Mintoff’s cortege route pays tribute to his past
Malta’s longest ever funeral procession will be a four-hour tour ending at the Presidental Palace today
What is likely to be Malta’s longest ever funeral procession will snake through Malta’s inner harbour region before coming to a halt at the Presidential Palace in Valletta early this evening.
Former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff’s cortege is set to last well over four hours, taking in many landmarks of his working life.
And opposition leader Joseph Muscat yesterday urged participants to keep the solemnity of the occasion in mind.
“This is not a Labour Party activity or a mass meeting. My plea is for all those who take part in this national activity to ensure it remains a dignified one,” the PL leader said.
Dr Muscat was speaking at the PL headquarters in Ħamrun, where a book of condolences to the Mintoff family was opened for people to sign.
PL dignitaries past and present lined up in the Mile End foyer, as a few dozen members of the public stood outside, eagerly awaiting their turn to sign the book.
Mr Mintoff’s body will today be taken from Mater Dei Hospital to his home in Tarxien at 3.15 p.m. It will stay there for 30 minutes to allow family members to grieve, before beginning its winding trip to Valletta.
Before coming to rest in Malta’s capital, the cortege will visit Tarxien, Senglea, Vittoriosa, Kalkara, Cospicua, Marsa and Ħamrun.
At each of those stops, the procession will be greeted by the area’s respective mayor and local councillors, PL local committee members and numerous band clubs.
Singer Mary Spiteri will pay tribute to the former Prime Minister by singing at Vittoriosa’s Freedom Day monument at 5.05 p.m.
Exactly an hour later, when the cortege is in front of St George’s Band Club in Cospicua, 21 white doves will be set free. Mr Mintoff was the band club’s president for more than half a century.
The doves “represent the Mediterranean peace Mr Mintoff always strove so hard to achieve”, explained PL organising secretary Ray Azzopardi.
A brief church service led by Cospicua archpriest Joe Mifsud will wrap up activities in Mr Mintoff’s Cospicua hometown, with the cortege then making its way to Marsa and Ħamrun.
The hearse will pause briefly at Ħamrun high street, outside what used to be the Radio City opera house, where Mr Mintoff assumed the PL’s leadership in the late 1940s.
It will then move on to his political heartland, the PL’s Mile End headquarters. PL officials, MPs and dignitaries will all pay silent tribute to Mr Mintoff there, with Dr Muscat laying a wreath in his honour. After a brief aria by soprano Claire Caruana, the hearse will gradually make its way to Valletta, down Republic Street, before coming to rest at the Presidential Palace.
There, Mr Mintoff’s body will lie in state in the run-up to Saturday’s state funeral. The public will be able to pay homage between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow, barring a three-hour interlude between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Details of Mr Mintoff’s Saturday funeral were also made public yesterday. Proceedings will start at 9.30 a.m., with Mass at St John’s Co-Cathedral scheduled to begin an hour later.
Mr Mintoff’s decorations will be presented to his two daughters in front of the War Memorial at the entrance to Valletta, followed by a private burial at Addolorata Cemetery.