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22nd March 2021, 20:30

Parliament: COVID curfew ends this Friday; motion passed setting abortion referendum date

Published by GBC News

Parliament debated motions today after a statement by the Chief Minister, in which he announced an end to the COVID curfew as from this Friday.

The motions, presented by the Chief Minister, included the appointments of the next Public Service Ombudsman and of Gibraltar's next Mayor and Deputy Mayor, as well as the date for an abortion referendum.

All motions were passed unanimously.

Ron Coram will be Gibraltar's next Public Service Ombudsman, with the full approval of Parliament.

The role, for three years, will now include that of Financial Services Ombudsman.

Mr Coram has a background in Housing, Education and Employment with Opposition Leader Keith Azopardi, saying this will serve him well in his new role.

Opposition MP Marlene Hassan Nahon questioned why there had been no-one covering the post since June 2020, especially at a time when Civil liberties had been the most eroded due to Covid.

The appointments of Christian Santos as Mayor and Carmen Gomez as Deputy Mayor were also supported unanimously, with the House thanking the current Mayor John Gonçalves for his work, as it had Dilip Dayaram Tirathdas, the former Ombudsman.

Opposition member, Roy Clinton questioned the combination of Public Services Ombudsman with Financial Services, saying the latter is a role that requires specific expertise.

In his reply, Fabian Picardo said a Financial Services Ombudsman should be a lay person as it's lay people he will represent.

The date of the 24th of June for the abortion referendum was decided on unanimously but not without debate.

Marlene Hassan Nahon said another three months would further divide a community, already jaded by the past twelve months.

Damian Bossino disagreed saying another three months would allow for further lobbying, in his view towards a No vote.

The Chief Minister confirmed there would be no increase in the campaign financing. Fabian Picardo said the campaign was nearing a close when the referendum was cancelled because of Covid. He said the Yes vote would be able to draw 19 thousand 580 pounds and the No vote 14 thousand and 90 pounds. This is what the campaign will be allowed to spend.

He also confirmed there will be increased postal voting, even for those living in Gibraltar and no roving votes.

Parliament enjoyed a 20 minute recess, as the Chief Minister left to wish Former Government Minister, Maurice Featherstone's widow, Irene, a very happy 100th birthday.