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Action on Poverty urges community support for Govt in Brexit talks ‘replete with risk and promise’

Pic: Johnny Bugeja

Action on Poverty [AOP] said negotiations for a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar were “replete with both risk and promise” and that now was a time for people to support the government despite multiple domestic issues facing this community.

AOP, which campaigns to highlight hardship in Gibraltar, said it was important to focus not just on present issues but on long-term prospects too.

“Not only is this a time of unity for today, but indeed a time of unity for our very future that requires we give the best of all of us as we participate in its construction,” the group said in a statement.

“And this will necessitate a foundation of two elements: on the one hand, the unity and engagement of Government with the people and their very real worries and concerns, and, on the other, that of the people with their government in facing a potential for Gibraltar that could lay down the foundations for overcoming entrenched impediments and distrust in order to build a more secure future for a Gibraltar reciprocally engaged with our important neighbours as a small but modern self-determining people in charge of our own choices.”

“The negotiations over the EU ‘Schengen’ Treaty represent a milestone for this government and this country, one replete with both risk and promise.”

“It is time to face the possibility of progress rather than to remain impeded by the past.”

AOP recognised “the important work” that has been done by both the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister in navigating these “choppy and difficult waters”.

“We therefore extend a hand of support to the Picardo government as it faces these challenges, fully understanding that very real waves of concern exist, and that there is a burden of reciprocity which hangs over government at this time, one which the executive still must step up to the plate on,” the group said.

“Because this is a time for government and people to stand close together in the practical politics of shaping a solid future for Gibraltar.”

In expressing support for the government in its Brexit talks, AOP was nonetheless clear that it believed there were serious issues to be resolved in Gibraltar.

The group says that despite Gibraltar’s affluence, there are people in this community who live in poverty and hardship.

It adds too that Gibraltar has “an under-performing” welfare system that leave some sectors of society without the protections they should enjoy.

“We are keenly aware of the many related issues that need to be addressed, but which are still not finding resolution to date,” AOP said.

“Housing and welfare poverty as well as underlying long-term flaws in a retirement age income system that has evolved with increasingly evident structural errors, these are just a few of the real grievances finding expression on the streets today.”

“And, because of the multi-faceted elements that cut across a number of social sectors on these concerns, we have reiterated throughout the years that solutions are unlikely to be reached in other than a wide holistic setting engaging broad stakeholder swathes.”

“And, as Action on Poverty, we continue to urge government to seriously think long-term and find deep solutions before the economic wave begins to really hurt the social fibre of this society.”

“The early response from civil society voices to the perception of no progress on these questions is wholly understandable, and wisdom requires they be listened to now, not later.”

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