print media, as well as his role in the External Affairs Advisory Council.

The new GSLP member is bullish about his party’s prospects at the next election and about the role that he hopes to play. He believes his experience and reputation in the community will help regain some ground with voters in the centre of the political spectrum.

“The last opinion poll by Panorama put the GSLP ahead,” he said.

“I can say publicly today that my mission is to convert that lead into a landslide.”

Spain being ‘theoretically' nice to win Gibraltar, says Bossano

The setting up of the tripartite forum is for Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos an example to the United Nations of the “constructive spirit of Spain in its bilateral negotiations with UK.”

Joe Bossano - GSLP Leader of the OppositionThat was the view expressed by Joe Bossano Opposition Leader in a radio interview with GBC (Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation) this weekend.

Mr Bossano said that from the beginning what Spain was persuaded by the UK and what the tripartite forum is about “is that they were never going to be able to achieve what they want over Gibraltar unless they were able to woo the Gibraltarians.” He said that this was the policy that has been the line that London has tried to sell to Madrid for 35 years.

“What the tripartite, from Spain’s perspective is about, is about reducing the tension which is the result from the restrictions which they could have reduced at anytime they wanted without asking for anything in exchange.

The theory is that the removing the restrictions our flights, on our position in the EU, on the finance centre, on telephone … would create a climate more propitious to our being more receptive to a bilateral deal cooked up between them and London.”

London had argued, he said, that Spain could hardly be favourably disposed to a deal on sovereignty when they are being nasty to us.

Mr Bossano said he was against giving concessions to placate Spain and said that on the airport there was 95% done which nobody knew anything about and the same for the remaining 5%, a reference to the Chief Minister having said that 95% of an agreement on the airport had been achieved.

Decolonisation is imperative, says Garcia

Leader of the Liberal Party Dr Joseph Garcia has said that the new Constitution must decolonise Gibraltar.

He has added that in his view there are fundamental points in the discussions on which the process could stand or fall.

Dr Garcia has refused to go into details on the basis that this is confidential as agreed by all the participants. However, he echoed the views of the statement that was issued after the second round of talks last week which said that “there are a small number of important issues where agreement has not yet been reached”.

The Liberal Leader said that a minor tinkering which keeps Gibraltar as a colony would be a huge political miscalculation. “It would provide an excuse for the United Kingdom to deny us further change and decolonisation for another 40 years”, he said.

Dr Garcia recalled that the 1969 constitution was itself meant to decolonise Gibraltar and it failed to do so. He warned against making the same mistake again.

Dr Garcia recalled how in 1976 the Hattersley Memorandum made it clear that the British Government would not be drawn into a constitutional conference and it pointed Gibraltar to await developments in Spain. Therefore the last time there was a conference was in 1968 following on from Britain’s promise to grant further constitutional changes if the people of Gibraltar voted to retain their links with the United Kingdom in the 1967 Referendum.

Gipsy Moth IV set for Gibraltar trip

The legendary yacht Gipsy Moth IV yesterday returned to the port where she completed the first one-stop round-the-world voyage - to make final preparations for a repeat trip.

The 53ft ketch was welcomed by thousands when Sir Francis Chichester sailed her into Plymouth after 274 days at seas in 1966-67. Her next leg will be to Gibraltar.

She was back in the Devon port yesterday ahead of Sunday’s departure on a 29,630 mile repeat voyage - on which teams of three youngsters from UK schools and organisations will help crew her on each of the 28 legs.

Following a £300,000 refit, the yacht, under the helm of the United Kingdom Sailing Academy, is to re-enact Sir Francis’ voyage.

One of the youngsters who will help sail the Plymouth-Gibraltar leg ,Peter Heggie, 17, from Stoke Dameral Community College in Plymouth, said:

“It is a fantastic opportunity and really exciting. I am nervous but that’s part of it."

Leadership centre guide Elaine Caldwell, 23, working at Staffin, on the Isle of Skye, said:

“I will undoubtedly get a sense of isolation sailing aboard Gipsy Moth IV, which will give me more time for myself."

