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ERG and Unite pay tribute to ‘ordinary working people’ in local society

The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society was among those bestowed with an Independent Civil Society award at a ceremony at the Gibraltar Garrison Library yesterday. For the second year now, Unite the Union joined the Equality Rights Group in celebrating the event which also honoured individuals including Bart Van Thienen, Nadine and Alicia Muscat, Nouayba Lamrani, Julio Pons, Francis Ferro and Charles Trico.
“Prizing the work of those who have dedicated themselves to progress for ordinary working people is in the very spirit of this day,” the ERG said.
Both the Gibraltar Women’s Association and rehabilitation group Stay Clean participated in the event delivering presentations of their work in the community to the Garrison Library audience.
In a speech which covered topics such as Brexit, the media and drugs reform, ERG Chairman, Felix Alvarez said everyone has different views and different angles from which everyone comes to their responsibilities.
“But it is our hope that we can grow a sense of common exercise,” Mr Alvarez said.
The Independent Civil Society awards, he added, was first imagined four years ago as a result of what the ERG believes.
“In ERG, we believe that Civil Society is the material means by which to promote and strengthen any democracy, and without which there can be none.”
“We believe it’s not just the politicians and the political parties that matter. They have a role, of course they do. We’ve created it for them. But we employ them – not the other way round.”
Mr Alvarez added that the ERG has come a long way since its launch in 2000.
“And from day one, our position and ethos have always been clear: we stand for solidarity, and we stand for a manner of campaigning for human and civil rights in our community that is predicted on an ethical foundation.”
“That means that ERG will always praise where praise is due. And it will criticise openly where it is also due,” Mr Alvarez added.
Mr Alvarez highlighted a number of topics on which he passed criticism including the media as he explained that the ERG has been undertaking a media watch exercise.
“Can we rely on a free and independent media in Gibraltar to stand firm in the protection of our developing democracy?” he asked during his address.

The results of ERG's ‘signature’ annual Sweet and Sour Poll, where the public now votes what it feels about Gibraltar’s politicians, were announced at the conclusion of the Independent Civil Society Awards.
Joe Bossano topped the ‘sweet strawberries’ poll but balanced this out with third place in the ‘sour lemon’ awards.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo took second place in the sweet strawberries poll and Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon took the third spot.
The Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, was awarded second place in the ‘sour lemon’ poll and Equality Minister Samantha Sacramento topped the poll.
A separate poll, organised by the group, revealed that 56% of those polled were not in favour of Gibraltar being formally integrated with Britain. Correspondingly, 44% voted in favour of the notion.

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