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Agreement over Theatre Royal re-opening

The government has today signed an agreement with the owners of the Theatre Royal granting the government a lease over the premises for 40 years on a rental of 60,000 per annum with a rental reduction of 50% over the first 18 months after commencement of the lease.
The management also grants the government the option to purchase the theatre at any time during the term of the lease for the basic purchase price of 1.3million.
"We sincerely appreciate the genuine eforts made by the owners of the Theatre Royal to reach an agreeement with the government. We believe this is a good and fair deal, both for the owners and for the people of Gibraltar who can now aspire to the restoration and re-opening of this historical monument as part of our cultural heritage," said culture minister Dr Bernard Linares.
The government says it is also pleased to announce that Ove Arup and Partners International have been appointed to develop and design proposals for the refurbishment of the theatre, through an open tender.
Construction on the final design is expected to start around May 2001 and the completion date is expected to be in the autumn of 2003. The first phase of the restoration works is estimated to cost 3.5 million, 40% of which will be drawn from available European Funds (Objective 2)., (10.11.00)


Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday will be observed on 12 November with a combined civilian/military ceremony at the Cross of Sacrifice at noon.
The Governor will lead the service and on his arrival will read the Bidding and this will be followed by the observance of the two minute silence, to be signalled by a salvo of guns.
The sounding of the Last Post, the laying of wreaths and a short non-denominational service will follow. The ceremony concludes with the sounding of reveille and the National Anthem. In line with the practice at the Cenotaph in London, all present are invited to join in singing the anthem. (10.11.00)

Poppy Day match is back!


The Gibraltar veterans football association jointly with the Royal Gibraltar regiment and with the approval of the Gibraltar football asssociation are reviving the Poppy Day football match. This takes place on Saturday at 6.15pm at the Victoria Stadium. The regiment's band will be performing.
This match used to be played a number of years ago between the GFA and the Combined Services, but it was done away with when the number of servicemen started to dwindle.
The new Poppy Day match originated as a millennium objective. It will now be played annually, all proceeeds to the Royal British Legion Fund.
Solomon Levy, estate agents, have provided the new Poppy Day Cup; Lewis Stagnetto Ltd will sponsor the event and W H Hoare (Sports) will provide the match ball for the game. (10.11.00)


Civil servants in pay row

Civil servants who staged strike action against the government recently are now bracing themselves for renewed differences with their employers, who have gone ahead to pay the new rates but without first agreeing the new rates with the unions.
The clerical association and the institute of professional managers are concerned that the new rates are to be implemented without prior agreement with them. They have called on their members not to be blinded by the prospect of receiving their pay arrears just before Christmas, arguing that the employer's move has been prompted in an effort "to sweeten the fact that you will never bridge the gap with the technical grades" - which was part of the recent dispute.
The government has reacted by saying that the new rates reflect what the unions have confirmed as fully meeting the 'parity with Uk' claim. The pay directive, they add, includes assimilation of technical and clerical grades in common pay bands with the same minima and maxima as in the UK whilst retaining the existing Gibraltar progression scales. (09.11.00)

Cruise liner sails away

A cruise liner due in Gibraltar has sailed away to avoid the prospect of encountering problems with taxi drivers who are taking selective industrial action against the government and also against M H Bland, agents of the cruise ship concerned.
With the visit by Pacific Princess cancelled by P&O, the government says it will have "to consider all its options in the light of this growing negative impact on Gibraltar's cruise industry."
The taxi association are in dispute with the government over new transport regulations and with Bland over their application to license another 10 mini-coaches. (09.11.00)

Moroccans want fairer treatment

The Moroccan community association are not thrilled by recent changes introduced by the Gibraltar government in an effort to meet demands from the Moroccan residents to be treated equally to other residents. They see the government's changes as 'cosmetic'.
A spokesman told the Gibraltar Chronicle that the government has described its position as a 'civilised posture' to non-EU nationals who have been living and working in Gibraltar for many years on one to five year work permits, but the association claim that the issues are going nowhere.
"We believe that the just thing to do is to grant full residence rights, the lack of which is the cause of all our problems," they say.
And they add: "Gibraltar is our first home. We spend more time here than in our homeland, we contribute as any other citizen by way of social insurance and taxes. So why the unjustifiable difference in treatment. We wish to live as one and be accorded equal and fair treatment in Gibraltar." (09.11.00)

