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Crew abandon 'explosion risk' tanker

 Crew members from a petrol tanker abandoned ship after fears of exploding in the Mediterranean off the south-eastern coast of Spain, after port authorities in Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco refused it entry.

 The tanker 'Castor', with 29,000 tonnes of unleaded petrol, was 18 miles off Almeria in southeastern Spain on Thursday. With no refuse available either in Morocco, Gibraltar or Spain "the master of the vessel supported by the managers had no choice but to abandon the vessel", said a spokesman for the owners, Athenian Sea Carriers.

  The Spanish authorities asked that the vessel be kept at least 30 miles off the Spanish coast, amid fears of an explosion. It was reported to have a 26-metre crack. No spillage had been reported.

  With concern in Gibraltar over the stricken nuclear submarine HMS Tireless, where it awaits repairs, the Gibraltar authorities refused the tanker entry. "The risk is too high," said an official spokesman.

  The tanker developed "a crack along a weld on the main deck" said the owners, blaming the adverse weather conditions.  It was being pulled away by a huge tug.  While it is said the petrol would evaporate if there was a leak, the heavy fuel oil used to propel the ship could produce a serious oil streak. (06.01.01)

Official: Further preparatory work on Tireless 

Further preparatory work on HMS Tireless is to go ahead, it has been officially stated here today. They are scheduled to be completed by January 11.

 The preparatory work involves grinding and fettling the hole (already cut out in the main coolant pipe) to prepare a profile suitable for welding to the intended new "sweepolet" pipe section that it is hoped, in the future, to insert as the itself, said the Gibraltar government.

 It is not intended to weld the new sweepolet section into position at this time, hence Spanish reports that works had already started are possibly about the preparatory works themselves and not the actual repair.

  The nuclear panel appointed by the Gibraltar government have advised that "these further preparatory works and working methodology will not in themselves introduce any significant safety related issues." This is the recommendation received by the government, which does not object to the preparatory works proceeding. The Ministry of Defence has been informed.

  The MOD has not yet submitted to the panel the safety case and work scheme for the weld repair itself.  A further meeting, in the UK, between the Gibraltar government's experts and the MOD is scheduled for January 10. (05.01.01)

TIRELESS: Chief Minister accuses Spain of making political capital

Peter Caruana, chief minister of Gibraltar, has accused Spanish politicians of making political capital out of the problems facing the stricken British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless, which has been at Gibraltar since last May with a leak in its water coolant system.
"We should be wary of some Spansh politicians who use the Tireless for political purposes beyond safety concerns, " he said. "One said last week that they sought Tireless' removal not on safety grounds but for reasons of sovereignty."
By evoking the political differences with Spain, always an emotional issue here, Mr Caruana appeared to be opening the way for his Government to continue with its policy of not opposing the repairs to Tireless - as the Spanish dimension tends to cloud all other considerations in Gibraltar.
This concept was strengthened, said sources, when he added that "our natural instinct is to help the UK if this can be done without undue risk to public health and safety." He was thus viewing the nuclear risk factor from a political perspective within the context of Anglo-Spanish relations and their impact on Gibraltar.
The sensitive risk issue was also being qualified further - "undue risk" were his words.
While he reiterated that "we will not hesitate to oppose and prevent the works being carried out here if our experts advise us that the risks exceed those posed by a routine recreational nuclear submarine visit", it is thought his experts are unlikely to draw such a conclusion given that what the experts are considering is simply whether or not the actual repair work poses a safety risk. For as long as the MOD can show that they are following established practices, it will be difficult for the experts to oppose the work procedure.
He did not mention that while routine submarine visits are curtailed to not more than a few days by Ministry of Defence regulations, precisely to reduce the risk factor when nuclear submarines dock in ports, the Tireless has now been in Gibraltar for close on eight months which heightens the potential risk factor, even if the reactor is reportedly shut down.

 

Chief Ministers New Year Message

 

CHIEF MINISTER`S NEW YEAR MESSAGE
In his New Year message tonight, the chief minister Peter Caruana spoke at length on the main issues affecting Gibraltar.
He addressed the following points:
*Changes to tax system to protect finance centre
*Uncompetitive shopping due to strong Pound
*No change in Tireless policy
*Awaiting action in EU-related matters
*Constitutional future: We cannot remain static


This is the FULL TEXT of his message:


Good evening, I hope that you have had an enjoyable and restful Christmas and New Year festive period. 

