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The facts about Maltese hunting

I refer to the bigoted opinions of David Carrington in his letter (Gunning For Malta, February 13). I rebut the falsehoods expressed, his twisting of the facts, and in particular his despicable attempt to forecast doom for Malta's tourism. Assuming that the correspondent is a foreigner who has been granted a residence permit to live in Gozo, the least his adopted country expects from him is to refrain from making wild statements about its government and a sizeable section of its people (the Maltese and Gozitan hunters and trappers).

The facts are as follows: Before the 2004 referendum and the crucial vote for or against Malta's accession to the EU, the Maltese Prime Minister, now President of the Republic, plus other high-ranking government members publicly declared, and even wrote to every individual hunter and trapper, that spring hunting and trapping of turtle-doves and quails would continue even after Malta's accession. This acknowledgment of a legitimate and age-old practice, as well as the confirmation of its continuance, was known to the European Union, and the EU acquiesced to its validity and fairness. If anybody is being unreasonable now, it is certainly not the Maltese government nor the hunters and trappers, but the EU! If the EU lost its vocal chords in 2004, it has only itself to blame.

The EU "Birds" Directive itself made it possible for the Maltese government to exercise its right to apply a derogation to allow spring hunting and trapping on the two game species mentioned earlier. The government is committed to apply this derogation. And no amount of ifs and buts, fact-twisting and threats will alter one iota of that statement. It is not a matter of defying the EU because the EU knew all along that the Maltese government has to honour its commitments with the electorate. If the EU had objections, it should have made them before the 2004 vote, not now.

If tourists from the UK, Germany, Belgium, etc. are of Mr Carrington's ilk, then they would be not be very welcome anyway in Malta. "Reasoning" his way, the ones from Britain might even decide to leave the UK for good, since their own British hunters have field days for 365 days of the year, as they can always shoot woodpigeon, rabbits, crows, jays, magpies etc. without a close season. Maltese hunters have as much right to be treated as first-class EU citizens as any others, and they will fight for their right to continue spring-hunting and trapping of game birds.

"The European Press will have a field day" if it were to send someone to check whether it is true that Maltese hunters use birdlime as depicted on the latest poster issued by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Then the European press might discover a few other things, such as who is getting rich from the "bird protection" racket.

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