Govt confusing public opinion over Tireless, says opposition

The labour/liberal opposition says it is convinced that the Gibraltar government is confusing public opinion by pretending to take what appears to be a tough line in public against the repairs to HMS Tireless when in reality all they are doing is preparing the ground for the repairs to go ahead.
In a statement tonight, they add: The opposition view has been given credence by the fact that the Ministry of defence in London is quoted as saying that the Gibraltar government experts will not be granted access to the nuclear reactor compartment on HMS Tireless as this is not necessary.
They accuse the government of leaving the door open. "We predict that the Gibraltar government's experts will say that they do not need access to the reactor compartment which will allow Mr Caruana to say that there is no need to oppose the repairs as such access is not needed."
The opposition say they consider such a development as a blatant attempt to manipulate public opinion, and call on the government to "clearly and unequivocally" declare itself against the nuclear submarine being repaired in Gibraltar. (09.11.00)


No need for experts to inspect reactor, says MOD


The Ministry of defence in Gibraltar has reacted to a statement by the Gibraltar government, to the effect that it would oppose the repairs to HMS Tireless if its experts were not allowed to inspect the reactor, saying that there is no need for the Gibraltar experts to gain access to the reactor in order to determine the safety of the repair procedures. The government experts have been offered to see the reactor on film.
Following press comment that the Government's own inspectors had not been allowed to view the reactor, a Government statement said yesterday that" should the experts consider such access to be necessary in order to give reliable advice to the government, and should any access requested in those circumstances be denied, the government will firmly oppose the carrying out of the repairs in Gibraltar."
The MOD statement would seem to indicate that the inspection is not necessary and , thus, the government threat is superfluous. (08.11.00)

Govt leaving door open to repairs, says opposition


In a statement this afternoon, the labour/liberal opposition say that" the government appears to be wanting to give the impression that they oppose the repairs, when in reality they are leaving the door open to do the opposite."
They add that it is "completely absurd" that the Gibraltar government should be relying on press reports to reach the conclusion that its panel of experts have not had access to the nuclear compartment in their visit to the submarine. 
On page 5 of the experts report to the government it says: "The panel was not permitted access to the submarine reactor compartment and has not yet inspected the berth facilities."
The opposition ask if the government has read the report.
The opposition reiterate their view that Tireless should not be repaired in Gibraltar, and add: The ambivalence and lack of clarity of the Gibraltar government, in sharp contrast, has not helped Gibraltar and may well have contributed to the present situation. The surest way to prevent Spanish visits or interference in what happens in Gibraltar is for the submarine to go away from here and the sooner this happens, the better it will be." (08.11.00)


Chief Minister should have supported popular view, says UN association


The United Nations Association of Gibraltar say that the chief minister should have united with the popular campaign against Tireless being repaired in Gibraltar.
Commenting on recent events, they condemn the way in which the British government have completely by-passed the Gibraltar government and feel strongly that the people of Gibraltar have been completely ignored regarding their call for Tireless to be removed from Gibraltar.
"After further analysis of the situation, we feel that if the chief minister would have come on board from day one and united with what is the popular view that Tireless should not be repaired in Gibraltar, then we would not be in yet another humiliating situation," says the association.
They add: We call upon the chief minister to not await any further degrading situations, and to unite with the people and to tell Britain to take Tireless back to the UK immediately. (08.11.00)


Base will be downgraded after repairs - says UK minister


Still on Tireless, the stricken nuclear submarine, UK junior defence minister John Spellar has told the House of Commons in London that the Gibraltar submarine berth will be downgraded after the repairs are over.
He said: The category Z berth in Gibraltar naval base has not been upgraded to a category X berth. To undertake the specific repair to the reactor coolant system of HMS Tireless, the Z berth in Gibraltar has been enhanced to the standard necessary to obtain approval from the regulatory authority to undertake the repair.
"This included enhancing the management organisation in Gibraltar and providing the additional equipment needed for the repair," he added. "This equipment will be removed when the repair is completed. The temporary enhancement to the Z berth occupied by HMS Tireless does not involve structural work and there are no changes required to the existing emergency planning arrangements."
A Z berth is used only for recreation and operational visits whilst a Z berth is used for repairs to nuclear submarines. (08.11.00)


New chairman of Jewish Community


The Jewish Community in Gibraltar has a new chairman. He is lawyer James Levy, who now takes over the running of the influential Jewish community here.
He will be involved in educational and other matters as well as dealing with outside bodies, such as the Jewish world congress.
He said that relations with the predominantly Catholic community was good and that he wants to renew contacts with local Moroccan leaders with a view to ensuring that events elsewhere do not have a negative bearing here. "We are one big family in Gibraltar," he said.
He takes over from his brother Momy Levy, who now becomes his deputy. (08.11.00)