This time of the year serves to highlight just how important the family and traditional family values are to us here in Gibraltar. The family is the bedrock upon which our unique community is built. Therefore, you can be sure that, whatever may happen elsewhere in Europe or the world my Government will never voluntarily introduce any laws or measures that undermine our family values. Indeed, during this year we hope to introduce measures that will support the family and traditional family life and values.

2000 has generally been a good year for Gibraltar, although, as always, there have been many difficult issues to deal with.

The objectives of the Government are really very simple. To develop a viable and sustainable economy and to maintain a climate which ensures its continuing prosperity into the future; to continue to improve the quality of all aspects of life in Gibraltar; and thirdly to do all that we can to uphold our political and EU rights and promote our aspirations as a people. Through the careful balancing and advancement of all these objectives we ensure a prosperous future for this very special place, which is our homeland.

To achieve these overall objectives we need to make steady progress on a broad front of issues: social issues, physical development issues, economic issues and international political issues. In all of them our by-words have been transformation, regeneration and modernisation.

Social Issues

My colleagues in Government, and I, firmly believe that social justice and the way that we provide for our elderly and for the least privileged groups in our society are fundamental to our confidence, happiness and success as a modern community. Much progress has been made.

Anyone who has visited Mount Alvernia in recent months cannot but have been struck by the complete transformation of the place brought about by the new Elderly Care Agency. The whole approach to the provision of care has changed beyond recognition.

Similarly, the establishment of a very impressive and already successful, Drug Rehabilitation Centre at Bruce`s Farm has been an extremely valuable new addition to Gibraltar`s care services. The Social Services Department itself has also undergone training and additional resourcing and is in the throes of further change to ensure that it is able to meet the needs of today`s society. Dr Giraldi Home is being converted into small units that will result in homelier, more appropriate living conditions. 2001 will also see major construction work at Mount Alvernia, the establishment of a new residential home for extremely handicapped people, the establishment of small homes within the community for children in care and the establishment in Gibraltar of child fostering. None of these things are politically spectacular, and they all cost extra money, but they are essential to the modernisation of our care services and to providing properly for those most in need. During 2001 we will continue to invest in upgrading and modernising our social care services.

Last year also saw the coming on stream of Bishop Canilla House, specially designed for elderly tenants. This has been hugely popular with tenants and we will build more. This type of housing not only provides ideal living conditions for elderly tenants, but also frees up larger housing in other Government estates for allocation to younger families.

The introduction of the Elderly Persons` minimum income guarantee will also provide a decent income safety net to many hundreds of elderly persons who have been living on very very low incomes. The abolition of tax on income below £7,600 for pensioners has provided another targeted boost to those most in need of it. We will shortly raise the number of pensioners who will benefit from tapering relief above the level of £7,600.

This year will see work start on Gibraltar`s new and modern hospital at Europort. Before the new hospital opens all existing practices and procedures at St Bernard`s will be externally reviewed to ensure that the new Hospital starts life with the most up to date and reliable practices and procedures.

A priority for 2001 is the reform of the Government Housing Rules. I am particularly concerned that the present system is not sufficiently sensitive to the needs of young married couples on low incomes and other deserving cases. The current system seems to be heavily stacked against young people at a time in their life when they are most in need of help with housing.

Through these and other measures Government will continue to invest in the modernisation of our social and care services and thus ensure that the benefits of Gibraltar`s economic success is fairly shared and reaches right down to those most in need of it.

Physical Refurbishment and Modernisation

An important aspect of our efforts to transform Gibraltar is improved cleanliness and the physical refurbishment and modernisation of Gibraltar itself, of our physical fabric. Areas of Gibraltar that have benefited so far have been the Town Centre, Queensway and Waterport. Gibraltar already looks a lot better. This programme will continue this year. Work starts soon in Catalan Bay and the southern end of Main Street. The programme is not limited to streets and squares and entry terminals. A major programme of refurbishment and beautification of Government housing estates is also under way. Glacis Estate and Calpe are well in hand. 2001 will see the commencement of Laguna Estate, Varyl Begg Estate and other blocks around Gibraltar.

During 2000 Government was able to finally extract a huge settlement of £24.5 million from the Spanish builders of Harbour Views. For nearly five years we have grappled with litigation, with trying to find methods and designs for remedial works that would be effective and could be carried out without evacuating the estate and finally with addressing the emergency and safety needs of residents. The very long suffering residents of Harbour Views have shown remarkable resilience and patience for which they are now receiving their just reward. We are also helping the residents of Brympton Estate, another 50/50 scheme project that was never properly finished.