The third young crew member is 17 year old A level student Matthews Pakes, from Wootton, Isle of Wight.

The vessel, which has been in dry dock in Greenwich since her record breaking voyage, was given a new lease of sea going life last November. She was sold for £1 and a gin and tonic to the United Kingdom Sailing Academy, which organised a refit with the help of the UK marine industry and sponsors.

Places on the Gipsy Moth IV cirumnavigation project voyage were allocated through specially selected schools and organisations from across the country.

Members of the public will be looking over the vessel today - and on Sunday an armada of craft is expected to follow her as she casts off on her new voyage.

And the same Gypsy Moth biplane that flew out to meet Sir Francis Chichester when he returned from his record breaking voyage will fly across Plymouth Sound and escort Gipsy Moth IV out of Plymouth’s water. The plane will be flown by Nigel Reid, son of John Reid who made the memorable flight back in 1967.

Following Chichester’s return from his epic journey, he was knighted and the Gipsy Moth IV was put on show at the London Boat Show in January 1968 before being placed in dry berth next to the Cutty Sark until last November.

Trafalgar launches “10 minute” Online car cover on the Rock

Ibex, the Gibraltar-based insurance company with Lloyds’ of London links, which since its inception four years ago has gained nearly 60,000 expatriate clients on the Costas and in the Algarve officially launched its on-line subsidiary Trafalgar Insurance Brokers at a function in Casemates on Thursday evening.

Trafalgar which is to provide a “walk-in” and on-line insurance service for residents on the Rock has already issued more than 150 policies according to its manager Bill Pisani, who has spent the past 20 years in the Rock’s rapidly growing insurance sector.

Ibex managing director John Harrison believes that its on-line system - introduced last October and using software specially developed for the firm by a Dublin company over a 16-month spell - which Trafalgar will share will allow clients to obtain quotes for, take out and pay for motor or home cover in less than 10 minutes.

“Though Trafalgar Insurance Brokers will provide facilities for walk-in customers, it will be particularly useful for professionals who are pushed for time – bankers, lawyers, trust company people,” Harrison explains. “They will be able to call up our web site and after filling in a few details will be able to choose the policy that fits their needs and the premiums which suit their pockets. “They will be able to print out their policy and arrange immediate payment and cover in less than 10 minutes,” claims Harrison.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Caruana and Bossano head for Labour Conference

Chief Minister Peter Caruana leaves for London on Monday to attend the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, where he will host a reception for MPs and delegates.

He will be accompanied by his Private Secretary Martin Figueras and returns to Gibraltar on Tuesday.

Leader of the Opposition, Joe Bossano, also leaves on Sunday to attend the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Mr Bossano will be accompanied by the GSLP’s International Secretary, Gilbert Licudi. They will return to Gibraltar on Thursday.

Meanwhile Joe Holliday, deputy Chief Minister will be receiving the Thai Ambassador to London on Monday. He is on a familiarisation visit to the local Consulate headed by Mark Porral.

Morrisons UK warns of 2,500 job losses

• Unions warn strike action likely

Morrisons UK warns of 2,500 job losses
Supermarket giant Morrisons yesterday warned that 2,500 jobs could be lost after a review found that three of the company’s depots may no longer be required.

The firm said its sites in Aylesford, Kent, Bristol and Warrington were at risk of closure. Workers would be encouraged to apply for alternative jobs in the group with the aim of minimising redundancies, said Morrisons.

The announcement was made as talks resumed with the GMB and Transport and General Workers Union in a bid to resolve a dispute over job security.

The unions suspended a strike due to start yesterday so that talks could continue.

Morrisons Warehouse and Distribution Director, Chris Noone, said the firm had assessed a number of different options during the review.

"These recommendations follow a detailed review of each depot’s operational circumstances and fit within the network and an appraisal of their ability to service the Group’s future distribution needs.

We are currently discussing the proposals and consulting with all those concerned with a view to agreeing a plan for the best way forward."

Morrisons, which recently took over Safeway stores, said it now had overcapacity in its depots.

