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SNAG hits back at Govt’s ‘personal attack’ on committee member

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

The Special Needs Action Group (SNAG) on Monday said it was “disheartened” to find itself being used as a tool for party politics and as a means to attack the GSD by the Government.

“The Government has once again shown disrespect towards a hardworking committee by singling out Atrish Sanchez who is a dedicated committee member,” SNAG said in a statement.

“The Government accuses Mrs Sanchez of exploiting vulnerable members of the community for political gain.”

“These comments are reprehensible and abhorrent.”

This follows a clash last week between the disability charity and the Minister for Employment, Sir Joe Bossano, over his comments on supported employment.

Sir Joe said he stood by his statements that disabled workers in supported employment are likely to require more sick days.

SNAG called for an apology over the comments, but in its response the Government accused SNAG of “making a very thinly veiled attempt to exploit vulnerable members in the community… for political gain”.

In its response to these comments, SNAG said: “The Government should by now be well aware of the work carried out by SNAG and leave petty party politics to one side.”

“It is time for the Government to acknowledge publicly all the initiatives, donations and support SNAG offers to the community and show some respect towards its members.”

“SNAG’s committee is comprised of persons with one thing in common - a passion to create an inclusive society where everyone is truly equal.”

“SNAG does not discriminate members on their political affiliations and everyone is free to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms as they see fit.”

The group said that in this particular instance, it asked the Government to clarify its position on comments made by Sir Joe “but instead the Government chose to stop the debate by personally attacking Mrs Sanchez for her role as an executive member of another political party”.

“It has chosen to close the debate and no one is allowed to ask any questions,” SNAG said.

“It is interesting to note that SNAG was not the only NGO to take offence in this matter.”

“Other NGOs and countless of individuals, of all walks of life, took offence at Sir Joe’s comments but we have been the only committee that has been publicly humiliated.”

“SNAG is concerned by the lack of interest displayed by both opposition parties when an NGO is publicly humiliated by the current administration in this fashion.”

“Surely both parties must hold an opinion on how ethical this attack is?”

“We therefore urge all political parties in Gibraltar to respect the work done by members of NGOs and to subscribe to the view that individuals are free to exercise their constitutional rights without fear or favour.”

SNAG said it “finds it worrying” the lack of engagement from the other political parties, on the real issue.

It noted the press release by Together Gibraltar but is “baffled by the silence of the GSD on this matter”.

“SNAG believes that Sir Joe’s comments are worthy of a detailed response by both opposition parties expressing their own concerns and explaining their own policies on this matter,” SNAG said.

“It is vital for our community to know what everyone is bringing to the table at this moment in time.”

“The Government has made it abundantly clear that they will not engage with SNAG on this issue but both GSD and Together Gibraltar should challenge the comments made by the Minister and engage with the current administration to at least have a healthy debate on the matter.”

“It is the least this community deserves.”

“SNAG will not be intimidated into silence and we will continue to work hard for the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities community (SEND) and will continue to be the advocate for the many families in Gibraltar.”

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