Operation Triangle: Man arrested


In line with their ongoing campaign against drug suppliers under operation Triangle, the Gibraltar police arrested a man for alleged possession with intent to supply approximately 15 grammes of amphetamine and 7 grammes of cannabis resin.
The drugs were seized in his residence and in his vehicle, claim the police. The search was carried out by drug squad officers with the assistance of the customs dog section. Items associated with the supply of drugs were also seized.
The man was charged and appeared in court this morning, his case being adjourned. (08.11.00)


Government threatens with opposing Tireless repairs


Chief Minister Peter Caruana, humiliated by Britain over the visit of Spanish experts to HMS Tireless, has spoken for the first time about the possibility of his government opposing the repairs. He has also stated that he will not allow the Tireless presence in Gibraltar to be used as a Trojan Horse for Spain's ambitions to take-over the rock.
As the row with Britain continues, the government here says it has noticed press reports suggesting that the Gibraltar government's panel of experts have been denied access to the reactor compartment. "Should the experts consider such access to be necessary in order to give reliable advice to the government, and should any access requested in those circumstances be denied, the government will firmly oppose the carrying out of the repairs in Gibraltar," said a statement today from the chief minister's office.
The government here wants Britain to reply to a letter sent by the Spanish foreign minister Josep Pique to foreign secretary Robin Cook requesting Spanish involvement in the running of the military base at Gibraltar, and to reject such a proposal. This introduces into the Tireless issue a political dimension, it says, in addition to the public health dimension.
It is inexplicable that Britain does not reply to Sr Pique's letter, says the Gibraltar government.
Further "the surreptitious execution" of the visit by the Spanish experts "amounted to a deception of the Government of Gibraltar", the statement adds. (07.11.00)


Spanish experts will not return unless they can have access to reactor


The Spanish nuclear experts , who visited the stricken submarine last week, say they will not return unless they are given access to the nuclear reactor, reports the Spanish daily El Pais today.
In the first place, Britain vetoed who could visit the Tireless last Friday, restricting this to independent persons. Secondly, it has made clear that restricted areas in the submarine, including the reactor, are out of the question.
The Spanish experts, who belong to Spain's nuclear safety council, have also expressed an interest to inspect the completed repairs before the reactor is switched on again.
The Tireless limped into Gibraltar last May after having developed a leak in its coolant system, which the Ministry of Defence at first thought was a 2mm crack on a weld. Later, after closer inspection, it was concluded that the fault was more serious than at first thought. This will require a new repair procedure being put in place, the MOD estimating that the repair works are not anticipated to take place before the end of March next year. (07.11.00)

Health authority hires Spanish radiologist


The row concerning the dismissal of the consultant radiologist Dr Rassa has taken a new twist, with the labour/liberal opposition saying today that the health authority has hired a Spanish radiologist and that his analysis of the results of x-rays need to be translated from Spanish into English.
The opposition says that if a medical practitioner requests a translation, this may need to be carried out by the nursing or administrative staff of the health authority, placing on them an unfair burden.
"In addition, this is potentially a dangerous situation because translations in medical technical terms are not the normal everyday translations from one language to another, and it can lead to mistakes in diagnosis which ultimately adversely affect a patient," the opposition point out.
It is ridiculous, they add, that only last week the government considered in its wisdom that applicants for ward clerks require a GCSE in the English language and now a consultant radiologist does not.
"We strongly believe that if anything goes wrong it is the minister that carries the political responsibility," says the opposition, pointing out that if Dr Rassa had not been dismissed so precipitously, the minister would not have found himself in this situation today. (07.11.00)