2001 will also witness the start of two quite ambitious projects. One is the very comprehensive Upper Town Urban Renewal Scheme, which will seek to transform the quality of life in a regenerated Upper Town area. The other is the launch of various new housing schemes by Government to ensure the availability of low cost, reliable quality housing at affordable prices.

Another important measure of the quality of life in Gibraltar is the extent to which we can provide for our leisure and recreation needs. I know that many of you want more done to offer improved leisure and recreation to our young people here in Gibraltar. The greatly enhanced Victoria Stadium Sports Complex is already underway. This will offer sports and leisure facilities in many activities. Construction work has also started on the new Skate Park. Planning work also continues on the proposed King`s Bastion Youth Leisure Centre. The new Casemates Square project will also soon provide increased leisure facilities in the form of cafes, restaurants and quality bars.

During this year Government also hopes to be able to announce a major project to upgrade our beaches, which are such an important part of our summer way of life in Gibraltar.

Another priority this year is the establishment of a modern, reliable and high quality public bus service in Gibraltar.

The Economy

Of course, all of this investment in our social and care services, in our health service, in our housing and in our physical fabric and in our leisure facilities is only possible because our economy continues, thankfully, to perform well, on practically all fronts: the ship repair yard, port services and tourism all continue to grow. The gaming industry continues its successful consolidation as an important part of our economy. And the Finance Centre continues to grow and prosper, despite the threats and challenges that all Offshore Finance Centres are now facing from international organisations like the OECD, G7, the EU and others. We are particularly pleased to have secured the re-establishment of the Heathrow Service.

No one in Gibraltar, whether they work directly in the Finance Centre or not should underestimate how important the Finance Centre is to the economic, and therefore to the social and political prosperity, and indeed survival, of Gibraltar.

It would therefore be a huge mistake for anyone to misinterpret the Government`s nurturing and protection of the Finance Centre as pandering to the interests of business or the privileged.

The Finance Centre provides vast numbers of jobs in Gibraltar. Probably as many as 5000 jobs depend, directly or indirectly, on the Finance Centre. These people are, in turn, customers of other businesses. Finance Centre companies are themselves customers of many other businesses in Gibraltar. The tax and PAYE collected by Government from the Finance Centre pays for many public sector jobs, for many public services and for much public investment. The Finance Centre is an important mainstay of the private sector and therefore of the economy.

I say all these things because in order to protect the Finance Centre from the consequences of the international initiatives that I have referred to, Government will be obliged to take certain measures, especially changes to our tax system, to enable the Finance Centre to continue to flourish and thus sustain the direct and indirect employment that it currently provides. You may however rest assured that these measures will not involve the raising of direct or indirect taxes payable by residents.

Even though tourists continue to visit Gibraltar in record numbers, some sectors of our retail (and therefore also the wholesale) trade continue to suffer the consequences of the strong pound. This makes many of our shops uncompetitive for local and visiting shoppers alike. There are however signs, at long last, that the Euro may be strengthening. If this continues it will offer some relief to those local businesses affected.

One of the purposes of the economy is to provide money to Government to fund public services and public investment. The other important purpose is to provide jobs. Thanks to the continuing success of the economy, unemployment remains below the historically low level of 300. It finished the year at 287. The monthly average over the whole year was 313. These encouraging figures will not however lull us into a false sense of security. We will continue to focus on job creation and on modern training and apprenticeship facilities and opportunities. We are also building two new industrial parks to provide opportunities for business expansion and new start-ups.

Political Issues

2000 has also been a positive year on the political front even though we have had the usual dose of difficult issues to deal with, ranging from Harbour Views, to the Incinerator (which together represented a financial threat totalling 65 million pounds), the EU-related agreements in April and of course HMS Tireless.

Other noteworthy events were the opening of the expanded and upgraded Gibraltar Government Offices in London and the staging of a highly successful Gibraltar Day in London.

