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Cortes shrugs off GSD criticism of heritage and says: ‘Me da igual’

Heritage Minister Dr John Cortes at the restored Lime Kiln.

The Gibraltar Government on Tuesday said the GSD has been “unable to deny” the tremendous work that has been done in recent years to protect, positively manage and promote Gibraltar’s Heritage.

And in a nod to Gibraltar’s linguistic heritage, Dr John Cortes, the Minister for Heritage, shrugged off Opposition criticism and said: “Me da igual.”

The GSD earlier this week accused the Government of “indulging in a wild rant and angry outburst” in response to being accused of “abandoning” Gibraltar’s heritage sites.

But in its response the Government said the GSD has “retreated to only two points of criticism, and added a third, which is a criticism of the Government’s Heritage Vision paper”.

“Taking the last point first, their comments show just how little they respect all those, many of them volunteers, who work in Heritage, and who have been working on the draft Heritage Vision,” a spokesman for the Ministry for Heritage said.

“This has taken months of work by the Heritage Trust, the Museum, the Ministry, and others in the Heritage and Antiquities Advisory Council (created by this Government), and is a robust document setting out a Vision for Heritage as no Government has done before.”

“Indeed, the landmark Heritage and Antiquities Act passed in 2018, which had not seen the light of day for over a decade, marked a huge change in how Heritage is regarded, and protected, in Gibraltar.”

“Work on achieving, and maintaining World Heritage status for Gorham’s connect be over-emphasised, and all the other projects that the Government listed in its response, not least the creation of a new archaeological area just a few weeks ago, proves beyond doubt the Government’s commitment and ability to protect our Heritage.”

The Ministry spokesman said the GSD “retreated into two sites to defend their allegations, without recognising all the work in all the other areas, and fail to remind the public that they did not support a key initiative in promoting our Heritage, and attracting visitors and investors, the creation of our very own National Park”.

It said this was yet more evidence of their lack of vision.

“The full development of Moorish Castle will require a multi-million-pound investment, which the GSD would no doubt label as “a vanity project”, as they do, and accuse the Government of overspending,” the Ministry spokesman said.

“Instead, the Government is working on a step by step approach which will begin with the conversion of part of the area into much needed artists’ studios, a call for expressions of interests from artists having been put out some weeks ago.”

“Parson’s Lodge is actively used as a research centre and educational facility, which was the purpose for which the GSD itself passed it on to the Museum in 2007 after it had proved unviable as a visitor centre.”

“It is very much in use, and can be visited on request with a guide, as can for example Nun’s Well, one of the sites restored by the GSLP/Liberal Government and opened to the public for the first time in its hundreds of years of history.”

“Nevertheless, the Government is in active consideration of other options in the context of the whole of the area.”

For his part, Dr Cortes, said: “Try as they may the GSD simply cannot obviate all the hard work, and the successes, that we have seen over the past few years, thanks to the Government working in close partnership, closer than ever, with all the heritage stakeholders.”

“And what has not been done is certainly being planned.”

“They are totally out of touch, and so utterly disrespectful to the Heritage lobby who are well aware of my commitment to them and to our fascinating and rich history.”

“Oh, and they have conveniently forgotten that the Gibraltar Heritage Trust honoured me with a personal Heritage Award in 2019, my second one, as I got one for my work in the Alameda Gardens some years before.”

“I am glad to see that those who really know about our heritage appreciate my work.”

“That the GSD doesn’t, frankly, I will say, in honour of my true Gibraltarian linguistic heritage, which I am also working hard to protect, ‘me da igual’.”

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