Gibraltar's Chief Minister humiliated by Great Britain 

Joe Garcia analyses the dramatic and damaging events for Gibraltar


The chief minister Peter Caruana has been ridiculed and humiliated over the extraordinary events concerning the visit of Spanish experts to HMS Tireless. He has been made to look a fool by the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Convent, to the extent that his credibility as chief minister is now being questioned.
As he himself put it: "By 4pm this afternoon (Friday) the visit had already taken place, without the knowledge of and in the face of opposition by the Gibraltar Government who learned of it when local workers phoned in to report that it was in progress."
Nothing could be more undignified, more detrimental to the standing of the chief minister of Gibraltar.
For six days he battled it out with the British Government, through the Governor, through lengthy correspondence and by even telephoning ministers in UK, including a desperate call to the defence secretary Geoff Hoon at 10.30pm on the night before the visit took place.
This damaging and dramatic episode has revealed:
THAT for 3 weeks Mr Caruana tried in vain to be given a copy of the letter sent to foreign secretary Robin Cook by his Spanish counterpart Sr Pique, making overtures about Spanish involvement in the Gibraltar military base.
THAT Mr Caruana's insistence that the visit of the Spaniards did not take place, unless any ideas of joint control of the base were clearly rejected by Britain, fell on deaf ears.
THAT for 6 days Mr Caruana tried to stop the visit taking place. 
THAT on Thursday morning, as the crisis deepened, Mr Caruana telephoned Foreign Office minister Keith Vaz who, to Mr Caruana's surprise, said he was unaware of the Spanish nuclear safety council having said that they had neither the expertise nor the wish to visit Tireless.
THAT Mr Caruana forthwith sent a 14-page letter, by fax to the minister's private office, which made no impact whatsoever.
THAT as Mr Caruana held "loud and tense" talks with the Governor David Durie trying to stop the visit, "the visit had in fact already been agreed and the events and exchanges of the last 6 days a complete charade", to quote the Gibraltar government press release.
THAT there is now a major rift between Gibraltar and London, with Mr Durie diplomatically putting it as "clearly a difference of perception between the two governments." He has promised to do all he can "to reduce these differences."
What is clear is that Mr Caruana has been taken for a ride. While he was being told one thing, London was moving in a different direction. The Governor finally told Mr Caruana that it had been agreed that the Spanish experts would visit Gibraltar. Mr Caruana quickly released a copy of the letter he had sent to Mr Vaz and said he would oppose the visit taking place. What he did not know then was that the visit was already in motion. It was too late.
A detailed press statement due after lunch setting out the government's opposition to the visit was never released when, thanks to a dockyard worker, the chief minister's office got to know that the visit was, in fact, already in progress. A new press statement was drafted - and this was released late on Friday evening.
While all this was happening in Gibraltar, in Madrid the news of the visit was buzzing all afternoon.
In fact, the MOD in London issued a statement saying that "the visit will shortly be taking place." This was at 15.48pm - just 12 minutes before the visit was set in motion. In Gibraltar, the same press release was not issued by British Forces until 5.30pm - later than late.
Someone or other will now tell Mr Caruana how sorry they are for having ignored him and that it will not happen again. Last August, the MOD in London said they were going ahead with the repairs to Tireless, and when Mr Caruana complained, he was told: Sorry old chap, we know we acted wrongly. 
The chief minister may have finally learnt his lesson.
He was right when he told the Foreign Office that his government viewed it as "inexplicable" that the British government should still not have replied to Sr Pique's letter demanding joint say or control over the naval base.
The Gibraltar Government, he added "cannot remain idle in the face of the risk that the Spanish Government, or the Spanish press, may seek to present the presence of Spanish nuclear experts as some sort of political triumph in the context of their wider position over Gibraltar."
The Spanish press has been referring to the "nervousness" of the chief minister and that he had said that the visit could be seen in Spain as "the first inroad into the sovereignty of Gibraltar for over 300 years."
Mr Caruana cannot, on the one hand, accept that Tireless be repaired in Gibraltar, and then, complain about the negative consequences for Gibraltar derived from it.
He has warned Britain that his government cannot remain idle. Gibraltar awaits to see what he intends to do.


Buses Confrontation 


A confrontation is due on Thursday as Calypso Tours, part of M H Bland, apply for licences for ten of its buses, imported in strange circumstances.
The taxi association has confirmed "that it is preparing substantial objections to the application by Calypso tours for the extension of the number of buses that it is able to operate."
The association has been on selective industrial action against M H Bland since its importation in May 2000 of ten unlicensed Toyota Coaster buses.
Apart from the selective action, which has included targeting cruise liners for which M H Bland are agents, the association says it has made a complaint to the police, having been referred to the Attorney General, for the investigation of the importation of the said buses.
The police have been provided with statements from several members of the committee of the taxi association and are presently investigating the issues arising.
The taxi association says it understands that "the investigation is being conducted with particular regard to the provisions of Part IX of the Criminal Offences Ordinance, namely corruption of public office."