You are all, of course, well aware of all the issues relating to HMS Tireless. The Government`s position on the matter has been from the outset, and continues to be, based on the absolute priority of public health and safety. We are, as you also know, being advised by a panel of nuclear experts. We will not hesitate to oppose and prevent the works being carried out here if our experts advise us that the risks exceed those posed by a routine recreational nuclear submarine visit. In any case, the MOD and the British Government remain responsible for the safety of all their activities in Gibraltar. Our natural instinct is to help the UK if this can be done without undue risk to public health and safety. We should be wary of some Spanish politicians who use the Tireless for political purposes beyond safety concerns. One said last week that they sought Tireless` removal not on safety grounds but for reasons of sovereignty.

I devote a very large amount of my time to EU related issues. The Government does all that it can to ensure that our EU rights are respected and upheld. But of course, this is fundamentally the obligation and responsibility of the British Government at Member State level and as the country responsible for our external affairs. I was therefore very glad to see that in his Christmas Message, His Excellency the Governor, who is HMG`s most senior representative in Gibraltar, asserted that Gibraltar`s EU rights must be upheld.

In this respect we urgently await effective action to uphold and enforce our rights on the Eurovote, on border delays and on telephones. On all of these issues the Gibraltar Government has done all that it can to press and lobby for action. For example, on border delays I believe that the results of the Frontier Complaints Office and of the Gibraltar Government`s direct lobbying in Brussels have been instrumental in bringing the Commission to start formal proceedings. It seems that action by the Commission on telephones is also imminent. It is regrettable that, if it materialises, it will have been left so late in the day when Gibraltar is already suffering the very damaging day to day economic consequences of this problem. Ultimately only HMG can deliver effective pressure on Spain and the EU to take effective remedial action on such issues.

The Gibraltar Government, for its part, stands ready to be reasonable and practical so long as Gibraltar is not expected to compromise our fundamental and established rights and interests, simply to gain access to what is ours by right.

And so we are very happy with the result of the lengthy negotiations that led to the April Agreements relating to EU competent authorities, police cooperation, ID Cards and Schengen participation. Although the agreements were formally signed between UK and Spain at Member State level, the Gibraltar Government was intimately involved with the UK, on a line by line, word by word basis, in the negotiation of those agreements. They are all of them good agreements for Gibraltar. We have secured acceptance and recognition of our competent authorities for EU purposes, formal relations for the purposes of cooperation between the RGP and Spanish law enforcement agencies, and recognition (as passports) of our ID Cards. And all of this without conceding any political or constitutional ground, nor any political or administrative autonomy. One immediate and important result of the agreements has been our ability to exercise our financial services passporting rights into the EU markets. Our contribution to the agreements has been a simple recognition of that which is in any case a self evident and obvious reality, that the UK is responsible for Gibraltar at Member State level within the EU and that Gibraltar is not a Member State in its own right.

Take for example the ID Card Agreement. ID Cards will continue to be issued in Gibraltar, by the Gibraltar Government under our own Ordinance, just as before. They will remain a local and locally issued document in every respect. The Opposition has tried to make a fuss about the fact that the card will no longer say that it is issued by the Gibraltar Government. The card will, of course, continue to be issued exclusively by the Gibraltar Government. However, the 1993 Ordinance, under which the cards are issued, passed by the then GSLP Government, says that the cards must be issued by a Government official to be designated by the Chief Secretary. The card will now specify the title of the issuing official. It is of course an official of the Gibraltar Government.

These agreements have solved a whole raft of past, present and future EU related problem issues. Once the Eurovote, the telephone and the borders issues are resolved, upon which progress is also being made, the main area of remaining EU related difficulty will be aviation measures. Since this is an area of expected high EU activity in 2001, it is sure to keep us busy in the coming year. I will of course keep you all carefully informed of important issues in this respect as they arise.

2001 should also see the House of Assembly Select Committee on Constitutional Reform make its report to the full House. It is not reasonable for anyone to expect Gibraltar to remain permanently static in terms of our constitutional and political evolution in the face of anachronistic intransigence on the part of those with historical ambitions over our homeland. To remain static is simply to pass the problem onto our children and our grandchildren and to saddle future generations with the problem. We owe it to our future generations to show imagination and confidence in the search for possible, democratic and modern solutions to our problems acceptable to the people of Gibraltar, in the exercise of our inalienable right to determine our own future.

I am sorry that this address has been so long, but I think that the time is right to refocus on our broad vision for Gibraltar as an economically successful, socially modern, just and fair and a peaceful and politically stable community. This is the best legacy that we can bequeath our children.

