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Marlene Pullicino says she offered to co-sponsor divorce bill

Marlene Pullicino

Marlene Pullicino

Labour MP Marlene Pullicino said today that she had offered to join Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando in presenting a divorce bill in Parliament, but he opted to go ahead on his own.

Dr Pullicino, who made the remark during a seminar on divorce this morning, said she made her offer during a private conversation with her estranged husband, and without prior consultation with Labour leader Joseph Muscat.

Her intention, she said, was to ensure that the issue was kept above politics and was not discussed along party lines.

The seminar, organised by The Green European Foundation, heard differing views on divorce from local and foreign speakers.

Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo spoke against introducing divorce, saying it would not improve the local situation.

Furthermore, he said, since none of the parties in parliament had mentioned divorce before the election, one could argue that they did not have a mandate to introduce divorce now, although all MPs had a right to propose legislation.

Dr Pullicino said she was in favour of a law which made sense and safeguarded families. As a Catholic, she was awaiting an annulment decision and would, therefore, not seek divorce, she said, but she still felt she should vote in favour of divorce and not impose on anyone. Divorce, she argued, was not the cause of separation, but its result. MPs had a duty to give the people a measured choice in an environment which protected the family.

Michael Briguglio, chairman of Alternattiva Dmokratika, said his party had been in favour of introducing divorce since 1989. The state, he said, had a duty to regularise people's lives, and it was clear that the best thing for children's upbringing was to have an environment which was free of quarrelling and tension. He also accused the major political parties of abdicating their responsibilities by failing to take a stand on this issue and by opting for a referendum.

Irish campaigner Kristina McElroy spoke of the situation in Ireland and how what was taking place in Malta now was what her country had gone through before deciding for divorce.

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