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The unforgivable story - Helena Dalli

The lies. The money. The chaos that could have been. The pain. The scars. The fear in the minds of two nine-year-olds. The lust for power at all costs. The falsification. The forgery. The media houses turning allegation into fact. The early election. The Nationalist Party campaign all based on a lie.

The madness of it all.

There was a trial by the media. There was a trial by Simon Busuttil. Until we got the magistrate’s inquiry result, which put paid to all the pseudo trials.

A crisis was created on various levels.

On a national level, had the majority of the Maltese people believed Busuttil, the PN could have won the 2017 general election. Had that happened, where would we be now, after the inquiry confirmed the lie and that Joseph and Michelle Muscat have been cleared of all allegations?

A crisis was created for the Muscat family. Is it not a crisis when two nine-year-olds have nightmares of having their parents taken to prison? That is what they told them at school, and posters around Malta showed Dr and Mrs Muscat behind bars.

A crisis in people’s trust in the media. Already we fare with the countries where trust in the media is very low. Now it will be worse. The independent media have, for the last year and a half, fed people with what Busuttil and some others were telling them without checking the facts or waiting for the result of the inquiry.

We never looked at political power as an end in itself

Now those who believed them are feeling cheated. This will undoubtedly add to people’s distrust in the media.

This is what we had to deal with in Malta.

We had to deal with worse in Brussels.

I am well-placed to speak on this, as I was present at various meetings where I had to defend Malta’s name from unfounded allegations against the government. I was there to assure that the rule of law in Malta is alive and kicking. I did it even though all the time I felt it was surreal to be speaking about an issue I was sure did not exist.

While I was defending my country’s name, MEP Roberta Metsola invented a lie about me too, for good measure, I guess. She said on national television that an MEP had kicked me out of his office when I went to speak to him. I challenged this and the MEP in question said it was not true. Of course, there was no apology from Dr Metsola.

I am mentioning this episode to show how easy it is for some to lie blatantly.

I have spent a substantial chunk of my parliamentary life in Opposition.

We never did anything of this sort: we never invented a story upon which we drove the country to an early election based on a lie.

We never looked at political power as an end in itself.

I do remember, though, hearing the story of Terinu. The Nationalists had circulated an affidavit signed by Ettore Bono (known as Terinu), a waiter who declared he had seen Lord Strickland in Masonic regalia.

This, on the eve of an election, of course. Plus ça change.

This Egrant story is unforgivable. When you think of how the Prime Minister’s family was pilloried because there were people who swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.

When you think of the €1 million plus in taxpayers’ money spent on the inquiry.

When you think that we had to go to the country a year earlier…

And this because there are those who believe they have a divine right to govern this country and are prepared to go to any lengths to destabilise a democratically elected government. So much for democracy and the rule of law.

Helena Dalli is Minister for European Affairs and Equality.

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