Is-sejħa għar-riżenja tal-Ministru Carmelo Abela

Carmelo-Abela-new-Home-Affairs-Minister

Permezz ta’ Beppe Fenech Adami, l-Opposizzjoni qalet li l-Ministru Carmelo Abela għandu jirreżenja, u dan għax il-mewt b’suwiċidju li seħħet illum fl-isptar Monte Carmeli hi xhieda tal-inkompetenza tiegħu. Iktar u iktar, qal Beppe Fenech Adami, għax din hi t-tielet mewt ta’ persuna miżmuma taħt kustodja f’dawn l-aħħar xhur.

Il-mewt taħt dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi hi ta’ tħassib kbir. Peró naħseb li Beppe f’dan il-kaz għaġġel ftit biex wasal għall-konklużjoni li hu neċessarju li jirreżenja l-Ministru.

Infetħu żewġ inkjesti dwar il-kaz u naħseb li kien ikun iktar għaqli li nistennew il-konklużjoni tagħhom qabel ma nikkonkludu eżattament x’ġara kif ukoll dwar jekk kienx hemm min (b’li għamel jew b’li m’għamilx) ikkontribwixxa għal din il-mewt.

F’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi hu primatur li ssir sejħa għal riżenja.

Hemm ukoll il-periklu li s-sinifikat politiku tar-rizenja jkun żvalutat jekk jibqgħu jsiru dawn it-tip ta’ sejħiet ta’ spiss.  Fil-kultura politika Maltija r-riżenja politika qatt ma rabbiet egħruq fondi. Din m’hiex xi attitudi li faqqset illum iżda ilha magħna s-snin. Hu għalhekk iktar għaqli li ssir insistenza biex l-inkjesti jkun konklużi fl-iqsar żmien li hu umanament possibli, u dan biex meta jkunu magħrufa l-konklużjonijiet  ikun stabilit min għandu jerfa’ r-responsabbiltà.

 

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Next Thursday’s earthquake

earthquake

 

This will be a simulation exercise coordinated by Malta’s Civil Protection Department at 4pm next Thursday in Gozo and three hundred people will be involved.

It will be carried out with EU assistance and in conjunction with the Civil Protection Authorities in Sicily who are partners with the Maltese Civil Protection Department (CPD) in establishing a network within the region that is able to manage seismological disasters.

This exercise signals the coming of age of Malta’s CPD. It has to date delivered sterling service in the areas of fire-fighting, managing pollution and providing assistance required as a result of flooding after heavy storms. Training its staff, and subjecting them to a gruelling simulation exercise, is a gigantic step forward for the CPD. It is the first step of a long journey that is dependent on the dedication of the CPD staff  – which is unlimited – as well as the resources allocated by the state. Such resources, although limited over the years, seem to be slowly trickling down, for a change.

Developing the CPD’s ability to handle disasters will be a major challenge. For a start it will identify its capability to develop effective coordination with the Police Force, with the AFM (Armed Forces) and the health authorities as well as with local councils.

At the end of the day the CPD’s proficiency in disaster management will be measured in terms of its response time as well as the number of lives it saves in such situations. This will generally depend on the severity of the disaster with which it is faced.

This will not only translate into a general level of preparedness. It will also require focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities and in this respect the role of local councils is indispensable. Specific protocols need to be developed and tested in conjunction with local councils regarding the assistance required by children and those who are bedridded or disabled. Catering for all disabilities is an indispensible prerequisite and it requires trained personnel to which the CPD currently has no access. It is an easily identifiable deficiency which needs to be addressed forthwith.

One small example would suffice: how would the CPD personnel, the police, the AFM – or the health authorities for that matter – communicate with persons with  impaired hearing in the absence of staff able to communicate in sign language? Addressing this deficiency is required not just to ensure that Malta is adequately prepared for disaster management. It is also an everyday deficiency that every authority in Malta that offers a direct service to the population at large needs to address. With around five hundred known Maltese with impaired hearing and a number of others who may have remained below the radar, this is an issue which is manageable primarily at a local level. Yet to date it has not been adequately prioritised.

In this context, one would also need to query the level of preparedness of institutions such as Mount Carmel Hospital and id-Dar tal-Providenza. I am informed that even when it comes to fire drills in residential homes for the elderly, the results were not impressive, to put it mildly.

