It is quite incredible that the Opposition have chosen to jump on the bandwagon of the workers’ hostel when their record in Government in this regard is nothing to be proud of.
They seem to have forgotten that the move of the hostel from Buena Vista Barracks to its existing location at the Queen’s Hotel was driven precisely by the fact the then GSD Government sold Buena Vista to a developer for the construction of luxury housing. They sold the land without the provision of a ready-made alternative location to which to move the residents.
The state of the Buena Vista hostel is a matter of public record.
The GSD in Government also presided over the deterioration of the other workers’ hostel at Devil’s Tower Road. The poor conditions there were also a matter of public record at the time. This Government purchased the Sunrise Motel and proceeded to expand and repair it in order to move the residents there. This newly refurbished facility was used to decant tenants.
Plans for a new hostel have already been announced. This will deal with the issues made public this week. It is obvious that the new building will have the capacity to allow existing residents to be relocated to new facilities.
The Opposition would do well to remember that people in glass houses should not throw stones. Their record on hostels left much to be desired.
The Government will not tolerate discrimination and inequality in any shape or form. Our record speaks for itself. It will be recalled, for example, that we established the first Ministry for Equality in the history of Gibraltar. We have dealt with nationality and immigration issues which were affecting many members of the Moroccan community in Gibraltar. In so doing, the persons affected were granted equal rights to Gibraltarians and EU nationals, as is only right and proper.
The Government is truly proud of the positive and welcome contribution made by Gibraltarians of Moroccan origin to the progress and development of our country. They are as essential an ingredient to the formation of the Gibraltarian identity as the British, Genoese, Maltese, Jewish, Indian and others who arrived here over the centuries.
There is always more to be done and the Government remains fully committed to work closely with the Moroccan Community Association and to tackle whatever issues they may wish to raise.