One of my continuing regrets is that Gibraltar continues to be so highly politicised at a day to day level. It has never been, and will not ever be, this Government`s political style to use Gibraltar`s international problems as a means of keeping this community in a permanent state of political anxiety. Life is too short and needs to be enjoyed. I see one of Government`s jobs in Gibraltar as managing Gibraltar`s problems and interests as best and as safely as possible while at the same time allowing the community as a whole to go about their daily lives as prosperously as possible, with as much peace of mind and sense of security as possible. Politics should not dominate peoples lives. If finding acceptable solutions to some of our international problems contributes a little to normalising our lives, as the April Agreements have done, we will not hesitate to seek such solutions. We do not subscribe to the view, apparently held by some people who appear to prefer to see Gibraltar immersed in interminable crisis. They contribute nothing to the enhancement of your quality of life.

I am therefore confident that 2001 will be another successful year for Gibraltar which will see Gibraltar continue to make good, steady and sustainable progress and improvements in many areas of life.

I wish you all and your families and friends a healthy, happy and prosperous 2001.(04.01.01)

 

Almost 30 Spanish organisations prepare massive anti-Tireless demonstration

 

Almost 30 Spanish organisations are involved in preparing a massive anti-Tireless demonstration forJanuary 20. They include political parties (except the ruling PP), unions and other social entities. They call themselves the Andalusian anti-Tireless Forum, officially constituted yesterday in the Andalusian parliament.
The group wants the submarine removed from Gibraltar and says that the UK is about to start work on the repairs. They have accused the Spanish Government of putting British interests before the safety of the people of Andalusia. 
The Madrid government has not opposed the repair plan but feel the submarine should leave Gibraltar as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, a number of councillors in a municipality in the province of Malaga has started a hunger strike and lock-in as their protest against the permanence of the submarine in Gibraltar. It will last for 3 days. The Left-controlled council wants a nuclear-free Mediterranean.
Tireless has been in Gibraltar since last May with a leak in its coolant system. At first it was thought it was a minor crack on a weld, but closer inspection revealed that the problem was more serious requiring repair methods not previously used in nuclear submarines. (04.01.01)

Fresh taxi dispute looms

 

An official notice today says that Britannia Taxis are applying for ten taxi licences. This comes in the wake of the confrontation recently between the Gibraltar taxi association and Calypso Tours, a bus company.
Britannia were at the centre of a dispute with the taxi association in the seventies, but have been dormant up till now. They say they want to operate a city service.
The taxi association will be opposing the application on the grounds that, at 112 licences, there are already enough taxis in Gibraltar. The hearing will be heard later this month. (04.01.01)

 

Gibraltar at London boat show

The Gibraltar tourist board is exhibiting at the London boat show - for the fifth year running. The show, at Earl's Court exhibition centre, runs till 14 January.
When tourism minister Joe Holliday attends the show next Tuesday, he will be launching the Second Gibraltar powerboat festival which will take place from 26 to 30 September.
The Gibraltar international regatta will also be launched at the boat show. Now in its fifth year, the regatta "has become one of the most important events in the yachting calendar of the western Mediterranean," said a government spokesman.
Preparations for two Blue water Rally Events will be finalised at the show. The 1999 rally will complete its circumnavigation at Gibraltar in June, while the 2001 rally will set off from here in October.
"Our presence at the London boat show helps to secure international events for Gibraltar, and to continue to promote Gibraltar as a highprofile yachting destination," said Mr Holliday.
The tourist board will be supported at the exhibition by reprsentatives of the marinas association and other local entities involved in the yachting industry. (03.01.01)

Just over 300 Gibraltarians out of work

The number of Gibraltarians out of work is just over 300, according to official figures released today.
During the first quarter of last year it stood at an average of 304; during the second quarter it was 290; the third quarter registered 331 and the fourth quarter had 329 unemployed. (03.01.01)

Round-world boat in Gib with sail problem


The biggest boat in the round-the-world boat race, the Playstation, is in Gibraltar undergoing repairs to its main sail. A new mast arrived in Gibraltar today and the boat expects to leave the Rock tomorrow.
The race started at the end of the year, with six boats taking part. They set off from Barcelona, Spain.
The Playstation is now set back by 48 hours, but the 13-strong crew are confident they can catch up. (03.01.01)
 

New Year's round-the-world yacht race slowed down


Yachtsman Tony Bullimore has been forced to miss the start of the round-the-world challenge yacht race because he is 241 kilometres short of qualification requirements.