The GMB revealed details of the depot closure plans earlier this month. GMB national officer Jude Brimble said:

“This review has taken place without any involvement of the workforce or the unions. Morrisons have conducted themselves in an underhand, dishonest and disgraceful way.

They are the unacceptable face of big business.

We believe that the review has been built on a conspiracy of deceit and deception which has as its object of policy the undermining of decent pay and conditions that apply at the depots to be closed.

GMB will not allow Morrisons to get away with this. The company is obliged by law to have a consultation period with the workforce and the unions for 90 days prior to the announcement of closure.

The strike action that was due to begin yesterday was postponed for seven days to allow talks to take place and these are underway."

The union said its members would be angry at the announcement and warned that a further strike due to start on September 29 was “very likely".

Related Articles:

20 September 2005 - Move to halt strike by Morrison's delivery workers

16 September 2005 - UK Morrison workers plan strike action

02 September 2005 - All change for Gibraltar’s supermarkets

11 August 2005 - Gibraltar Safeway still up for sale, says Morrison

Launch of Gibraltar's Down's Syndrome support group

by Alice Mascarenhas

A Down’s Syndrome Support Group was officially launched in Gibraltar yesterday in the gardens of The Convent by Lady Richards.

Surrounded by Down’s Syndrome children and adults, family members and friends, Lady Richards paid tribute to the setting up of this group by Annette Zammit and Jane Payas.

Honoured to be associated with this new group Lady Richards told the Chronicle that when one has a child who is a special challenge as well as a special pleasure it helps to share experiences and that this was one of the reasons why the group had been set up.

“It is also about sharing the experience of the wider community. But perhaps the most important is that all these children and adults here today should lead happy and fulfilled lives because we have been able to help a little to make it so,” she said.

Coinciding with the launch the Support Group has organised the first Down’s Syndrome Conference in Gibraltar entitled Towards A Brighter Future which will be held on the 11th and 12th October at The Garrison Library.

The conference is sponsored by the Gibraltar Government and private sector companies aimed at parents, teachers and other people caring for individuals with Down’s Syndrome.

The Down’s Syndrome Support Group Gibraltar (DSSGG) wants to make a positive, meaningful difference for individuals with Down’s Syndrome.

Annette Zammit, Chairman of the group explained that although the group and support had existed for many years behind the scenes amongst the parents and professionals it was felt it needed to be officially established.

“We needed a tool to work with for many reasons but mainly because of new research and new practices in the UK. Most children are now in mainstream education and it is very new to the Department of Education and we still have more to achieve.”

Mrs Zammit struggled herself with the system over the years to have her son accepted in mainstream education.

“But over the years I have felt a lot more had to be done so that all these children could go through mainstream. When my son went to special school and from an outreach programme into mainstream this was against our wishes as parents. At the time the system was not ready to take that on but ten years on we have to see the big change which has occurred with all the children being included within the mainstream setting,” she said.

Gibraltar has a community of some 15 Down’s Syndrome. Six of the children are in mainstream education and some of the adults are in care.

The group wants to create and develop conditions which will enable people with Down’s Syndrome to nurture their individual capabilities and attain their full potential. Affiliated to The Down’s Syndrome Association of the United Kingdom (DSA) and the Disability Society of Gibraltar the group help and support families, carers and professionals concerned with the care and development of children and adults with Down’s syndrome.

Places are still available for anyone who may want to attend the conference. The main speakers are from the Down Syndrome Educational Trust based at the Sarah Duffen Centre in Portsmouth. They are Professor Sue Buckley, Director of Research and Training Services, and Professor Ben Sacks, Consultant Development Psychiatrist and Medical Advisor. The talks will centre on the present and emerging challenges that face parents, teachers and other professionals educating and caring for individuals in Down syndrome.

For more information contact Annette Zammit on or Jane Payas on

The long term aim of this new support group is to bring all these families together on a regular basis to help one another and share up-to-date advice and information.

Related Articles and Links:

The Down’s Syndrome Association of the United Kingdom (DSA)

Down Syndrome Educational Trust

Sarah Duffen Centre

Down Syndrome Information Network UK

23 September 2005 - Gibraltar to have own Down’s Syndrome Support Group