Prompt and effective coordination between the different authorities is crucial in ensuring disaster management. There is a need to test how the different types of equipment used by the CPD, the Police and the AFM interact. Are they compatible? The planned simulation exercise is an opportunity to identify whether, in an actual practice run, matters will work out as planned. Lessons learned in this area will have to be translated into better procurement procedures in the future to ensure smooth interaction between the CPD, the police and the Army.

This will translate into compatible communication equipment as well as adequately maintained vehicles, sea craft and aeroplanes/helicopters which can be used in difficult circumstances. Knowing that maintenance of equipment has never been our forte, this could be quite a challenge!

The simulation exercise on Gozo on 3 September will necessarily lead to a number of lessons learnt which will have to be acted upon in order that Malta’s capability in disaster management is enhanced. This is definitely a bold step in the right direction.

I look forward to the next steps which require the involvement of local authorities.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 30 August 2015

Meta ħadd ma jkun qed jagħti każ

DNO 2015  EIA 2015

 

Meta kważi ħadd ma jkun qed jagħti każ, nhar il-Ġimgħa 14 t’Awwissu 2015, waranofsinnhar, il-Gvern ippubblika żewġ emendi għar-regolamenti li jikkonċernaw il-bini.

Jidher li l-iskop ta’ dawn l-emendi hi li żvilupp li jsir fil-konfini tal-isptarijiet ta’ Għawdex, Mater Dei, Monte Carmeli, St Luke’s u San Vinċenż, ma jkunux jirrikjedu permess sakemm dan l-iżvilupp ikollu x’jaqsam ma kura medika.

Ir-regolamenti li ġew emendati huma tnejn: dawk imsejħa DNO, jiġifieri L-Ordni dwar in-Notifikazzjoni dwar Żvilupp, u r-regolamenti tal-EIA.

L-ewwel emendi, dawk għad-DNO jistabilixxu li żvilupp li għandu x’jaqsam ma sptarijiet hu permess mingħajr ħtieġa la ta’ applikazzjoni u l-anqas ta’ notifika.

It-tieni sett ta’ emendi għar-regolamenti tal-EIA jeżenta żvilupp fl-isptarijiet li semmejt iktar il-fuq minn EIA.

 

Dawn l-emendi saru mingħajr diskussjoni u mingħajr l-ebda konsultazzjoni nhar l-14 t’Awwissu 2015 meta bosta jkunu bil-vakanzi.

Ifissru li dak li jagħmel il-Gvern fl-isptarijiet, issa, l-MEPA m’għandha l-ebda kontroll fuqu. Il-Gvern qed jagħti lilu innifsu l-awtorita li jagħmel li jrid u b’hekk qed idawwar l-arloġġ lura għal qabel l-1992 meta għall-ewwel darba l-Gvern beda hu ukoll japplika għall-permessi tal-bini.

Mela fejn jidħlu l-isptarijiet il-Gvern qed ipoġġi lilu innifsu il-fuq mil-liġi. Għalfejn? It-tweġiba għalija hi ovvja: għandu żewġ proġetti għall-isptar t’Għawdex u St Luke’s li dwarhom wasal f’xi forma ta’ ftehim ma’ żviluppaturi barranin u dak li ftiehem irid iwettqu mingħajr ma jindaħallu ħadd.

 

 

Voting at the Hospitals and Retirement Homes: (1) Introduction

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On Monday morning together with Professor Arnold Cassola on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika I had a meeting with the Chief Electoral Commissioner who was accompanied by the Commission’s Secretary. The point at issue were recent amendments to the General Elections Act (through Act XIV of 2012) which set out the framework for the running of general elections in retirement homes and Hospitals.

Retirement homes to which the amendments apply must have at least fifty resident voters and must be run by the state. This means that only one retirement home, St Vincent de Paul  Residence, is targeted. Ther retirement homes which though owned by the state are run by the private sector (Zejtun and Mellieħa homes) are excluded.

Likewise when it comes to the hospitals it will be the state hospitals which will be subject to the recent amendments. These are four in number, namely Mater Dei Hospital, Karen Grech Hospital, Mount Carmel Hospital and the Gozo General Hospital.

Twenty four hours after the publication of the writ establishing the date of the general elections the Electoral Commission shall form a sub-committee which shall be chaired by a Commissioner together with a representative of each of the political parties. Alternattiva Demokratika shall participate in this sub-committee and I shall be its representative.

In terms of these latest amendments to the General Elections Act the Electoral Commission shall delegate to the above-mentioned sub-committee the running of the general election  in retirement homes and hospitals.

to be continued : tomorrow (2) The draconian powers of the sub-committee