Bullimore's boat, Team Legato, has had to set off on a separate voyage in the Mediterranean to complete the 4,022-km trial as the other five yachts set sail for the Atlantic Ocean, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A spokesman for the team says the crew expects the final qualifying stage to take between 10 and 15 hours, but insists the boat would still be able to take part in the event.

He says the team has also had to cope with two last-minute crew changes, including the departure of Bullimore's second-in-command, Frenchman Zoe Perrin.

The Race has been billed as the ultimate ocean-going challenge, with the huge catamarans expected to produce a race dominated by brute sailing force and smashing the round-the-globe record - if they complete the 43,443-km voyage.

But others have branded the challenge as foolhardy, saying the massive sails produce huge forces which have not been fully tested in the most savage seas on the planet.

Pete Goss' STG2-million ($A5.46-million) entry, Team Philips, has already been dramatically lost in the north Atlantic, leaving 62-year-old Bullimore as the only surviving British entry.

The 31-metre Team Legato, which has a crew of 10, is joined in The Race by five other qualifying entrants.

The American billionaire and adventurer, Steve Fossett, skippers his boat, Playstation; New Zealander Grant Dalton leads the Club Med team; France's Loick Peyron skippers Innovation Explorer; American Cam Lewis is aboard Team Adventure; and Polish sailor Roman Paszka skippers Warta Polpharma.

All six boats have been moored in Port Vell marine, Barcelona, for the past week making last-minute preparations.

The first boat is expected at the finish in Marseille, France, in about 65 days.

Bristol-based Bullimore is most famous for being dramatically rescued from a capsized boat after he was trapped for four days in the Southern Ocean three years ago.

He has spent the past two years preparing Team Legato for The Race in Bristol Docks.

Team Legato spokesman Barry Pickthall says he is confident Bullimore will be able to make up lost time when he starts the race tomorrow morning, thanks to the weather.

"The boats starting are facing 65-kph head winds as they travel to Gibraltar, which is going to slow them down," he said.

"Tony will start tomorrow morning and we think it could calm down and he could catch them up." (31.12.00)

Anti-Tireless demonstration at British consulate,Malaga

A demonstration against the repairs to the stricken British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless taking place in Gibraltar has taken place outside the British consulate office in the Spanish city of Malaga, up the coast from Gibraltar.

  The demonstration was led by the spokesman of  the left-wing Izquierda Unida party in the Andalusian parliament, Antonio Romero. Other members of the Malaga anti-Tireless platform also took part.

  Sr Romero told reporters of his fears that the repairs to the Tireless could serve as a precedent for other repairs to nuclear submarines.  He also referred to the naval base at Rota near Cadiz, which is a joint American/Spanish base.

  He said Gibraltar did not enjoy the conditions for such repairs and spoke of the great danger that the presence of the submarine represented to the health and security of the Andalusians.

  The local Malaga spokesman for the an-Tireless platform, Maria Angeles Mota, said the submarine was a risk for the people of Andalucia and North Africa, claiming that Malaga was directly affected. The thrust of the opposition to tireless is that such repairs should not take place near heavily populated areas. (30.12.00)

Solitary award for Gibraltar in New Year Honours

Gibraltar has received a solitary award in he Queen's New Year's Honours List. It is an MBE to Mesod ('Tito') Benady for services to local history. Mr Benady lives in Britain and takes an interest in Gibraltar heritage and historical matters, having written and published on such matters.

  The Governor's certificate and badge of honour - known as the Gibraltar Award - goes to James Cassar (services to Customs), Stanley Walter Gomez (services to youth) and Elizabeth Sheriff (services to the disabled).

  The Colonial Fire service Medal goes to Deputy chief fire officer John Ochello. (30.12.00)

  FULL LIST of Honours: http://sky.com/news/background/story5.htm.

ILF New Year Message

A NEW YEAR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF GIBRALTAR

by I.L.F. Leader Lyana Armstrong-Emery

“Shortly after the General Election last year we launched our new political party, the Independent Liberal Forum. We did so because we believe that Gibraltar needs real Liberalism and that real Liberalism needs a clear and independent voice in local politics. Obviously this means that voice must be free from the influence of those in Gibraltar who have never been Liberals . Otherwise, what’s the point ? After all, the Liberal approach is supposed to provide a distinct alternative.