Spanish military may be next to visit Tireless

Gib experts treated like Spaniards and not allowed to inspect reactor

The Gibraltar government nuclear experts have been treated like Spaniards and not allowed to inspect the Tireless reactor, the Ministry of Defence have confirmed.
It follows therefore that the safety reports by the Government's experts are not based on an independent assessment but purely and simply on what the MOD has told them, which is the same as what the MOD has now been telling the Spanish technicians.
This raises further questions about the validity of the experts safety reports and the Gibraltar government's acceptance of everything it is told.
The initial safety report turned out to be flawed because it was based on inaccurate assessment of the problem by the MOD. Equally so, their latest
report is based on what the MOD has told them. There is no guarantee that the MOD will not get it wrong again.
What is lamentable is that, after the last sojourn here by the experts, it was said that they had visited the submarine. That was being economical with the truth. What was NOT said was that they had not inspected the problem-plagued reactor compartment.
Says the MOD: "It has always been understood that neither the Spanish nor Gibraltarian experts would be allowed access to the reactor department."
If the Gibraltar government knew, why did they keep quiet about it and give the public a misleading impression?
Of course, the MOD is perfectly entitled to decide who can and who cannot be allowed
into the secret areas of the submarine. They cannot be criticised in this respect.
The two technicians from the Spanish nuclear safety council visited Tireless on Friday with the prior knowledge that they would not be allowed into the reactor compartment. They had earlier stated that they knew nothing about nuclear submarines and showed no enthusiasm to pay a visit to Tireless. However, they came under pressure from the Spanish government to do so, to provide a perception of all being well to allay mounting Spanish concern about the submarine.

"What is important is that we have successfully gained access to the submarine, and the door now being open, it will be difficult for Britain to close it,"
said council sources, who now expect more visits to follow. They also want to be present during the testing of the repairs prior to the reactor being switched on, when a radiation leak could ensue if everything has not gone well.
Not only that, but given the lack of knowledge of the Spanish civilian technicians of nuclear submarines, the point is already being made that future visits should include Spanish military personnel.
Although the Spanish were given an extensive briefing at the base here, which lasted 4 hours, the actual visit to the submarine is being described as almost "touristic", as all they were allowed to see were non-restricted areas. The visit to Tireless by the Gibraltar Government's experts has equally been "touristic".

Gibraltar Liberal Party elected full members of Liberal International


Garcia Vice President of Liberal International  


The Liberal Party of Gibraltar has been admitted as a full, voting member of Liberal International, at a Congress held in Canada, and Party Leader Dr Joseph Garcia is now a Vice President of the organisation. There were over three hundred delegates from fifty three countries in the Congress.
This is the first time that a Gibraltarian political party has been admitted as a full voting member of an international organisation political body at a senior level, and is good news both for the Liberal Party and for Gibraltar as a whole. The Liberal Party of Gibraltar has been attending Liberal International events since 1996, participating in four different Congresses in the Netherlands (1996), Britain (1997), Belgium (1999) and Canada (2000). Attaining full membership is a long process, which starts as a participating guest, then as an observer member and finally a full member. The party has been allocated five votes.

The admission of Gibraltar as a full member came about unanimously and to a roar of applause from the many delegates in the room. It was first approved earlier this year by the Bureau of Liberal International, then by the Executive Committee in Ottawa and finally by the plenary. Both Dr Garcia and Mr Linares were present in the Executive Committee, being a part of it, and the Liberal Leader gave an address in support of the application.
There are now over thirty Liberal parties involved in government all over the world, some of them alone and others through alliances and coalitions with other parties. The Congress in Ottawa was addressed by the Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of Andorra and the Prime Minister of Belgium, among others, as well as by a European Commissioner and the Director General of the World Trade Organisation. There were government Ministers, Members of Parliament and Members of the European Parliament from many countries present. 
In addition, Dr Garcia and Mr Linares were also given a private tour of the Canadian House of Commons and the Senate in Parliament Hill. It was particularly interesting because the Congress took place in the first week of the Canadian General Elections, and this gave the event a very high media profile when the Prime Minister came to address the delegates. The Liberal Prize for Freedom, which is awarded at every Congress, was presented to the Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir who is well known for defending the rights of women in her country.
Dr Garcia and Mr Linares took the opportunity offered by the Congress to explain the Gibraltar position to as many politicians from around the world as possible. The theme of the Congress was "World Trade in the new Millennium."
For a political party from Gibraltar to obtain international recognition is a both an honour and a historic event. This means that we are now treated on a par with political parties from all around the globe which helps to put Gibraltar on the map and promote our unique identity. This can only be positive for everyone.




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