Our belief in that basic principle has sustained us in all our efforts since we started last March. As we expected, the task of setting-up a new politicalorganisation ‘from scratch’ has been at times very challenging. However, careful planning and development has paid off and step by step we’ve made steady progress. Our Party is now well established as a vehicle for our different and better way forward for Gibraltar’s community.

People have by now seen us in operation and realise that the I.L.F. is here to stay.But what have we actually done so far for Gibraltar and what do we intendfor the future ? Here’s a brief summary ;

In recent months we’ve been active in many areas but particularly in the crucial one of human rights. For instance, our public participation in the campaign for greater rights for non-E.U.people continues to gather pace with the recent formation of the newjoint ‘March for Justice’ campaign. Another example is our work to secure a much better deal for gay people in Gibraltar, who are still the targets for discrimination and prejudice in many areas of life.

 Yet another example is our commitment to a new combined system of tax and benefits for Gibraltarians which would ensure a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens, related to their needs. This would end poverty once and for all and would streamline administration by ensuring that everyone has just one financial account with the State.

The I.L.F. has also been actively involved in the anti-Tireless movement and continues to support those pressure groups working to remove the submarine and see that such a situation never arises in Gibraltar again.

A few months ago we called on all like-minded people in Gibraltar to join us in our campaign for the eventual ‘Devolved Integration’ of the Rock with the new decentralised U.K. that is now developing. This policy is one we will continue to pursue vigorously as we believe it provides the best long-term prospect for our community.It would guarantee our secure non-colonial future as a locally-autonomous but full member-state of the British family, a smaller but equally respected partner with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 Our Party is also committed to electoral reform. We believe that the way we choose our elected representatives is vital to our democracy here in Gibraltar. The present voting system canproduce distorted and unrepresentative results and therefore needs to be replaced by one based on the principles of Proportional Representation. The I.L.F. will continue to work for this much-needed change in the months and years to come. These are just some of the objectives that we will continue to promote during 2001 and beyond. On behalf of our Party I wish everyone in Gibraltar a Happy New Year ! “(29.12.00)

 

Gib strait was barrier to human migration


THE narrow Strait of Gibraltar was a more effective barrier to early human migration than the whole of the Sahara, geneticists claim.

David Comas of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and his colleagues analysed 676 individuals from north-western Africa and the Iberian peninsula. They studied gene fragments called Alu sequences which are recent arrivals in the human genome. Two people with the same Alu sequence at the same point in their genome are highly likely to have had common ancestors, reports the New Scientist.

"The genetic background of the North African and the Iberian populations is different. There has been little gene flow between these areas although they are separated by only 15 kilometres," says Comas. The high evaporation rate of the Mediterranean Sea means it sucks water from the Atlantic Ocean through the Gibraltar strait. This produces strong currents that may have made navigation, and hence mixing of people, difficult.

"The evidence seems to be unequivocal. The strait isn't particularly dangerous but it seems to have made a difference," says geneticist Mark Jobling of the University of Leicester.

Another reason could be cultural differences. Migration in Neolithic times brought Indo-European languages to the northern Mediterranean shore and Afro-Asiatic languages to the southern shore. "Other studies [have shown] that cultural factors like language or religion have acted as barriers to gene flow between populations," says Comas.

But two populations at the southern end of North Africa showed some genetic similarity to people in sub-Saharan Africa. Trade routes across the Sahara, which was wetter 5000 years ago, may have helped people to mix across the vast desert.(29.12.00)

Most Spaniards do not care about Tireless

Most Spaniards do not care about the Tireless affair, the faulty British nuclear submarine at Gibraltar. This is the outcome of two surveys in Spain.

  One of the surveys, by the centre for sociological studies, puts at only 0.6% the number of Spaniards who say that tireless is a main issue for them.

  The other survey, in he Spanish daily 'ABC', says that 52% are not against the Tireless remaining in Gibraltar.

  To the question 'Do you think that the submarine Tireless should remain in Gibraltar?', 27,550 (52.22%) said YES, while 25,211 (47.78%) said NO.

  Spokesman in the Campo area adjacent to Gibraltar for the ruling centre party in Spain claims that the issue of Tireless is being inflated by the socialist-led Andalusian regional government to attack the central government in Madrid.  There are other issues in the area of equal importance which are not being tackled, such as pollution from chemical plants.  It is pointed out that the level of leukemia in the Campo area is 50% higher than that of the rest of Andalusia - and this had been the case before Tireless arrived.

  The level of cancer-related diseases in Gibraltar itself, which borders the Spanish region, is also regarded as high. 

 REPAIRS START IN JANUARY

 Actual repairs to the leaking water coolant system will start in the first week of January, said the Spanish government delegate in the province of Cadiz, citing January 4 as the actual start date.

  A meeting of the joint technical group is due to take place in London on January 10.

  Meanwhile, the daily El Pais says that work on a similar fault in another Tireless class submarine, the Torbay, will be completed by mid-January and that, if all goes well, the same team of British experts will undertake the Tireless repair in Gibraltar.  Members of the Spanish council for nuclear safety have been invited to the Devonport base in England where the Torbay is under repair.

  Meanwhile, the biggest ever demonstration against Tireless being repaired in Gibraltar is being panned for January 20 by nti-Tireless groups in Andalusia who claim that the Spanish government has been weak in not opposing the removal of Tireless from Gibraltar. The preliminary plans were discussed yesterday in Algeciras.

  In Gibraltar, the government awaits the latest report from its team of experts. It has also commissioned a report from another nuclear expert about the possibility of the submarine being transported back to Britain, also expected in early January. (28.12.00)

  

Pensioners' homes in rain problem: "Like prison"

The recent heavy rains have caused serious problems in several parts of Gibraltar, with the fire brigade receiving 50 requests for assistance about half concerning rain penetration.

 A serious case is that affecting Bishop Canilla House, particularly as it is a recently built building housing pensioners.

 The purpose-built building suffered severe rain penetration, leading to the electricity supply being cut off. The entrance was heavily flooded and tenants in upstairs flats had walls in their rooms covered with serious dampness.

 With the two lifts out of action for some time, an affected person said: It has been like living in a prison.

  The elderly folk were trapped in their homes, while efforts were made by the authorities to clear the problem.

  There were words of concern that such newly-built homes should suffer the consequences of the inclement weather, it being pointed out that the availability of the building was initially delayed after serious plumbing problems arose some months ago.(27.12.00)

Love on wheels ends with Christmas marriage in Gibraltar 



 Jonathan Birdsall and Nicole Brooke-Cowden decided to tie the knot after an epic tandem bike ride across Europe. And they did so in Gibraltar.

The couple rode more than 3,400 miles through nine countries before bringing their six-month long trip to a grand finale at a wedding registry office in Gibraltar.

Jonathan and his New Zealand-born bride met three years ago at a pub in Stanningley, Leeds, and had originally planned to get hitched next year.

But with air fares running into thousands of pounds for Nicole’s parents to fly from Auckland to England, they decided to marry on neutral territory and chose Gibraltar.

“It the perfect end to a perfect trip,” said Jonathan, 33, to the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Our family and friends were a little shocked to hear that we had got married in Gibraltar. But they are over the moon for us and have wished us every happiness.”(26.12.00)

Gibraltar going back to normal after Christmas - but not yet!

Gibraltar is showing the first signs of going back to normal after the Christmas holidays - but we are not there yet!  Today remains an official holiday as it is Boxing Day - and many firms have chosen to remain closed for the rest of the week, to take in the New Year holidays as well, so that it will not be back to normal until January 2!

  All government offices, including the post office, closed at noon last Friday and there is no collection of mail until tomorrow Wednesday.  The primary health centre is today open for an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon, but the public are being asked to restrict their calls - including house calls - to real emergencies.

 It has been one of the wettest Christmases for a very long time - persistent, heavy rain coupled with very strong winds have made the festive season  a real misery in this respect. Today started partly cloudy, with the sun bravely peering through the clouds, but more rain is forecast, leading to a period of scattered showers. (See our WEATHER SECTION FOR A FULL 9-DAY FORECAST).

  With the first prize in the lottery draw having been shared, this has made more people happier this Christmas,  than had the £500,000 first prize been won by just one person.  (26.12.00)

Baby of the year

The winner of our Baby of the Year Contest is Lee Damian Duo of Withams Road, who will receive a gold-plated trophy and a £100 voucher to buy clothes at Children's Wonderland in Irish Town.
Second was Sarie-Anne Ressa who receives a silver-plated trophy; and third was Stephen Charles Viñales who gets a bronze trophy.
It is always difficult to determine who are the winners, with so many beautiful babies. 
Not everyone can win, but we are grateful to all for entering our contest.
And congratulations to the winners!

 

 

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